1WedAugust 1, 2018
In 2017, the band appeared on Kid Rock's 8th Annual "Chillin' the Most Cruise" and was voted the best band on the boat by the "chillers." The group went on to do commercial film for Southern Comfort in Clarksdale, Mississippi and spent their summer touring. In September, Bishop Gunn took the stage at the Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee alongside artists like Justin Timberlake, Eddie Vedder, Mavis Staples and Gary Clark Jr. The band then played Laid Back Festival dates with Jaimoe's Jasssz Band, Jimmie Vaughan, The Gregg Allman Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Bishop Gunn released their debut full-length album Natchez in May 2018. They worked on the release with Grammy Award-winning producers Casey Wasner and Mark Neill at legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and FAME Studios, as well as The Purple House in Leiper's Fork, Tennessee. The album, named after the band's hometown, entered the Billboard charts as the #4 Blues Album and also appeared as #8 on their Heatseekers South Central chart. Rolling Stone Country featured the band among their "Artists You Need to Know," asserting "anyone can cite the Muscle Shoals sound as an influence, but few acts can actually pull off making music worthy of such a claim. Nashville band Bishop Gunn is one of those acts...The resulting music is the perfect blend of Nashville and the Shoals, and is the rare album that builds upon its influences rather than resorting to outright mimicry."
Earlier this year the band was featured at SXSW, played support dates for Blackberry Smoke and was invited for a return appearance on Kid Rock's 9th Annual "Chillin' the Most Cruise." They are looking forward to touring in support of the album this summer, including performances at The Peach Fest, The Big House Museum, support dates for Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Outlaws and many others.
The Przmatics are a band from Chicago made up of songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Mike Przygoda, bassist Ausberto Acevedo, keyboardist Nick Gutierrez, and guitarist Stephanie Stahl. Their debut record, "Always Stuck Here In Between" has been critically acclaimed including being named one of the "Best Of Indie Rock 2017." With jangly guitars, trippy synthesizers, pounding drums, and soaring vocals, the band combines alternative rock, dream pop, R&B, soul, shoegaze, and more into quirky clever Midwestern songs.
3FriAugust 3, 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.
4SatAugust 4, 2018David Bromberg Quintet
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.
6MonAugust 6, 2018
Like so many cool people in the boom generation, Kinky Friedman first saw the world through the Peace Corps in the sixties. Kinky did his PC time in Borneo as an agriculture extension worker, wherein he introduced the Frisbee to the natives and taught farming techniques to people who had been farming successfully for thousands of years. But it was in Borneo that Kinky began to write the tunes that would propel the rest of his life.
Kinky had formed his first band, King Arthur & the Carrots while a student at the University of Texas, prior to his Peace Corps stint, but when he returned to the states, he really got serious with his second band, Kinky Friedman and The Texas Jewboys, the unit for which he is most famous, musically.
For his first album, Kinky released 'Sold American' in 1973 for Vanguard Records. His repertoire mixed social commentary ('We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to You') and maudlin ballads ('Western Union Wire') with raucous humor (such as 'Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in Bed'). His 'Ride 'Em Jewboy' was an extended tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, and one of his most famous tunes from this session, 'They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore,' is still on many hip playlists.
In the mid-'70s, Friedman and the Jewboys toured with Bob Dylan & the Rolling Thunder Revue. By 1976 he had recorded his third album, 'Lasso From El Paso,' featuring appearances by Dylan and Eric Clapton. The Texas Jewboys disbanded less than three years later, and Friedman moved to New York, where he became a Sunday night fixture at the legendary Lone Star Cafe. His performances, often featuring guests like Robin Williams and John Belushi, were equally legendary.
During the seventies, Kinky set several high water marks in his early performance career. In 1975, Friedman and the Jewboys taped an Austin City Limits show which was never aired. According to the show's executive producer, Terry Lickona, this was the only time in the show's long history that an episode went unaired. Lickona told the Austin Chronicle "I've seen it many times -- I think it was a great show, and it might be as offensive today as it was back then."
Kinky was a musical guest on Saturday Night Live in October 1976, the first year of SNL, and he claims to have been the first full-blooded Jew to take the stage at the Grand Ole Opry. Apparently, this is true.
Starting in the early eighties, Friedman shifted his creative focus to writing detective novels, after a bizarre incident at an ATM machine. Kinky spotted a woman being robbed and dashed to her rescue using his bank card to gain entry to the locked ATM lobby. The episode unleashed Kinky Friedman, the private detective, and sparked a series of detective novels that have become world-famous. Featuring a fictionalized version of himself solving crimes in New York City and dispensing jokes, wisdom, recipes, charm and Jameson's whiskey in equal measure, the books are written in a straightforward style which owes a certain debt to Raymond Chandler, though Kinky has also quite fairly been referred to as the "Mark Twain of Texas."
Kinky continued to tour throughout the eighties, this time in support of his novels, and a series of international publishing deals took that touring around the globe. During this period, his musings began appearing in such places as the New York Times, Playboy and Texas Monthly (where he later wrote a regular column). Ebooks and audio books (read by Kinky, himself) of all his great detective novels are available on line.
In 1986, Kinky took a break from writing and touring to try something new - politics. He ran for justice of the peace in his home town of Kerrville, Texas. Though he lost the race, he did discover a passion for politics. It would be another eighteen years, but he would revisit that arena.
In the nineties, Kinky began branching out with more personal writings. Since then he has discussed everything from social mores ('Kinky Friedman's Guide To Texas Etiquette: Or How To Get To Heaven Or Hell Without Going Through Dallas-Fort Worth') to armadillos ('The Great Psychedelic Armadillo Picnic: A "Walk" In Austin'). He's even written a hit children's book ('The Christmas Pig: A Fable').
In 2004, the Kinkster returned to the political field, this time daring the state of Texas to think big and elect him governor in 2006. Running on a shoestring budget, with help from folks like Jesse Ventura and his Minnesota team of political handlers, Kinky garnered over a half million votes - not good enough to win it, but good enough to influence Texas politics long onto the future. Kinky was the first candidate in the history of the state to make it onto the November ballot as an Independent candidate - astounding, considering his campaign motto: "Why the hell not?"
In February 2007, Sustain Records released a compilation of the songs of Kinky Friedman sung by other artists called 'Pearls In The Snow.' The album includes contributions by Dwight Yoakam, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and Kelly Willis, and is one of two Kinky tribute albums available today. More recently, hot rising star Jesse Dayton recorded a full cd of Kinky songs, which received enormous interest in Nashville and around the US.
A second return to politics in 2014 saw Kinky running for Texas State Agriculture Commissioner on a full-legalization platform that may not have won him an election, but that has been instrumental in Texas now considering both medical use and personal use marijuana legalization in its state legislature, proving once and for all that the Kinkster is truly the "governor of the heart of Texas."
In 2015, Kinky reinvented himself yet again, this time with his first all new studio album in nearly forty years. Signed to Avenue A Records/Thirty Tigers, Kinky, with the help of producer Brian Molnar and guitarist Joe Cirotti, presented an "all new Kinky," with his cd, 'The Loneliest Man I Ever Met.' Filled with never-heard-before Kinky originals and beautifully rendered covers of such artists as Tom Waits, Warren Zevon and Willie Nelson, the cd is all about Kinky's ultimate ability to deliver much more than just a funny line or humorous tune. The spare, yet lush arrangements all pointed up Kinky's unique talent as both a songwriter and interpreter of great material. Guest performers Nelson, Little Jewford and Mickey Raphael supported but never overrode the simplicity and grace of the tunes and the artist.
And there is more on the horizon too! Kinky has ten more brand new songs in the can for what has become an eagerly anticipated 2018 release from the ever-evolving Kinkster. In November 2017, a full-on biography from Back beat Books hit the shelves. Authored by Mary Lou Sullivan, who recently published the highly regarded Johnny Winter bio, and titled 'Everything's Bigger In Texas - The Life And Times Of Kinky Friedman,' it has received enormous interest, and it has been exactly that: an enormous hit.
Kinky has also co-authored a new book (pub date: early 2018) that also promises to be a huge winner. Working with Louie Kemp, lifelong friend and associate of Bob Dylan, Kinky has helped write perhaps the definitive book about Bob Dylan - not so much a biography as a sort of "tales of Bob" excursion through life from the time of his meeting with Louie to the present day. Also very highly anticipated.
And on July 3rd, he will be releasing bias first all-new self-penned album in nearly forty years, 'Circus Of Life.' He's releasing it on his own terms and on his own Echo Hill Records label. A monster summer tour follows in June, July, and August. Yep, Kinky is finally doing it his way. Harking to his early years, he has chosen to ignore the Nashville ethos, that all must be concertedly "radio friendly," sweetened, and over-produced. What he and producer Brian Molnar have delivered is simply one of the most beautiful albums of this year or any other. The first single, Autographs In The Rain (Song To Willie) is already in heavy rotation on SiriusXM Outlaw Country, and there are at least four more top shelf A sides.
With Joe Cirotti on multiple instruments, and Mickey Raphael, Augie Meyers, Original Jewboy Little Jewford, Clay Meyers and Jim Beal providing amazing grace notes, not a single track on the album fails to reach its very high mark. Kinky may "just have to stick with songwriting" after all. To verify this, he's taking it on the road, for one of the longest, most comprehensive tours of his storied career. After flash mob-style appearances in Galveston, Houston and Nacogdoches, TX, the 'Circus Of Life Tour' begins in earnest in Pittsburgh, and rumor has it that it will continue on forever. Yes, the second act has begun. May it never end.
Jim Hoehn is a Milwaukee-based journalist/author/songwriter who has carved out a surprisingly successful niche as a performing songwriter since first stumbling out of the pressbox with a guitar.
As a career journalist - much of it spent as a sportswriter - Hoehn has covered everything from plane crashes to murder trials to the Super Bowl and the Hong Kong 7s rugby tournament.
As a source of family editorial pride, he's also the guy who broke the Jeffrey Dahmer story for the National Enquirer.
His latest recording project, "Silhouette of a Fool," includes 10 original songs brought to life under the production guidance of Milwaukee's John Sieger, founder of Semi-Twang and cofounder of the iconic R&B Cadets (with Paul Cebar).
Songs off the CD are receiving considerable airplay on alt-country and Americana programs in the U.S.; Canada, Europe and Australia. "Silhouette of a Fool" cracked the Americana Freeform Chart in August (not high, but on the chart nonetheless).
Since winning a songwriting contest and making his first public appearance at Milwaukee's Summerfest, Hoehn has maintained a time-available schedule of dates throughout the Midwest and across the country, drawing an eclectic audience of sportswriters, rugby players and the occasional normal person.
Hoehn has opened for a veritable who's who of American songwriters, including Rodney Crowell, Jerry Jeff Walker, Don McLean, Robert Earl Keen, Don Williams, Rick Springfield, Junior Brown, Todd Snider, Jack Ingram, Warren Zevon, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Steve Forbert, Kinky Friedman, Roger McGuinn and James McMurtry.
His songwriting has led to performances at prestigious music festivals hosted in Texas and Oklahoma by the likes of Gary P. Nunn and Larry Joe Taylor and an appearance on the Mitch Albom national TV show.
He has appeared at numerous Trop-Rock events such as the annual Meeting of the Minds in Key West; Six String Music Festival in New Orleans; Phins to the West in Laughlin, Nev.; Stars Fell on Alabama; Flipperstock in St. Louis; Pardi Gras in New Orleans; and Migration in Las Vegas.
His recordings include "Silhouette of a Fool," "Royalty Check Hotel," "Deadline Penitentiary," "Playa del Pressbox" and "Live at RACAfest" as well as four volumes of "Thongs In The Key Of Life," a compilation of tropical music by the best writers on the sunburn circuit, which he produced.
His CDs, "Royalty Check Hotel" and "Deadline Penitentiary" were recorded in Texas with the help of some of Austin's finest musicians, including guitarist/producer John Inmon who was for many years the lead guitarist for Jerry Jeff Walker as part of the Lost Gonzo Band.
Songs off both CDs received considerable airplay on Americana, folk or alt-country shows around the U.S.; Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
His ode to escaping cubicle life, "Callin' In Gone," was a finalist for Trop Rock song of the Year in 2010; has been recorded by beach circuit favorites, The Boat Drunks, and is a setlist staple for several bands and performers across the country.
For the four years, Hoehn also has been the host of the Trop Rock Music Awards show in Key West, Fla.
Hoehn also is the author of the award-winning book, "The Father's Guide to Birth, Babies and Loud Children," and was the host of the radio show, "The Three-Chord Barbecue," on Radio Margaritaville and Island Dreamz Radio.
9ThuAugust 9, 2018Guitar Legend Dick Dale
Dick Dale invented surf music in the 1950's. Not the '60's as is commonly believed. He was given the title "King of the Surf Guitar" by his fellow surfers with whom he surfed with from sun-up to sun-down. He met Leo Fender the guitar and amplifier Guru and Leo asked Dale to play his newly creation, the Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar. The minute Dale picked up the guitar, Leo Fender broke into uncontrolled laughter and disbelief, he was watching Dale play a right handed guitar upside down and backwards, Dale was playing a right handed guitar left handed and changing the chords in his head then transposing the chords to his hands to create a sound never heard before.
Leo Fender gave the Fender Stratocaster along with a Fender Amp to Dale and told him to beat it to death and tell him what he thought of it. Dale took the guitar and started to beat it to death, and he blew up Leo Fender's amp and blew out the speaker. Dale proceeded to blow up forty nine amps and speakers; they would actually catch on fire. Leo would say, 'Dick, why do you have to play so loud?' Dale would explain that he wanted to create the sound of Gene Krupa the famous jazz drummer that created the sounds of the native dancers in the jungles along with the roar of mother nature's creature's and the roar of the ocean.
Leo Fender kept giving Dale amps and Dale kept blowing them up! Till one night Leo and his right hand man Freddy T. went down to the Rendezvous Ballroom on the Balboa Peninsula in Balboa, California and stood in the middle of Four Thousand screaming dancing Dick Dale fans and said to Freddy, I now know what Dick Dale is trying to tell me. Back to the drawing board. A special 85 watt output transformer was made that peaked 100 watts when dale would pump up the volume of his amp, this transformer would create the sounds along with Dale's style of playing, the kind of sounds that Dale dreamed of. BUT! they now needed a speaker that would handle the power and not burn up from the volume that would come from Dale's guitar.
Leo, Freddy and Dale went to the James B. Lansing speaker company, and they explained that they wanted a fifteen inch speaker built to their specifications. That speaker would soon be known as the 15'' JBL -D130 speaker. It made the complete package for Dale to play through and was named the Single Showman Amp. When Dale plugged his Fender Stratocaster guitar into the new Showman Amp and speaker cabinet, Dale became the first creature on earth to jump from the volume scale of a modest quiet guitar player on a scale of 4 to blasting up through the volume scale to TEN! That is when Dale became the "Father of Heavy Metal" as quoted from Guitar Player Magazine. Dale broke through the electronic barrier limitations of that era!
Dale still wanted to go further, and as the crowds increased, Dale's volume increased, but he still wanted a bigger punch with thickness in the sound so that it would pulsate into the audience and leave them breathless. The JBL-D130 was doing its job until Dale froze it in the frame that held the speaker, the speaker cone would twist from the heavy playing from Dale and it would soon twist and stop to fluctuate back n forth.
Leo, Freddy and Dale went back to the JBL speaker company and told them to rubberize the front ridge of the speaker allowing it to push forward and backward from the signal of Dale's guitar without cocking and twisting. The new updated version was called the JBL D-130F; the F stood for Fender.
Leo, Freddy and Dale designed a speaker cabinet and in which they installed 2 -15''-JBL-D130F's. This caused Leo Fender to have to create a new and more powerful output transformer, they would call it the Dick Dale Transformer and it was made by the Triad Company.
This became the 100 watt output transformer that would actually peak 180 watts. Nothing like this had ever been done before in the world of guitars and amplifiers. This became known as the Dual-Showman Piggy Back Amp. This is why Dick Dale is called the Father of all the power Players in the world!
It is a Phenomena, that Dale is still playing with not only the same vengeance as he did in the 50's, but his playing is unleashed and shredding into the 90's with a focus and power as if from mother nature. He shares the stage with fellow players of all generations up into the alternative's of the 90's. Being completely self taught, Dick Dale plays left handed upside down which was a result of holding the guitar left-handed. The strings became upside-down, chords are designed for right handed players making it very difficult for a left handed player unless he were to change the strings for a left handed guitar, something that Dale never did.
Dale is also a master at the Acoustic, Electronic, Bass and Spanish Guitars'. As well as the Ukulele, Banjo, Drums, Piano, Organ, Electronic Keyboard, Harpsichord, Trumpet, Trombone, Saxophone, Harmonica, Xylophone and, believe it or not... the Accordion!
Dale was also responsible for another creation to the world of guitar players, "The Fender Tank Reverb". As Dale sang in his shows, he found that he did not have a vibrato in his voice, and he did not like the straight flat dry sound. to sustain his vocal notes, he turned to an old Hammond organ and found a reverb unit and showed it to Leo Fender and together they came up with the "Fender Tank Reverb". Dale then plugged a Shure Dynamic Bird cage Microphone into it and as Dale sang, his voice took on a very rich, sexy and full sound. Later, Dale then plugged his Fender Stratocaster guitar into the Reverb Tank to sustain his guitar notes which became Dale's trademark sound.) (NOTE) Dale had already been titled "King of the Surf Guitar" by his surfer friends before his creation of the Fender Reverb, Dale's first album called "Surfer's Choice" was the first Surfing album to be commercially sold with a picture of Dale surfing by the pier in San Clemente, Ca. with a surfing title on it. This album alone sold over eighty-eight thousand albums in the late 50's and today in the 90's it would be like 4 million. There was not one song on that album that had a Reverb for effects, everything was played with nothing but Dale's sheer force and power. A bit of trivia, Dale's recording of "Miserlou" became the title song for Quentin Tarantino's Blockbuster movie "Pulp Fiction".
Dick Dale has been called one of the hardest working men in show business. In the past five years he has maintained a heavy concert tour and public appearance schedule throughout the world. Focusing in Europe, Australia, Japan, Canada, South America and the U.S.
11SatAugust 11, 2018Circa 62
Eoin McCarthy8:00pm $12.00CIRCA 62 is a Rock n Roll/Americana band from Los Angeles whose core members consist of Max Goldman and Milwaukee native Gina Romantini (Whiskey Of The Damned, Trapper Schoepp). The two are veterans of the LA music scene who have made their careers as musical hired guns, backing up such artists as The Wallflowers, Fountains of Wayne, The Jayhawks, Nick Fradiani, Tiffany Houghton and many others.
In recent months they have have joined forces with the top musicians in LA to make their upcoming Debut LP 'Collateral Loans', to be released this summer. This album, along with numerous singles, has been graced with such talent as Tommy Stinson (The Replacements/Guns N' Roses), Jeff Babko (Jimmy Kimmel Live, James Taylor), Larry Williams (Michael Jackson, Al Jarreau), Max Bernstein (Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato) to name a few.
With high-energy rock 'n roll chops and melodic pop hooks countered by gritty B3 organ and country fiddle, CIRCA 62 are taking their unique sound on the road. The band will be announcing a full tour schedule for Summer 2018 in support of 'Collateral Loans'. Stay tuned for show dates, record release and press updates.
13MonAugust 13, 2018Pokey LaFarge
2014 has been Pokey's most momentous year yet; by spring, he had brought his music to five continents, with international tours in India, Australia and New Zealand. In the past year, Pokey's tour trail (consisting of over 250 shows) included appearances at clubs and festivals across the USA and Canada as well as two extensive tours in Europe. Pokey has played with the likes of Jack White, The Raconteurs, Wanda Jackson, Old Crow Medicine Show, and most recently, Carolina Chocolate Drops. As an opening act on Jack White's Blunderbuss tour, he delighted sold out crowds at Red Rocks Amphitheater and Radio City Music Hall, among other notable venues in North America. Pokey is currently touring with a five-piece backing band, including his original bandmates (Ryan Koenig on harmonica, washboard and snare, Adam Hoskins on guitar and Joey Glynn on upright bass), in addition to Chloe Feoranzo on clarinet and TJ Muller on cornet.
At only 31 years old, Pokey's career has not slowed in momentum since it began with his first release Marmalade (2007). Shortly followed by Beat, Move and Shake (2008) and Riverboat Soul (2010), Pokey quickly graduated from breakthrough artist to leading musical figure, receiving two consecutive Independent Music Awards for Best Americana Album (Riverboat Soul and Middle of Everywhere).
Pokey's music transcends the confines of genre, continually challenging the notion that tradition-bearers fail to push musical boundaries. Rather than merely conjuring up half-forgotten imagery of days past, Pokey is a lyrical storyteller, the plot delivered smoothly through his dynamic vocals. Both on stage and off, his effortless wit never fails to charm audiences, giving way to a live music experience that manages to be grandiose and unassuming all at once. Born in the heartland of America and based in St. Louis, Missouri, Pokey's Midwestern charisma welcomes his audiences with open arms.
Pokey LaFarge is on a mission, encouraging fans worldwide to think differently about what it means to celebrate musical traditions. Simply put, Pokey explains, "It's not retro music. It's American music that never died."
14TueAugust 14, 2018The Richard Lloyd Group
Lloyd embarked on a solo career after Television disbanded, releasing seven solo albums and working as a guitarist, session musician, and band member with Matthew Sweet, John Doe, Rocket from the Tombs, and more.
Released in October 2017, Lloyd's book, Everything Is Combustible: Television, CBGB's and Five Decades of Rock and Roll: The Memoirs of an Alchemical Guitarist establishes Lloyd as a masterful storyteller, and a humorous, insightful writer with an acerbic, razor-sharp wit.
17FriAugust 17, 2018Derrick Procell
Danny Miller Band8:00pm $10.00Derrick's been singing since he was a kid. He was in bar bands before he was legal. He did his first recording as the lead singer in a band, Mothers Worry, when he was 16, and ever since then he's been Mr. Studio Guy.
Derrick is a natural singer and musician. Originally hailing from Milwaukee, he was always a sought after front man. This led him to a lengthy stint with Midwestern faves, Arroyo. His energy and talent together made him irresistible to audiences. Always in great demand, he has logged over a million hours on stage and in the studio, including providing vocals for advertising giants like McDonald's, Chevy, Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Kellogg's.
You've probably noticed that most really great singers play an instrument, too. No exception here. Derrick plays piano and totally rocks on the harmonica. So, of course, an incredible singer who's also a smokin' musician is going to write songs. Some earlier stuff that he wrote for the bands he was in won all kinds of awards. Derrick's songs have been recorded by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Logan Daniels and Melissa Manchester.
You have heard Derrick's songs on My Name is Earl, Criminal Minds, Boston Legal, Saving Grace, Providence, True Blood, and King of the Hill.
Derrick's songs have been included in projects by The American Cancer Society, Music From the Heart and The Children's Heart Foundation. He has also been the recipient of songwriting awards from the Wisconsin Area Music Institute, Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase and Billboard Magazine.
Derrick writes from the heart, but he can also write on demand. He has his own home studio, Hear & Now, where he produces his own stuff and where he also records and produces for other musicians and voice actors.
18SatAugust 18, 2018Michigan Rattlers
"Petoskey is a small place. Beautiful, but secluded. It's hard to start a musical career in a place where there are more deer than people."
Still, they regularly played every bar, cafe, and stage in town, developing a musical chemistry informed by the likes of AC/DC, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Seger, and more.
After a few years apart, Reed and Young settled down in Los Angeles, recorded a short demo, and began playing locally. The demo found its way into the hands of super-producer Johnny K (Plain White T's, 3 Doors Down), and they cut the bulk of their first EP at NRG Studios in just one day.
"My favorite music is recorded that way," continues Reed. "You get in a room, plug in, and cut songs live. The energy of the recording comes directly from the physical performance, and it puts the listener into that specific time and place."
This self-titled Michigan Rattlers EP attracted glowing reviews from No Depression, Bluegrass Situation, B3 Science, and Rolling Stone, who named the band one of their "Ten New Country Artists You Need To Know" in 2016. They spent the rest of that year and much of the next touring in support of this release.
In September 2017, Pianist Christian Wilder was added to the band's lineup. Now a trio, the group headed into the studio to record their newest EP, Wasting the Meaning. Comprised of three cover songs, the project was conceived as a way to explore deeper into the recording process and pay homage to some of their favorite songwriters.
19SunAugust 19, 2018
Dana Erlandson has been making his homegrown "Americana" music for more than 30 years. He has opened for and in many cases played with..... America, Brewer and Shipley, Jackson Browne, Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart, Steve Forbert, Richie Furay, Nanci Griffith, John Hartford, John Hiatt, Lucy Kaplansky, Leo Kottke, David Lindley, Pat MacDonald, Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys, Kevin Montgomery, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Todd Snider, Al Stewart, Greg Trooper, and Jerry Jeff Walker . Dana celebrates a new decade with a brand new CD release called "Coming Home".
21TueAugust 21, 2018
Indeed, while Wolf Den served as a powerful intro to the young singer-bassist-songwriter's funky, blues-steeped songcraft, Cry No More, set for release on February 23rd, 2018 via Concord Records, takes the artist into fresh new creative territory, delivering 14 emotion-charged new songs whose rootsy musical edge is matched by their air of hard-won personal experience.
Danielle Nicole's expansive approach yields deeply compelling musical results throughout Cry No More. With seasoned veteran Tony Braunagel (Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Burdon) producing, such heartfelt, groove-intensive new tunes as "Crawl," "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore," the Bill Withers-penned "Hot Spell" and the heart-tugging title track find Danielle cutting loose and focusing on the storytelling and character-development aspects of her songwriting.
"I wanted to open up more about myself, and I think it shows in the songs," Danielle asserts. "I thought really hard about the stories I wanted to tell in these songs. I really dug into my personal experience, and worked to be more open and expose more of myself than I have in the past.
"There's a song there about my father, 'Bobby,' who passed away a long time ago," she continues. "That was a big one for me, because I'd never gone there before. And I've had lots of changes going on in my life, so the title track, 'Cry No More,' is about moving on and letting go, and about getting over things and moving past them. There are a lot of songs on this album about moving on, although that wasn't a conscious direction. Every song is a different story, and every song has a purpose and a perspective."
While Danielle wrote or co-wrote nine of Cry No More's 14 songs, the seductive "Hot Spell" was given to Danielle by its author, long-retired R&B legend Bill Withers. Withers was a surprise visitor to the album's recording sessions at L.A.'s Ultratone Studios, and was so impressed with Danielle's singing that he dug into his archives and offered her the song, which he wrote back in the '70s, but which had gone unrecorded since then.
"Bill is one of my all-time musical heroes," Danielle notes. "We played him a couple of the songs we'd been working on, and he said 'Come on, let's go out to my car for a minute.' So we were hanging out in his SUV, and he's shuffling through his glovebox and he pulls out this disc and says 'I've got this song; it's a bit risqué, but if you don't mind, I'll play it for you.' It was this demo that he'd done, with his daughter doing the vocals. It was real moody and had a great groove, and it was Bill all the way. He told me that if I liked it, I was welcome to record it."
She didn't have to be told twice. "There was a section on the demo where Bill's scatting where the guitar solo would be. We asked him to do that on my version, but he's retired, so he respectfully declined to sing on it. So I sang the scat line and harmonized to it, in his honor. He dug it!"
Danielle enlisted an old friend, Braunagel, who also produced the last two albums by her old family band, Trampled Under Foot, to record the album. The pair's longstanding creative rapport is apparent throughout Cry No More, on which Braunagel co-wrote five songs with Danielle.
"I really wanted to work with Tony on this record, because I knew that he would get the best out of me," Danielle explains. "We've really developed a great working relationship and we write together really well, and I knew that Tony could help me develop these stories into songs.
"This whole record was like a dream come true," she adds. "I got to do the songs I wanted to do, work with the producer I wanted to work with, and record in the studio I wanted to record in. It was really cool how everything fell into place. All of the songs were what I wanted them to be, and all of the players were perfect for the songs. Every aspect of this album, from the birth of the songs to the mastering, was really free and organic."
In addition to Danielle on bass, producer Braunagel on drums and longtime Bonnie Raitt guitarist Johnnie Lee Schell (who also engineered the sessions), Cry No More features appearances by such notable guitarists as Kenny Wayne Shepherd (on "Save Me"), Luther Dickinson (on "Just Can't Keep From Crying"), Walter Trout (on "Burnin' for You"), Sonny Landreth (on "I'm Going Home"), Danielle's touring guitarist Brandon Miller (on "Baby Eyes"), and her brother and former bandmate Nick Schnebelen (on "Crawl").
The musical expertise and emotional depth of Cry No More reflect of a lifetime's worth of music-making. Born Danielle Nicole Schnebelen, Danielle comes from a long line of singers and musicians, and showed an affinity for singing almost from birth. Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, she performed in public for the first time at the age of 12, singing Koko Taylor's "Never Trust a Man" as part of a Blues for Schools program at her elementary school. In her early teens, she began singing in local coffeehouses and at open mic events, often jamming with her parents at clubs that would allow minors. At 16, she became lead singer in her father's band, Little Eva and the Works. In 1999, she started her own band, Fresh Brew, with some older local musicians. Fresh Brew performed for four years and represented Kansas City in the prestigious International Blues Challenge.
It was during this time that Danielle and her brothers Nick and Kris launched a family band, Trampled Under Foot, relocating to Philadelphia in the process. To maintain the family concept, Danielle learned to play bass, eventually mastering the instrument. Trampled Under Foot traveled the world and recorded several self-released albums, building a sizable national fan base through years of nonstop roadwork. For their 2013 album Badlands, produced by Braunagel, Trampled Under Foot moved to the Telarc label, a division of Concord Music Group. Badlands debuted at #1 on Billboard's Blues Chart.
As Trampled Under Foot wound down after an eventful 13-year run, Danielle formed her own band and signed with Concord Records, releasing a self-titled EP and the Anders Osborne-produced album Wolf Den in 2015. Those releases established Danielle as a formidable solo artist and bandleader.
"I learned a lot from the last album," Danielle states. "It was the first time I was writing and recording and choosing all of the material on my own, which was a big thing for me. I had been in a band with my brothers for 13 years, but it's a whole different thing when it's your name that's on the line. That aspect feels a lot more comfortable now, and I can make decisions without worrying about what everybody else will think."
Nicole's distinctive, inventive bass work--which resulted in her becoming the first woman to win the Blues Foundation's 2014 Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist, Bass--is the product of years of intensive roadwork. Although she had no experience with the instrument when she became Trampled Under Foot's bassist, now she can't imagine life without it.
"Playing the bass definitely influences the way I sing, the way I write and the way I approach music," she says. "As I've progressed more, the bass lines have been getting a lot more intricate. It's still a challenge to sing while playing bass, because it's very rare that the bass line and the vocal go together. I still get tripped up sometimes, but at this point I'd never give up the bass.
"When I started doing my solo thing," she continues, "someone asked me if I was gonna hire a bass player. No, of course not! I originally picked up the bass to keep Trampled Under Foot a family band, but I really fell in love with it. It was a huge challenge, and it still is. But I really love being part of the groove and getting to sing on top of that. I had learned some stuff on acoustic guitar before I started playing bass, but I never really felt connected to it the way I do with the bass. It's empowering, walking onto a stage full of grown men who can play their asses off, and it's 'OK, I'm gonna play this bass, we're gonna do this, and it's gonna rock.'"
With Cry No More marking a substantial creative step forward, Danielle Nicole is ready to reap her musical destiny.
"I think that it's a good time for the kind of thing I'm doing," she states. "From my years of playing blues festivals, I've seen that younger and younger audiences are getting into the blues. I think that people want to hear authentic music again."
22WedAugust 22, 2018Birdtalker
Sons of Daughters
Zack and Dani were married in 2012 and soon after their wedding tried writing a couple songs together. They liked it, so they wrote a couple more. Andy, a friend from college and very talented drummer, was into the songs and started beating on stuff while Zack and Dani played them. It sounded good. While these 3 were playing the songs at Shakespeare in the Park one August afternoon, Brian became interested in adding his immense talent to the mix as well and began playing along with mandolin and guitar. It sounded even better. Birdtalker as these 4 members wrote and practiced for about a year when yet another talented friend and Birdtalker's biggest fan, Jesse, expressed interest in lending his bass sounds to the band. It is the combination of each member's specific offerings that gives Birdtalker the life and sound that it now possesses. And it doesn't hurt that they all like each other a heck of a lot, too.
Zack and Dani write songs as a way to share ideas they care about and sentiments they feel deeply. Playing music has proven to be a powerful avenue for connection and communion, within the band as well as with listeners. Birdtalker's hope is simply that the more music they write and share, the more true and vulnerable interactions may be born from it.
23ThuAugust 23, 2018
Who is Bobby Fuller? He's the star of the ultimate Rock and Roll Babylon feel-bad story.
The title track came out of an obsession Prophet shares with co-conspirator klipschutz. Prophet explains, "One day we were sitting in my so-called office South of Market listening to LPs, when out of frustration --I picked up a guitar and shouted, 'I hear that record crackle, the needle skips and jumps!' and klipschutz shot back, '"Bobby Fuller died for your sins!'"
One thing led to another, and ten months later he found himself at the legendary Hyde St. Studios in the heart of the Tenderloin "slaving over a hot two-inch tape machine, cutting tracks with Brad Jones, Paul Q. Kolderie, and Matt Winegar riding herd." And pumping it all into the echo chamber. No computer in sight and two-inch tape boxes stacked up to the ceiling.
Prophet realizes that the title track makes a heavy claim, and laughs at the suggestion it might shine new light on the mystery long surrounding Bobby Fuller's early demise. Fuller, who migrated from El Paso to L.A. in the early 1960s, has been described as "a greaser in a world of Beach Boy bangs and Beatle boots, hopelessly out of step with the times." Found dead in his car at the age of 23, to a devoted coterie of fans, old and new, he'll always remain the skinny guy singing "I Fought the Law," on countless teen dance TV shows, and radio playlists. Ruled a suicide, his death has haunted investigators (and biographers Miriam Linna and Randall Fuller) since 1966. "Some resolution would be nice," Prophet says, "but I run a band, not a Cold Case squad."
The Mission Express, Prophet's band, which includes his wife Stephanie Finch, provided the backing. "Talented, difficult people who all played their hearts out. You can hear it," he says. And recording at Hyde Street -- walking distance from his apartment -- was a homecoming of sorts. "I did my first session there, in high school no less," says Prophet. He even dragged out his '64 Stratocaster, a guitar that Jonathan Richman said sounds, "like gasoline in the sand, like a motorcycle at a hot dog stand."
Prophet says, "there's a serious Link Wray jones that you might not hear in here too. But it's there. Guitars and drums. Rock and roll. I just haven't found anything that hits me the same way. That two guitar, bass and drums feeling."
With titles such as "Bad Year for Rock and Roll," "Post-War Cinematic Dead Man Blues," "We Got Up and Played, and, "If I Was Connie Britton," Prophet allows that, "there just might be some songs on this one. John Murry, who is never at a loss for words, says the goal is to make a record you can be proud and unsure of at the same time. Naked and belligerent, but sweetly so... I can't improve on that."
"Bad Year for Rock and Roll" is a timely homage to rock greats lost this year, Prophet name-checking David Bowie in the opening lines: "The Thin White Duke took a final bow / there's one more star in the heavens now...I'm all dressed up in a mohair suit / watching Peter Sellers thinking of you."
The album closes with the blistering "Alex Nieto," which Prophet calls "my first protest song. I know you've listened to me rant about Twitter and how I believe San Francisco is under siege by techie man-children and billionaires." But still, he never dreamed he'd be in the middle of a culture war with real bodies. Born and raised in the City, Alex Nieto was on his way to work as a security guard when he ended up with 59 bullets in and around him, all fired by the police. There's a lot more to the story, and the details are available to anyone who wants to know. The song is a two-chord homage to a good man who should still be alive.
Just one more sign of the apocalypse.
In today's musical landscape inundated by cheap hooks and overproduced studio tricks, Jeremy & The Harlequins are here to keep the fire and spirit of rock'n'roll alive. That's something the New York five-piece have been doing since forming just a few short years ago, both with their debut album American Dreamer (2015) and its follow-up Into The Night (2016). They're continuing this approach with their third album in three years, entitled Remember This, which they started writing at home in New York, immediately after the recording of Into The Night.
"By the time that record was released," explains front man Jeremy Fury, "I had about two thirds of Remember This written. I wrote the songs in my apartment in Hell's Kitchen and then we worked on the majority of the arrangements as a band together at the infamous Music Building near Times Square."
Remember This has all the hallmarks of a Jeremy & The Harlequins record, but at the same time it sees the five-piece expanding on their own musical boundaries. While Jeremy & The Harlequins' music has been permeated by nostalgia for the classic licks, riffs and aesthetic of rock'n'roll's golden age, this new record sees the band widening their sonic horizons with the help of producer Rick Parker.
"We wanted to make a classic American rock record," explains front man Jeremy Fury. "When we made American Dreamer, I was really bored with rock music in general and I felt the only place to go was to strip it down and pull from the past. I was listening to a lot of '50s and '60s rock'n'roll at that time, but for this record, I didn't want to limit myself to drawing from a certain amount of influences. And I feel these are the strongest songs we've ever written. It's a definite progression, but also a reaction to what we've done in the past."
This next phase of the band's career was marked by first single "Little One" hitting the airwaves in August of 2017, and the band plans to release a series of songs until the album is released in 2018. The new material comes with a shift in direction due to the fact that Jeremy & The Harlequins -- completed by guitarists Craig Bon and Patrick Meyer, bassist Bobby Ever and Jeremy's brother Stevie Fury on drums -- are a band who have never stopped moving or creating. Recorded in LA with producer Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Lord Huron, Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts) in the historic Beachwood Canyon and Boyle Heights, Remember This offers a widescreen vision of America that focuses on the urgency of the present moment but which also retains the band's magical, romantic vision of and reverence for the past.
"I'd say I have a pretty decent record collection," says Jeremy. "I love music and I wanted to take the best aspects of the things that I like and roll them into our sound. I feel like America is in a period of reinvention right now -- everything from fashion to what we drink to the restaurants we eat at are all being reinvented -- and I wanted to take things from the past that I loved and create something refreshing and new."
The band were able to easily and naturally shift their sonic direction on their own, working with Parker enabled them to fully realize that vision.
"It wasn't until the bulk of the material was arranged that we realized this record would sound a little bit better a little more polished than our previous albums," says Jeremy. "We had phone calls with various producers and studios but in the end, we knew Rick was the right man for the job. He has a knack for getting the best performances and gets a lot of good instrument sounds. Also, he's incredible at mixing."
At the same time, these are songs that very much exist in the context of America in 2017, and under the cloud of a tumultuous political landscape. That's something Jeremy found was impossible to not confront, but that's not to say these are vehemently political songs, however. Rather, they offer a glimpse of the world as it could and should be.
"Lyrically, these songs are concerned a lot more with what's going on around us," says Jeremy. "I think it's important to remember that everyone's still human. You walk down the street in any city and people co-exist, so I think our message when it comes to the more political songs isn't picking a side and rallying against the other, but more saying we're all here together, and that it's important to reach across the table and realize we're all human."
In a few short years, Jeremy & The Harlequins have made a sizeable impression in the streets and venues of New York, becoming a vibrant part of the city's alternative scene. Given their heritage, that's not surprising.
"Craig and I had been working at putting together a new band after we parted from our previous endeavors," explains Jeremy on the band's origins in Ohio. "We were at our wits' end trying to find the right sound. My brother had been living in Paris and was back in town visiting family. While he was back, we started working on a bunch of songs I had written over the course of eight years. He was like, 'We're back for three weeks, why don't we make an album?' It's easy to put ideas like that off, but we just did it and it went from there. Craig met Patrick a day before he came out to Detroit, which was where we made American Dreamer."
Jeremy admits that, initially, the band "didn't really have any aspirations beyond making the record" but then momentum started to gather. "Trip Into The Light", the first song on American Dreamer, was featured in the Tom Cruise movie Edge Of Tomorrow. It was also voted 2015's 'coolest track in the world' by the listeners of Little Steven's Underground Garage radio show, and topped the Best of 2014 Readers and Fans' Poll of New York's emerging music magazine The Deli. The band even enlisted The Big Short actor John Magaro to direct the video for "Into The Night."
That momentum continues to push the band forward. Each track is one part of a brand new whole, a sound that Jeremy terms "new American rock'n'roll." It's a simple yet effective description, one that captures both the mood and the sound of the band's music. Because these are songs which span the past, present and future, songs which are deeply rooted in the history of rock'n'roll but which brim with urgency of now. These are tunes you'll be humming for years, and which, in your heart of hearts, you'll swear you've been singing for decades already.
"I've always wanted to have a song or a few songs that become part of people's lives," says Jeremy. "I think that'd be my highest aspiration."
24FriAugust 24, 2018The Producers
Originally formed as a Beatles cover band named Cartoon, they changed musical directions and began performing their own material in nightclubs around the Atlanta area. The response to their music was so good that they were quickly signed to CBS subsidiary Portrait Records by producer Tom Werman, who had worked with Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon and Mother's Finest among others. They released two albums for the Portrait label, The Producers (1981) and You Make the Heat (1982). The Producers became a regional favorite in the Southeastern United States, propelling "What She Does to Me" onto the national Billboard Magazine single charts. "What's He Got", "Certain Kinda Girl"' and "Who Do You Think You Are?" had some popularity as music videos, but did not chart.They toured extensively with Cheap Trick and The Motels. The also played with Toto and Hall and Oates. "She Sheila" from the second album was a popular MTV video. They headlined New Year's Rockin Eve in 1982. They released a 3rd album, "Run for Your Life" on their label in 1987. They were then signed by MCA to a deal, but before they could release the album a revamping occurred at MCA, so they released their 4th album, Coelacanth, on their own.
26SunAugust 26, 2018Ben Haggard
Liar's Trial (solo)
For fans of his late, legendary father, country music great Merle Haggard, his youngest son Ben is no Stranger -- in fact, he's been the lead guitarist in Hag's longtime band of the same name for the past eight years, since he was 15 years old, fitting in easily with veterans like musical director Norm Hamlet and Scott Joss.
Ben was a regular on Merle Haggard's recordings, took the stage with him and the Highwaymen (Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson) as well as Blake Shelton for a memorable performance at the 2014 Grammys and for the 2012 "All for the Hall" show besides two of his idols, Vince Gill and Keith Urban. Earlier this year, Ben was featured with the Strangers backing Toby Keith for a Merle tribute on the nationally televised American Country Countdown Awards. He also contributed versions of "Mama Tried" and "Sing Me Back Home" to 2014'sWorking Man's Poet:Tribute to Merle Haggard album which also featured Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Jake Owen, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley.
Since Merle's death on April 6, 2016 -- which was also his 79th birthday (a fact he had eerily predicted)-- Ben Haggard hasn't missed a beat, passing on the legacy of his dad's music with brother Noel and the Strangers, joined on several dates by longtime friend Kris Kristofferson, opening for another frequent Hag partner, Willie Nelson.
Taking the torch from the Haggard paterfamilias, Haggard recalls a conversation he had with Merle, who sported what his son described as "a look of great depth in his eyes... He was always right about something he said because he had thought about it for so long. He overanalyzed everything to the finest degree in the most artistic way possible."
Ben recalls Merle telling him, "You'd be an idiot not to take my guitar and my bus, not to sing my songs for as long as you can... Go out there and play until there's nobody to play to."
And that is precisely what Ben Haggard has done over these past months and will continue to do in the near-future, effectively putting his own promising musical career on the back burner for the time being -- even as he plans to relocate to Nashville to pursue his own artistic identity when he's ready.
For anyone who's heard young Haggard play guitar with his father, that talent is undeniable, but he's only recently discovered a singing voice that, while borrowing genetically from dad's well-worn gravitas, adds its own fresh take on songs like "Sing Me Back Home" (a performance of which is featured on Ben's Facebook page), "Heaven Was a Drink Of Wine," "Workin' Man Blues" and "What Am I Gonna Do With the Rest of My Life?," all of them taking on new meanings in the wake of Hag's passing.
"I watched him sing on-stage, absorbed the little things he was doing, the tricks with his voice, how he handled the crowd," says Ben, who obviously learned his lessons well. "It was like going back to school. Things I didn't realize I picked up from the eight years I spent on the road with him started to come into play. My fear of the mic kind of slipped away. Things just unfolded in a beautiful way. I'm now starting to feel comfortable singing for people."
Indeed, Ben Haggard has proven as natural a performer as you'd expect from someone with his DNA. "I've always suffered from stage fright. I only sang in front of my father a couple of times, once live and once in the studio. All of a sudden, he's telling me I've got to sing for everybody. I had to grow a pair of balls, get out there and do it."
His next challenge is to carve out his own musical career, lest he be accused, as he says in his own self-effacing way, "of riding someone else's coattails."
Ben describes an incident that took place when he was four years old, and just realizing his father was "somebody special."
"I asked him, 'Since you're famous, does that make me famous too?' And he said, 'Son, you've got to create your own thunder.' That's always stuck with me. I look back at that moment as if it were a movie. It's something I never forget."
When asked what his own musical personality might be, Ben admits, like his father, he feels like a bit of an outsider when it comes to contemporary country music.
"I couldn't really go out there and sing about drinking a beer on a tailgate under the moonlight," he laughs. "I want to sing about things I value within my heart. Honesty is always pushing against the grain, in a way. My dad always said it's easier to force-feed people something they don't want than actually giving them what they do."
Ben admits, "I've started to write and finish songs lately. I used to start writing and then never finish, but now, there's more material to draw from. I'm not writing about being 15 anymore; there are a lot of things I've gone through and had to overcome. I turned that talk I had with my dad about taking over for him into a song. When I record it, I think it's something that will resonate with people. It's about as real as you can get in regard to what he was telling me."
He also admits feeling a creative kinship with Americana artists like Sturgill Simpson, whose Metamodern Sounds in Country Music album proved a throwback to the music his father made. The two have struck up a friendship, with Simpson agreeing to produce Ben's albumwhen he's ready to record.
For now, Ben's content with burnishing his father's legacy, playing his songs and pleasing Merle's many fans, doing his part as the good son.
"When I'm compared to him, I realize it's to someone far greater, but it gives me hope and the drive to emerge from his shadow, and hopefully, one day, to stand just as tall," Ben says humbly. "Merle shot for the moon, and there's no reason I can't aim for it, too."
Back on-stage, Ben leans into one of his father's signature songs, "Footlights," about his own career, and, while fudging his age, the sentiment seems to ring true from one generation to the next.
"But I'm 41 years old and I ain't got no place to go/When it's over/So I hide my age and make the stage and/Try to kick the footlights out again."
For Ben Haggard, this is just the beginning of his artistic journey, and he still has plenty of places to go, but he looks well-prepared to kick out the footlights in his own right.
27MonAugust 27, 2018
Jamie McKeogh, Cathal Guinan and Daithi Melia all hail from Tullamore, Co.Offaly with Co. Tipperary born Gavin Strappe completing the quartet. All four members grew up immersed in Irish traditional music and culture which is reflected by the band collectively achieving over twenty All-Ireland titles at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann competitions. They have now developed their own unique style of music influenced by American Folk music whilst staying true to their Irish roots. Described as 'The best Irish group so far in bluegrass' this sharply dressed outfit deliver an energy-fuelled, foot-stomping live performance. All multi-instrumentalists, JigJam interchange between banjos, guitars, fiddles, mandolins and double bass onstage which creates an experience which is pleasing to both the eye and the ear.
JigJam have recorded two studio albums (OH BOY! 2014 & HELLO WORLD 2016) to critical acclaim as well as a live album (LIVE IN TULLAMORE 2017). They have made a huge impact on the Irish American circuit performing as a headline act at all the major festivals including the world-renowned Milwaukee Irish Fest as well as touring various parts of the UK and Europe.