Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Moby - Rare 360° Live Video - Lost In The World

When Moby came out with his new album "These Systems Are Failing" in October and had the single "Are You Lost In The World Like Me" released with a brilliant video, I wrote about it, here in a MMM - Music Blog "Moby - Lost In The World."

I also mentioned, that on October 23rd, he will have his only live performance of the year at his own vegan charity event, Circle V at the Fonda Teatre in Los Angeles benefiting animal rights organisation "Mercy For Animals." From that show he now released a rare 360° live video of his current single. (move your mouse to change the viewing angle.)

Kinda ironic (if you stay on the concert goers in the video) on how they use their smart phones to "capture the action." Not sure, if they actually got the true message of the song in its video.

Sources: Video (YouTube), Image - Moby at Decibel Festival 5 in 2013 (

Blog originally released on Niume (12/03/16) - Moby - Rare 360° Live Video - Lost In The World

Thursday, November 17, 2016

SR: "Hallelujah" Pentatonix Delivers New Version of "Hallelujah"

A couple of days after the passing of Canadian master-poet singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, (see my  obituary), I stumbled upon Texas a cappella quintet Pentatonix'version of the Cohen penned and by now cult song "Hallelujah" from their second Christmas album, "A PENTATONIX CHRISTMAS" which was released on October 21st together with the video. As to the Billboard Chart of 11/26 the album is still in the Top Five of the 200 Best Selling Albums in the US,

It looks like the video was filmed on the Salt Flats of Utah, but that's just a wild guess and I couldn't find any references on the net. So with over 300 versions of the legendary classic, how does the quintet rate. Actually great - as they offer an a cappella (without instruments) version, it sounds new and not just as another remake. And I assume, that 50 Million people agree, who have watched Pentatonix version since it's release roughly 4 weeks ago. (If only one percent of these viewers discover the greatness of the late Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley, the quintet's version did in my opinion well.) Unfortunately, the song didn't too well as a single and on the radio, it entered strong into the Top 100 (Billboard) on #32 (11/12), but has since then been falling. Maybe it will get a second wind with the passing of Cohen.

★★★★(★)/★★★★★ (4½/5)

I guess it proves the point how timeless that song is, the original version by Cohen was released 32 years ago, in 1984 on his album "VARIOUS POSITIONS" but hardly got recognized. Seven years later, former Velvet Underground man, John Cale, recorded a first version with added piano track. This one inspired a cut by Jeff Buckley on his debut and only full studio album "GRACE" in 1994. Buckley pretty much made the song his own, and until now with roughly 100 Million views, is the most viewed version on the streaming platform YouTube.

A year and a half ago, Newsweek in an article "60 Versions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", Ranked" actually tried to put many of the versions in order. Their Top-Five (5-1): k.d. lang from "HYMNS OF THE 40TH PARALLEL" 2004, Regina Spektor (concert for the Jewish Heritage Festival, 2005 YouTube - no recorded version), Rufus Wainwright (OST - SHREK: Music from the Original Motion Picture, 2001), Jeff Buckley ("GRACE" 1994): and John Cale ("I'M YOUR FAN" 1991) on top.

Below are Jeff Buckley's, k.d. lang's and John Cale's version of the song - you'll find the original in the obit I wrote On Niume.

Jeff Buckley

k.d. lang

John Cale

Sources: YouTube (Videos), (Pentatonix website), Newsweek, Billboard

Friday, October 28, 2016

Pussy Riot - "Organs" "Make America Great Again" "Straight Outta Vagina" - NSFW

Russian enfant terrible and political regime critic Pussy Riot or in this instance, just Nadya Tolokonnikova, is at it again. To promote her new EP "XXX" out today (10/28), she released all three songs as a video trilogy this week: "Organs," "Straight Outta Vagina" and "Make America Great Again." Latter a dystopian view on how a Donald Trump totalitarian presidency would look like. She compares him to Putin and warns people in this country to support him. 

Warning: The videos are graphic and not suited for a work environment.

To call her musically inclined, would be lying, what used to be punk screams made ways into a luscious electronica pop. But that's not the point, the anarcho punk collective tries to pillory patriarchy, excessive capitalism as well as the entanglement of politics and church. A by now well known spontaneous performance in a church, attacking how the Russian Orthodox Church and Vladimir Putin work hand in hand, led to three members of the collective, among them Nadya Tolokonnikova, being arrested, convicted and sentenced to two years in jail. Since then, the collective has distanced itself a long time ago from Tolokonnikova and accused her of selling out to corporate interests. She maintains that everybody can be part of the collective, it doesn't matter where and who you are, as long as you pick up the fight.

The western media seem to love it. The outing of charming dissidents with a pop culture approach is so much more convenient then reporting on Sergei Udaltsov or the brothers Navalny. Nadya by now on her own, jet sets between Moscow and Los Angeles and instead of a spontaneous guerilla release choose YouTube and from Rolling Stone to the Huffington Post, from Pitchfork to Time every major media organisation to promote her view.

Working together with David Sitek (TV On The Radio) they released a first collaboration in February with "Chaika" accusing the current Russian General Prosecutor Yuri Chaika of widespread corruption. Their collaborative efforts also produced "Organs" and "Straight Outta Vagina."

In the first one, "Organs" she sings, soaking in a bathtub full of blood in her native Russian again about corruption, but also injustice, oppression of female sexuality and the constant fear of the powers that are, organ(s) in a wide sense of meaning police, FSB or political forces.

my president replaced his dick with an ICBM
freedom and bondage is the same shit now
but when instead of inserting cocks they insert tanks in my town
i refuse to be just a proton
the theatre is over, the wars began
i’m a grandma who has changed her sex and became a grandpa
fuck you, dear pigs
i reject you and your Putunist crap
i never know which one of my moves will become my last moan

In "Straight Outta Vagina," again produced by Sitek and featuring Desi Mo and Leikeli47 as guests, is feminism pure and uses the V-word like it's a victory to celebrate the consciousness not only of motherhood but of feminism in general, with it's Nursery Rhyme like refrain:

Don’t play stupid
Don’t play dumb
Vagina’s where you’re really from

© Emily Hope - Shorefire Media
The message in the whole song is rather upbeat and a testament to and for women what all can be reached and achieved. Seize the power of the pussy.

My pussy my pussy
Is sweet just like a cookie
It goes to work
It makes the beats
It’s CEO, no rookie
From senator to bookie
We run this shit, go lookie
You can turn any page, any race, any age
From Russia to the States

We tearing up the place

"Make America Great Again", is a collaboration with Ricky Reed and was directed by Jonas Akerlund (Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj) and.  pretty much tackles the bull by the horns, warning of the neo-fascist tendencies Donald Trump and his movement are trying to implement in the USA.

According to Rolling Stone, it took her and Reed quite a while till they found the right tone for a more mass appealing video:

"Obviously we wanted to say, 'Fuck Trump,' and we were tempted to do that. But we decided at the end of the day we wanted to reach people who are undecided – undecided voters. So we were trying to write lyrics that were more or less making arguments for why Donald Trump is not good dude for [the] presidency."

So instead of brandishing Trump as misogynist, diversity hater the lyrics simply ask what people want in their future. The video images on the other hand with it's stormtroopers, the branding iron to outcast "outsiders," "fat pigs" and "abortion" receivers paints a dark, totalitarian outlook if Trump is elected.

What do you want your world to look like?
What do you want it to be?
Do you know that a wall has two sides?
And nobody is free?
Did your mama come from Mexico
Papa come from Palestine
Sneaking all through Syria
Crossing all the border lines

Let other people in
Listen to your women
Stop killing black children
Make America Great Again

Published with the hashtags #PussyGrabsBack and #NastyWoman it appeals to all women, "because YOU decide elections and if we get together, we could blow this shit up, take action and reverse this erosion of rights. Because fuck it." 

In an oral opinion interview with the New York Times, Nadya reiterated that her place is in Russia, that she's obsessed with the Russian language and culture and will continue her fight for a more gender equal homeland. But that what she sees in her homeland, the oppression by Putin does not have to be repeated in the USA. Asked about the word pussy, as in the name of the collective as well as on Trump's now infamous tape, she said:

"You should treat pussy with love, not the way Donald Trump does it."

The triptych approach of Nadya's video releases this week works, even so released with the help of mass media. "Make America Great Again" should only be seen and commented on in it's trinity with the other videos "Organs" and "Straight Outta Vagina." The damnation of Putin, the rise of feminism and fight for gender-equality and therefore the negation of Donald Trump as a candidate for president is the whole storyline for a gentler world tomorrow, based on the true power women have. It also announces the beginning of the end of the patriarchy.

Sources: YouTube, Shorefire Media Press Release (all pictures), NY Times Oral Opinion Interview (10/28), Rolling Stone

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Moby - Lost In The World

An angry electronica artist Moby is back and just released his 14th studio album "These Systems Are Failing" on the 14th and is now doubling down with another (4th) single "Are You Lost In The World Like Me" from the LP. Even though still recording mostly by himself and only using the "choir" on two tracks, he calls his entity in reference to D.H. Lawrence, Moby & the Void Pacific Choir and names the new album a debut.

The outspoken environmentalist, vegan offers a eulogy to the present and paints a dark picture to the future, about our society, the way we are living and how we are abusing creation.

"These systems were supposed to protect us, to free us, but instead they've poisoned our air, killed the animals, butchered the land - and destroyed ourselves. We think we’ve conquered the problems of food production and wealth distribution, yet we’re more miserable than ever."
(from his YouTube manifesto for the release of "These Systems Are Failing.")

The album title is a recurring theme in his current single, "Are You Lost In The World Like Me?" which with its catchy chorus tries to unite all the lost souls out there, the ones who see that all "the systems are failing." A potent song of reflection and outcry especially considering the state of the election cycle this year in the USA.

Animation artist, London-based Steve Cutts, who like Moby condemns the excesses of our societies - watch his animation  "Man" - made a new, absolutely powerful animated video for "Are You Lost In The World Like Me?" Known for his colorful cartoons, he took a black and white approach, inspired by the early animation of the depression era, including to Max Fleischer's "Betty Boop" (even so blond and big chested), a bit "Metropolis" by Fritz Lang and some Robert Crumb and painted an utopian nightmare, where every human interaction is forbidden by fine and only allowed via smartphone.

Besides touching themes like bullying, over excessive police force, an overloaded penal system and our way of meat consumption, it also depicts smartphone software that "photoshops" your selfies to a better you, takes potshots at Tinder (App) and YouTube's Schadenfreude (Fail) section or our fascination with Kim Kardashian's lower back.
Grimmer is the "phone video taping" of a suizid and no one tries to stop it and this leads to the tragic end, where the metaphor of the lemming "suicide" is used. Oblivious people staring at their smartphones simply walk off the cliff.

★★★★(★)/★★★★★ (4½/5)

Magnificent video with tons of little details and references. I hope this video will still have some virality to be entered for the Grammy Awards in February of 2018. It just came in a tad late, for the 2017 Grammys. Yes it is that good and that unique. In two days it already accrued over 1.1 Million views and made me a Steve Cutts fan.

By the way, next Sunday, October 23 Moby will be headlining his own vegan charity event, Circle V at the Fonda Teatre in Los Angeles benefitting animal rights organisation "Mercy For Animals." It will be Moby's only live performance this year.

Sources: YouTube, circlev.com

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"That'll Be Day" - Buddy Holly Would Have Been 80 Today

Isn't it amazing that in a just 18 month long "career," Lubbock's most famous son, changed the future of rock'n'roll, music, well even how a band performs in general. His vast influence on everybody from The Beatles and Rolling Stones to the later emergence of Punk is well documented.

Two decades ago my former PD Jürg Hofer and I ventured to Lubbock to interview Buddy's brother Larry Holley (correct spelling of the last name). We met Larry at the second coming of the Hi-D-Ho, a reincarnation of the original downtown grill, where Buddy played to the people of Lubbock from the roof of the building. The original was also the place where Peggy Sue Gerron would hang around and listen to the "new" music. It was at the end of a cruisin' loop where the youth met and mingled and where Rock'n'Roll was tolerated. Later that day, we visited Larry at his home, where he showed us family pictures and some of Buddy's memorabilia. He also showered us with family recordings, including songs by his daughter (Buddy's niece) Sherry, who among other compositions recorded several odes to the old stomping grounds, like "Don't Say Hello, Say Hi-D-Ho."

Nashville had issued (Feb 1996) a somehow ill-made tribute "NOT FADE AWAY" to Holly for his 60th birthday with TV special and everything. But Nashville still didn't understood Holly 40 years after he started out in that town and left disgusted. They wouldn't even let him play his own guitar on his own recordings. So he went to Clovis, New Mexico and to New York to record. It was the typical riding the bandwagon scenario, there were a couple of decent tracks on that tribute, Waylon Jennings pairing with Mark Knopfler on a unfinished song fragment of Holly - "Learning The Game", the son of Bob (producer, friend and former duo partner with Buddy) Kevin Montgomery, who teamed up with Mary Chapin Carpenter to do "Wishing." Texas stand-outs Joe Ely and Todd Snider teamed up for quite a raunchy version and true the spirit of Buddy of "Oh Boy!."

But most of that record was dominated by big names and not enough energy recordings. It sounded like the put a governor on the bands while they were in the studio and therefore completely missing Buddy Holly's point.

Peggy Sue Gerron, who finished high school in California, but came back to Lubbock to be and even marry Cricket member Jerry Allison, got immortalized in one of the first world wide hits. Peggy Sue - upto this day - keeps a website, still soothing in her 15 minutes of fame.

Sources: YouTube,, personal recollections

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The !!!! Beat - Goes On

Austin journalist Michael Corcoran recently had a cool facebook post which sent me looking for a rather obscure TV show from 1966 that played a lot of Rhythm'n'Blues, Blues & Soul called "The !!!! Beat." Trying to find some footage of Freddie King to celebrate his birthday on September 3, he stumbled upon the series - but read for yourself:

Watching several shows on youTube I was hooked and watched all shows that were available, some wouldn't play, as they were taken down due to obvious copyright infringement. But bits and pieces, even single clips with some of the performances of the 26 episodes can be found all over the internet. Spending some time with Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown in 1980 in Bern, Switzerland, he was always a favorite of mine, glad to see him being the leader of the backing band, The Beat Boys, which also included saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman.

Through Dallas journalist Robert Wilonsky and his piece in the Dallas Observer, I later found that Dallas was chosen as a production hub, because Nashville at that point in time didn't had any color TV station / production yet. After the show disappeared, the tapes were thought lost, but as to Wilonsky, rumor has it that they were bought at one time by Willie Nelson:

... for decades the show was thought to be lost -- till, that is, Willie Nelson began going through and selling off his personal belongings when he had the taxman breathing down his neck in the early '90s. Rumor is, the entire collection was in his possession.

Bill "Hoss" Allen, originally a radio DJ out of the Tennessee area was one of the first DJs to spin black music on the radio, according to some sources as early as in the mid 1940s. Unfortunately the show didn't last but a year, and the story has it, that "Hoss" didn't take the end to lightly:

Allen hosted all but the final episode: Legend has it he was so distraught over its cancellation he fell into a bottle and couldn't make it to say farewell. Which is why Otis Redding is seen below hosting an episode -- the final one, which appears to have been shot in October '66. Yes, Otis Redding hosted a show taped at WFAA.

I also found out that prestigious German re-issue label Bear Family bought the whole series and released a 6-DVD set for the greater public in 2005 with extensive liner notes in the booklets accompanying the sets. A search revealed that the discs are currently on sale (and much cheaper than at amazon). Well, the whole set is now in my Christmas wishlist.

Sources: Michael Corcoran,, youTube, Robert Wilonsky,

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ryan Bingham - Live From Texas

Screenshot - Ryan Bingham performing live at Whitewater Amphitheater 

By accident I stumbled upon a tidbit that Ryan Bingham's concert at the Whitewater Amphitheater outside of New Braunfels will be streamed live (yesterday 8/6/16). It was too late to blog it in advance, but to my delight, the stream is still available and the whole concert can still be enjoyed n its full length.

Not familiar with the gaming platform Twitch, I first was wondering why amazonmusic would choose an outlet like this. But the almost two hour concert is wonderful, portraying the Americana artist in its best light and well worth tuning into Twitch.

The Oscar, Gloden Globe & Grammy winner, who came to prominence with his co-write of "The Weary Kind" with T-Bone Burnett for the 2009 movie "Crazy Heart" (it also won Jeff Bridges an Oscar as best actor) is currently touring behind his 5th studio album "FEAR AND SATURDAY NIGHT" which was released in January of last year. This does not include two non-major albums Bingham released early in his career in 2002 "WISHBONE SALOON" and 2006 "DEAD HORSES."

Besides his hits Ryan also included covers by Townes Van Zandt "Pancho & Lefty," Guy Clark "Dublin Blues" and Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried." It was really nice to see, Bingham including two songs of the recently departed Clark and Haggard in front of this enthusiastic crowd. Playing in front of a solid rhythm section, Nate Barnes (drs) and Shawn Davis (bs) with guitarists Daniel Sproul and Jedd Hughes, latter also on mandolin, setting the accents of the show. And yes it is good to see my old pal Richard Bowden still playing all these hot fiddle licks.

Unfortunately I don't know how long amazonmusic or twitch will keep this nice concert video up, so I guess watch it as long as it is hot. If you read this later, and the video shouldn't be playing anymore, please leave me a comment. And I guess thanks to amazonmusic to stream this concert - visit them and buy some Ryan Bingham music.

Watch live video from amazonmusic on

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Damn Quails Don't Fly Anymore

Gabe Marshall and Bryon White from the Damn Quails start looking into different directions.

In a surprise move, their performing calendar is stacked throughout the whole summer, including a headlining slot at the Woody (Guthrie) folk festival on July 14th, the Oklahoma Red Dirt singer/songwriting duo plus their current band members - Harmonica player Adam Rittenberry, Drummer Walton McMurry and original bassist Dillon Sampson - stalled in flight and call it quits. Gabriel and Byron announced their decision on the Quails facebook page on Sunday morning (6/18/16) out of the blue and stunned critics and their "Convey" of fans alike.

Nested out of a jam session, where different musicians would sit in and join Gabe and Bryon, the duo took to flight with their 2011 release "Down the Hatch" (produced by Mike McClure and Joe Hardy) and found an immediate connection to fans and critics. Three singles of their debut album, "Fool's Gold," "So So Long" and "Me and the Whiskey" got radio airplay and TV time on Asleep At The Wheel frontman Ray Benson's "The Texas Music Scene." (See two video's of the TV music series featuring the "birds" below.)

But as soon as the band took flight, there were legal issues with their management company and record label. Unsolvable lawsuits were filed and the band had to fight to even keep the rights of their own name, music, likeness. Basically everything associated with The Damn Quails was in question. Not giving up and taking off every night with engaging live shows, this was the only way the band was able to survive for the next two years, till the lawsuit was finally settled and the band was given the ownership of the name.

Broke and without a record label, the band turned to their flock or "Convey" as they called it and started a Kickstarter Campaign January a year ago. They raised according to their website, where a lot of information is coming from, almost $55'000 dollars to record a new record and take to flight again.
Reckless Kelly guitarist David Abeyta was enlisted to be the producer of what became "Out Of The Birdcage" which was recorded at 12th Street Sound in Austin, Texas and released in September of last year on their own "Swamp Fyst Records" label.

Fool's Gold - Texas Music Scene

A request to the Quail's publicist about the breakup was not immediately returned. All of Gabe Marshall's social media accounts are closed down. Hundreds of fans have by now commented on the split up, most of them surprised and dumbfounded. Well, I guess all we can say is - "So, So Long" and all the best to Gabe and Byron and their current band members for whatever endeavors they will tackle next. For more of their music, look below the video to "So, so long" and visit the band's soundcloud account.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

He Ain't Going Nowhere - Guy Clark's Just Leaving

Texas singer/songwriter legend Guy Clark passed away today, he was 74 and was in ill health for some of the last years. 

I will not even try to attempt to write an obit on this master of words, there are only a few in this world, who have (had) that craft of writing. Hank Williams comes to mind, a big influence for Guy, whom he celebrated in his composition "Hank Williams Said It Best," his old friend the late Townes Van Zandt as well as John Prine and Leonard Cohen. 

The only thing I would love to share here, are a couple of personal memories. An after hours night of pickin' and grinnin' at the Singer/Songwriter Festival in Frutigen in 1989. After a great night of fabulous live performances, we (a radio friend of mine, the promoter's daughter, Billy Joe Shafer and his son Eddy as well as Johnny Rodriguez) all landed in one of the hotel rooms. Being in a mountain valley, "far" from any major city we weren't able to score any party accessories, so we had to pass the night by listening to songs, which was as a natural high as they seldom come. 

Fast forward several years to 1997 - attending Jack Ingram's record release party for "Livin' Or Dyin'" for Rising Tide Records (by then an MCA imprint) at Iron Works Barbecue in Austin during SXSW -Guy Clark was attending, because Ingram had covered "Rita Ballou" for his third studio album. Enjoying the lovely spring sun, my ex-wife and I joined by Guy were standing outside, smoking. At one point we were all considering to go inside to rub elbows with some of the producers, label-head Tony Brown and other people being present, but Guy insisting to just have another smoke. In the end all of the label royalty showed up on the terrace to say hello and pay homage to Clark. After some pleasantries, they all went back inside, while we kept smoking, laughing and exchanging old stories.  

You may wonder what that old defunct motel sign is doing here, two years ago on a working trip I actually visited Guy Clark's hometown Monahans in West Texas. The Sunset Motel has definitely seen better days and even though the town was booming, there was not a room to be found, because of the oil price surge, it had a forlorn feel to it. 

As the quintessential Texas tune smith, there are several obits out there worth reading - the main one in my honest opinion "He Ain't Going Nowhere," published by Texas Monthly magazine four years ago. It's an intimate read, perfectly showing Guy's personality. Rolling Stone magazine offers: Guy Clark: 12 Essential Songs, which is worth visiting as well. 

Two of my favorite Guy Clark songs need to be added here, as a European transplant in Texas an ode to the culinary values of the Lonestar State, "Texas Cooking" and a song Guy wrote with his late wife Susanna and another Texas master poet, with Richard Dobson, "Old Friends"

Texas Cooking

Old Friends

Emilio Navaira - "Garth Brooks" of Tejano - Passes

According to news reports, a massive heart attack - an autopsy was ordered - ended the live of Tejano singer Emilio Navaira. The 2003 Grammy winner for "Acuerdate" as "Tejano Album of the Year" was 53 years old and lived in New Braunfels, Texas. If murdered Selena was the Queen, Emilio was the undisputed king of Tejano, an amalgam of Texas and Hispanic music. His popularity was so huge, that he often got nicknamed the "Garth Brooks" of Tejano.

Born and raised in Southern San Antonio, he not only grew up with the typical Mexican-American background listening to Little Joe & La Familia or Mexican crooner Ramon Ayala, he also listened to Texas country music greats: Bob Wills, Willie Nelson and George Strait. After high school in San Antonio, he got a musical degree at Southwest Texas University in San Marcos (now Texas State) and in 1983 he joined "Los Musicales" and started singing with David Lee Garza.

By the end of the 80s, Navaira formed his own band Rio, got a major record deal, where he recorded more than a dozen albums under his full name and then from the mid-90's simply by his first name Emilio. One of his songs "Como Le Hare" (How Will I Do It) became so popular, even though it never charted as a single, that the title is now used as a catch phrase in Texas. His albums regularly started to show up in the US Latin (album) and his singles in the US Hot Latin (singles) charts.

His popularity was so big, that he started to get sponsored by Wrangler Jeans, Coca Cola & Miller Beer and was signed to Capitol Nashville, adroitly naming his first album "Life Is Good" after the beer slogan. A Larry Boone/Paul Nelson/Earl Clark penned ballad, "It's Not The End Of The World" got recorded in English and Spanish and charted in the top twenty of both the US Country and Hot Latin charts respectively.

His voice and distinctive style also convinced the prestigious "Country Night Gstaad" festival in Switzerland to have him perform there among other headliners, Billy Ray Cyrus, Kathy Mattea and Paul Brand, in 1997. So before his trip to Switzerland I had a chance to interview him at Austin's (now long gone Aqua Fest). The energy coming from that stage put the largely Tejano audience on fire, this was their king and he was celebrated that night with people hanging on Emilio's lips and singing with him during the whole set.

After two country inspired albums for Capitol and changing times in Nashville, Emilio went back to the Tejano market, but still including Spanish tracks, that could have been sung by country great George Strait. His mixture from love ballads to modern Tejano, from traditional Rancheras (story songs) to dance-able Cumbias, established him as one of the most diverse artists in the Texas music scene.

In March of 2008 Emilio almost lost his life, after having a tour bus accident in Bellaire outside of Houston. He was ejected through the windshield of the bus after he collided with traffic barrels. He was later being charged with "intoxication" and not having a license to drive the bus. Miraculously he had an impressive recovery after severe cranial damage and brain injuries and was able to come back onto the stage two years later.

With "El Regreso del Rey" (Return of the King) he released a fulminante Live-Album as a comeback. Even though not on major labels anymore, Emilio continued to release albums. Last year's "Juntos" and a biggest hit album "Siempre Grande" this year were released by Mexican imprint Apodaca. He also continued to tour in South Texas and Mexico, now with his own kids in his band Rio, his brother Raulito formed his own band "Remdio" with his kids, Destiny and Rigo.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Radiohead's Ninth, "A Moon Shaped Pool," Drops

Radiohead dropped their ninth album "A Moon Shaped Pool" on Sunday evening (5/8/16) only as digital downloads on iTunes ($ 10.99), Amazon ($ 9.49) and streaming services Apple Music and Tidal, as well as their own e-commerce site, named after the album title. ($ 13 as well as in a special edition package $ 86.50) Physical copies (CDs $ 14.50 & LPs $ 29) won't be available till June, 17th.

According to British newspaper The Guardian, a download was also available from Google Play for a short while, but was then removed from the platform. The 11-song, alphabetically sequenced album, their first since 2011's "The King Of Limbs" was announced 2 days ago, when Radiohead released the second video of their new album, "Daydreaming" directed by PT Anderson. After their last release, the band took a break, either with solo releases "Tomorrow's Modern Boxes" (Thom Yorke) and "Weatherhouse" (Phil Selway) while guitarist Jonny Greenwood worked on several movie projects. Yorke and Nigel Goodrick also released an album under their side moniker "Atoms For Peace."

In April, the band erased its Internet presence with "Dead Air Space," sent embossed cards out containing the lyrics to "Burn The Witch" and released this, the opener 5 days ago as an animated video on YouTube. The first video garnered more than 10 million views in less than a week.

The song list
1. Burn The Witch
2. Daydreaming
3. Decks Dark
4. Desert Island Disk
5. Ful Stop
6. Glass Eyes
7. Identikit
8. The Numbers
9. Present Tense
10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
11. True Love Waits

Burn The Witch


Sources: The Guardian, Radiohead,, itunes, Amazon

Saturday, May 7, 2016

From A Jack To A King - Ned Miller Passes

"I'll get an idea for a song," Ned Miller is quoted on his 1991 Bear Family retrospective, named after his biggest hit "From A Jack To A King" and it goes on "but then I think, 'Who wants to go through the hassle of getting someone to record it.' These days I have nothing to do with recording. My kids have nothing to do with the business. If you love shows and like to perform, it's a great business, but if you don't, you shouldn't be in it."

This pretty much sums up the short career of roughly 13 years. He then put his guitar up, quit writing songs and stopped performing. Henry Ned Miller, born in the mining town of Rains, Utah on April 12 in 1925 passed away on March, 18 in Medford, Oregon. His death which wasn't announced until this week, was confirmed by his wife of over 70 years, Sue to the New York Times.

According to liner notes, he bought his first guitar when he was nine, after splitting and selling wood. His mom taught him how to play, and he wrote his first song while still in High School in Salt Lake City. After a three year stint in the Marine Corps - he served in the Pacific theater during World War II - he went to college with the help of the G.I. Bill and became a pipe-fitter and later air-conditioning man by trade.

In July of 1956, Ned decided to try his wings in the music field and went to California where he met Fabor Robison of the Abbott, Fabor and Radio Record Companies who had discovered, developed and guided the early careers and first hits of such artists as Jim Reeves (who would later record several of Ned songs), Johnny Horton, Bonnie Guitar, The Browns and many others. Fabor saw the potential in Ned's abilities to write and sing and signed him to the label.

From the liner notes of Fabor's "From A Jack To A King" album: "The inspiration for "Dark Moon" came while Ned was driving along the Malibu, California beach one evening. Being a little depressed, he mentally drew a veil across the bright, full moon and immediately wrote the song "Dark Moon."

Dark Moon - Bonnie Guitar

Bonnie Guitar recorded the song for Fabor and even - according to an article in No Depression magazine - gave up her royalties: "I knew in my mind, as little as I knew, that that was a hit song. I just knew it. So, we went right in the studio and started working on it, and I played the lead guitar and everything."
Bonnie Guitar wasn't the only one who took the song into the US Billboard Top 100 (#6), shortly after her version peaked, Gale Storm took the song into the Top Five (#4). Guitar also charted in the Country Charts (#14) - at the same time another version of the song was also recorded by Hawkshaw Hawkins.

Bonnie returned the same year with "Mr. Fire Eyes" a song the two of them had written together. Other people started recording Ned's songs, but when he released "Roll O Rollin' Stone," in 1957 he didn't crack the charts, neither did he with the first time release of "From A Jack To A King" the same year. "Lights In The Street", "Gypsy" (1958) as well as the early Sixties songs "Cold Gray Bars" and his version of "Dark Moon" all failed to make a great impact.
No luck also with two songs, he recorded with Jan Howard for Jackpot "Girl From The Second World / Ring The Bell For Johnny," even though the songs got a favorable review in Billboard magazine.

On it's second go-round in '63, "From A Jack To A King" not only became his biggest hit and signature song, but made him a world wide star. The song crossed over onto the top of the pop charts of Norway, Sweden, South Africa, Ireland just to name a few, became a #2 in the US Billboard Hot Country Singles and also made the Top Ten in the Top 100 (#6). He was featured in March of '63 with a small bio in Billboard magazine, several artists recorded their own versions of the song, where love lifts a man from being a Jack to being the King, though among others by ElvisSlim Whitman and a quite a bluesy version by Jerry Lew Lewis as well as by a British glam rock quartet, past it's prime named Mud (watch at your own discretion.) Twenty five years later, Ricky Van Shelton recorded a remake on his second platinum selling album "Loving Proof" and took the song all the way to Number One, enabling Ned with a nice royalty retirement check. It's actually fun to watch this live recording of Shelton's version among some of the greats of country music.

Ned needed a big follow-up, and after a couple of duds came up with a song he'd written with his wife Sue, Invisible Tears. The married couple actually worked together on several of his songs, for instance "Behind The Tear," wich Sonny James took to the top of the country charts for three weeks in 1965. Miller came out the same year - now on Capitol Records with a song based on a saying he'd picked up from his father, "Do What You Do Do Well." It became his second biggest hit, reaching #7 on the country charts and #52 on the pop listings in 1965.

Do What You Do Do Well - Ned Miller

Behind The Tear - Sonny James

The crooner charted four more times albeit in the lower regions of the chart, with his sweet melancholy songs: "Whistle Walkin'" (#28),"Summer Roses" (#39), "Teardrop Lane" (#44) and "Hobo" (#53). Due to stage-fright and therefore not touring behind his songs, he got dropped by Capitol. On different labels he charted in 1968 with "Only a Fool" (#61) and two years later with "Lover's Song" (#39) and then he called it quits. Several of his songs, he has a catalog of almost 200 songs, were recorded by a big variety of stars and some even translated into other languages.

Next Time I Fall In Love, I Won't - Hank Thompson

Invisible Tears - Bobby Bare & Skeeter Davis

Some of his original Fabor and Capitol albums can still be found and there are several compilation albums (CDs) out there, but if you would like the comprehensive music history of Ned Miller, I would suggest to buy the German Bear Family album released in 1991, even though e.g. his Jackpot singles are missing, it's the most comprehensive collection with a rich 16-page booklet that can be found.

Sources: Bear Family CD "From A Jack To A King", Liner Notes of his UK release on London "From A Jack To A King", News Services, No Depression, Billboard, YouTube

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Kenny Chesney's "Noise" debuts in Rolling Stone

Kenny Chesney - Live                                 © Jill Turnell (courtesy EBMedia)
For once it's not pina coladas, sandy beaches and cladly dressed dancer babes in bikinis. It's neither a jocose
singer reminiscing about the quietude at a lovely hidden oasis where he shares a longneck with his honey on the back of a pickup truck while strummin' on his guitar.

In his new video "Noise," the lead-off single of his new album "Some Town Somewhere" which ships July 8th, Kenny Chesney actually inculpates all the white noise, the cacophony, the constant sound bytes, the tech overload around us.

Wrecking balls, downtown construction
Bottles breaking, jukebox buzzing
Cardboard sign says ‘The Lord Is Coming’
Tick tick tock
Rumors turn the mills back home
Parking lot kids with the speakers blown
We didn’t turn it on
but we can’t turn it off, off, off …”

While this topic is quite popular in pop and rock music, it's rather rare in country music to sing songs being critical of society or at least critical of part of society. "Atomic Power" by the Louvin Brothers, "Okie From Muskogee" by Merle Haggard come to mind. In order to convey this new message to an audience who would listen, Chesney's team didn't select the regular outlets like CMT, Vevo or a country music magazine, but choose to premiere his chaotic video.

“They have been the cultural and societal touchstone since I was a kid,” Chesney explains in his press release, why he choose the music magazine as an outlet “and that gives them the gravitas to reflect what [director] Shaun [Silva] and I were trying to capture in the song. This is not political, so much as social... if you want to get people to take it all in, to step back and really reflect, let’s put the video at the heart of where people who sort those things are.”

The visual manifestation of the song is clear: distorted images changing in a fast cut, timely mentioning in passing, not only the current US election cycle, but also the daily overload of sound or video bytes that is thrown at us, basically a wall of noise imprisoning us. And even though everybody seems to communicate, there are no messages reaching the listener:

Twenty-four hour television,
get so loud that no one listens
Sex and money and politicians talk, talk, talk
But there really ain't no conversation
Ain't nothing left to the imagination
Trapped in our phones and we can't make it stop, stop, stop

Watch Kenny Chesney's Chaotic 'Noise' Video

As Rolling Stone knows: "Kenny Chesney already had the first single from his upcoming "Some Town Somewhere" album picked out when a bunch of talking - make that, yelling - heads on television threw a curveball..."

He was on the phone with Nashville tunesmith Shane McAnally on a way to a marketing meeting with his manager, when the idea of "Noise" came up. Two days later he went into the studio and recorded the song, which besides McAnally was written by Ross Copperman and Jon Nite.

But Chesney doesn't see himself as a messenger, as he told "We're not preaching to anyone, we’re just making a statement about the way we live. The message is to try to be mindful of it. If you love someone, tell them you love them. Don’t text it to them! There is so much life to be lived outside our phones.”

Summary: A great move for the fluffy 8-time entertainer of the year, away from "Bro" country to an actual meaningful song. The other songs on "Some Town Somewhere" will have to prove the new thoughtfulness of Kenny Chesney. An ethereal follow up will render "Noise" as meaning less.

Sources:, Essential Broadcast Media,

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Eric Church (Has A) Record Year - New Video

Screen Shot "Record Year" 

Eric Church debuted his new video "Record Year" today on CMT’s Hot 20 Countdown and it's up for viewing on Vevo, you'll find a link below.

The video and its song, filmed in an old abandoned schoolhouse in East Nashville, deals with a breakup and the consequent flight of the left one into listening to an old three foot stack of warm sounding vinyl records. Cleverly written by Church and his longtime banjo player and guitarist Jeff Hyde.

I bet you thought before you left
I'd just sit in silence by myself
Turn this house into a jail
Dyin' slow in a livin' hell
But love's got a funny way of keepin' score
And your leavin' lit up my scoreboard
I usually make it through side A sober
All bets are off when I flip her over
One bourbon, one scotch, one beer
I'm havin' a record year

"Record Year" Shoot - © Reid Long (used by permission)
The John Lee Hooker reference "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" - also known by a great version by George Thorogood - isn't the only name-dropping in the little epic, (George) Jones, (Waylon) Jennings are as well mentioned in the song as Hank (Williams) and Stevie Wonder's "Songs In The Key of Life." Willie Nelson lends comfort with "Red Headed Stranger", James Brown is mentioned and as a little great surprise the old quartet New Grass Revival, who started promoting progressive bluegrass in the early 80s. Even though it's uncertain if the vinyl session will help the hurt one to get over it or just inflect some more, this time physical pain by speakers being on ten, damaging his ears.

I'm either gonna get over you
Or I'm gonna blow out my ears
Yeah, you're out there now
Doin' God knows how, and I'm stuck here
Havin' a record year

Another "nice" reference, at least a great play on words, comes in the verse where he suggests that only a needle - not in his arm but on vinyl - can save him:

Your leavin' left me goin' crazy
I'm countin' on a needle to save me
I drop it in the groove
And we go 'round and 'round
And down in a spiral

Eric also debuts his new Signature Gibson Guitar, Hummingbird Dark in the video.
To use the records to line up on an un-used weight lifting bench as a 3-D audio waveform reflecting the sonic intensity of the song is absolute clever (see picture on top of the blog) and Church's manager John Peets and video maker Reid Long, who directed "Record Year" deserves some great praise. Maybe the trio, Church, Peats and Reid can double down on winning video of the year, as they did with the ACM video of the year for the title track of Church's new album "Mr. Misunderstood."

Summary: Great song, outstanding video - musically a tad to contemporary for my taste, but still a favorite of country music videos released this year.

Record Year - Eric Church

Watch Record Year by Eric Church online at Discover the latest music videos by Eric Church on Vevo.

Sources: EBMedia, ACM

Friday, April 29, 2016

Happy Birthday Willie

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday, dear Willie...

glad to type that, and see that Willie is still going strong.

Some 30 years ago, Willie gave me, due to a gig at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, my first front-page story and picture in one of the biggest Sunday newspapers in Switzerland. A week earlier, I have been able to interview and shoot him at the legendary Wembley Arena in London, where he was part of a three-day country music festival over the Easter weekend. This and a personal favor while in Switzerland - not what you are thinking - I simply organized him a gym where he could go and work out without being bothered, led to a great friendship with his late tour manager Poodie Locke. After moving to Austin, I was able to go see Willie and "Trigger" whenever I wanted. So thanks for still being around, for still pickin' and grinnin'...

A couple of weeks ago, Loretta Lynn turned 84 and just had a brand new album "Full Circle" out. Hard to believe that both Willie and her with 50+ year careers, never recorded together before. The two octogenarians hit it off on the first take and duet beautifully on this album. Even though their collaboration "Lay Me Down" deals with mortality, it's amazing to see the "joie de vivre" in their performance. The video was shot at the Ryman Auditorium, the original Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Loretta Lynn & Willie Nelson

I actually don't know of any other artist in every music genre that has recorded more duet songs with such a variety of artists. From Toots & The Maytals and U2, beyond Bob Dylan and Matchbox20 to all the regular country "suspects" as well as from his first wife Shirley Collie, Norah Jones, Julio Iglesias, and Tony Bennett, just to name a few.
Less than a year ago, Willie and the late Merle Haggard had a number-one country music album with their duet album "Django & Jimmie," not only honoring Reinhardt and Rogers, but also the Man in Black "Missing Johnny Cash." Well "all the whiskey in Lynchburg, Tennessee just couldn't hit the spot, it's all going to pot..."

Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson

Celebrating some more herbal medicine, the original gangster and birthday boy together with Snoop Dog.

So celebrate like Willie would (will), today and while you are listening to the below concert, recorded on June, 7th, 2000 at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, come up in the comments with some duets Willie did that belong to your favorites.

Willie Nelson & Family Live in Amsterdam

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Strait Return To Stage Sold Out

© Ethan Miller - Getty Images - courtesy EBMedia
After a two year absence from the stage, the King of Country rode back in to town and a record-setting, sold-out crowd of 19'222 people came on April, 22nd to the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to see George Strait in his opening show of his "Strait To Vegas" concert series.

“I’ve missed you guys and I’m looking forward to being here a few more nights this year,” Strait told the crowd early on in the night before performing for over two hours, according to a press release by Essential Broadcast Media. Besides playing a selection of several of his #1 hits, Strait also took a moment to pay tribute to Merle Haggard who was not only an icon for Strait but also a friend. “We’ll never get to hear Merle play live again, but his music will live on forever,” Strait said before performing a medley.

YouTube user vegastrojan posted a decent quality video of George Strait doing the Merle Haggard Tribute during his concert.

Kacey Musgraves who opened for George this last weekend and will for his other 2016 dates, walked into the arena with a pony. (Picture from her Instagram feed @spaceykacey) - you may also want to check out her great version of the Lee Hazlewood penned cover "These Boots Are Made For Walking," orginally made famous by Nancy Sinatra  (look on her twitter feed +Kacey Musgraves.

Strait will be back at the arena in September (9 & 10) and December (2 & 3) of this year and has a weekend planned in February (17 & 18) of 2017. The brand new $ 375 million indoor arena opened this spring and will host a variety of events. Boxing and fighting matches will compete with entertainment events. The Billboard Music Awards, Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks are all scheduled to play T-Mobile Arena.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince - The Country Music Artist

I'm not trying to invoke that Prince who passed away yesterday was a country music artist at all, but his genius definitely left a mark even in country music. I remember in the mid to late 80s an editorial board meeting of our "Country Music" publication in Switzerland, when editor Charles "Chuck" Steiner claimed that Prince is annoying his band members by listening to country music on his tour bus. Chuck, who was quite old-school and had met Hank Williams on his European USO tour and still had a strong connection to the "old" Nashville of the 50s and 60s put that bold remark with a big smirk into the room and watched us whipper snappers in our 20s and 30s gasp for air. We couldn't believe it, the Purple One being associated with the rather strict musical environment that Nashville still was. He even mentioned that he wrote songs under a pseudonym for country artists.
It sounded like too much of a tall tale and with emerging artists like Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle and Randy Travis we never even investigated the "rumor" and enjoyed the re-emergence of a more traditional sound that started to flood the airwaves in 1986.

Some years later, I was already living in the States, somebody (my memory fails me here) told me about Joey Coco and a little research without google or the internet at the time revealed that this was really the Purple One, or TAFKAP by then, who wrote these songs. Kenny Rogers had recorded "You're My Love" for his 1986 album "They Don't Make Them Like They Used To", all in all a forgettable LP, if it wouldn't be for the title track, who won a Golden Globe. Deborah Allen tried to do the right thing, but her adaptation of the Coco song "Telepathy" of the album by the same name, pretty much burned her career and relegated her back into songwriting and background vocal singing. Rumor is that he not only wrote but also orchestrated and produced the song in 1987. That song and it's musical arrangement could have been a hit in the early 80s, but the flags were now definitely flying on the traditional breeze and made the whole a single a non-entity.

Some years later I booked and toured Europe with Buck Owens revival act The Derailers and the fathers of the Red Dirt Sound, The Red Dirt Rangers. Sharing more or less the same age within a decade or so with these musicians, we all grew up listening to Prince, so it wasn't really that surprising that "Raspberry Beret" found it's way on Tony and Brian's 1997 album "Reverb Deluxe" (Watermelon) and "1999" was featured by the Okies on their album "Ranger's Command" (SOB) two years later. Both albums were released on small Austin based labels and reflected the openness towards a more inclusive, innovative style Nashville had forgotten by then and turned it's back on, after the rise of megalomaniac Garth Brooks.

Thanks to David Mansfield, the former country music editor for "USA Today" I became aware today that one hit wonder "Just Got Started Loving You" (2007), James Otto actually recorded a decent rendition of "Purple Rain." Several rumors indicate that several people urged Prince to give that song to Kenny Rogers too, as it sounded like a "country music song." Whatever. Instead of playing the just released tribute by Otto, I actually found a live version by him doing this song, recorded almost three years ago, in a live performance at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield. And according to the belt-buckles being shined the people there didn't mind to hear the Purple One.

Neither did we growing up. Prince was an all-round musician and creative mind who left this planet way too early.

Kenny Rogers - You're My Love

Deborah Allen - Telepathy 1987

Red Dirt Rangers - 1999

Derailers - Raspberry Beret

James Otto - Live Crystal Palace, Bakersfield - Purple Rain - 8/21/14

Thursday, April 21, 2016

RIP Purple One - We will party like it's 1999 in a little while

As with other legends, there will be a ton of obituaries celebrating the creative workload and the life of Prince. For me it's somehow ironic that in the first four months of this year, we lost three legends, and I'd would rather use that terminology very strict. But what Bowie, Merle and Prince created can only be explained with the passing of Bach (1685 - 1750), Mozart (1756 - 1791) and Beethoven (1770 - 1827) in the time span of four months, instead of roughly 1 1/2 centuries.

This is how Billboard Magazine reported on their website

That's how the Recording Academy president Neil Portnow commented on the passing of Prince

The videos below show the true musical genius, that Prince was - first in his official video for his fantastic groovy song "Cream" and a full live concert from 1982

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sturgill Simpson & Stephen Colbert - Unofficial "Waffle House" Etiquette Song

It took me 25 years of living in the States to finally make it to a Waffle House on a recent trip (March) to Atlanta. I was simply ignorant and unaware, as there are only two in all of Central Texas and Mexican breakfast and/or Tacos are everywhere and cheap.

So on Monday night, country artist Sturgill Simpson, who just released "A Sailor's Guide to Earth" some days ago, visited the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert," to perform a raucous swamp-rock, including full horn-section version of "Brace For Impact (Live a Little)."

Yet before Simpson was able to literally blow us away, he was invited and asked by host Stephen Colbert to do a "commercial" for "Waffle House." As Stephen mentioned, "Waffle House" has it's own songs on its jukeboxes, well according to, "the all-day breakfast chain that has become a Southern institution, actually has its own music label, which has produced songs such as “There Are Raisins in My Toast” for its restaurants since the mid-’80s."
As the tables were almost turned over faster than we could eat, I was never able to check out their own jukeboxes and am simply wondering what would rhyme with sausage and hash-browns.
Stephen and Sturgill's take on the unofficial song is hilarious and quite right deals with a lot of good manners missing of the late night crowds I have seen in IHOPs and other early morning breakfast places. Yes it may as Sturgill sings "You're killin' your hangover, but you're killin' my mood."

Next time I'm gonna go to a Waffle House, I'm gonna search for the jukebox. Watch the two performances below and comeback here, I will review "A Sailor's Guide To Earth" in a couple of days.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ted Russell Kamp - Soaring In The Musical Skies

Ted Russell Kamp at Giddy Ups in Austin - March 2016        (© A. Michael Uhlmann)
Wikipedia defines Aerobatics as a portmanteau of aerial-acrobatics, simply the practice of flying maneuvers involving aircraft attitudes that are not used in normal flight. The loops, the spins, the rolls or the Immelmann turns are most often flown by a single pilot, therefore "Flying Solo."

This is also the title of LA based Americana singer/songwriter Ted Russell Kamp's new album, which he released in March. After an extensive tour through Texas, including the music fair, SXSW, he now introduces his new 12 song Epos to part of his European fans in Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Often touring by himself, he wanted to offer a solo album reflecting his dynamic shows when not accompanied by a band.
Half of the songs are favorites from previous albums, three of them recorded live during radio shows in the US, three from a concert in Finland. The other half dozen are new songs recorded at his home studio "The Den" especially for "Flying Solo."

The analogies of an acrobat pilot and a prolific singer/songwriter don't end here - pilots often have a solid flight education through military training, may be flight instructors, or develop new acrobatic routines with other pilots. This simply translates into the music world of TRK as a day job, not sitting at a desk, but playing bass for Shooter Jennings; recording and producing at his own studio for friends like AJ Hobbs, 29 Mules, Nate Smith or Funkyjenn among others; or co-writing with a variety of performers and songwriters from across the United States.

An original record release party right before the trip to Texas was held in California together with alt-country trio Calico, whose member Kirsten Proffit helped co-write the opener and one of the new tracks "Life On The River" where the watery stream symbolizes not only life but also the continuing love of the narrator to his sweetheart.

Other California country-rock or Americana co-writes include acoustic live version of "Let Love Do The Rest" (w/David Serby from "Poor Man's Paradise"), and a deliciously raucous electric guitar lead by Finnish Roots musician Tommi Viksten on "If I Had A Dollar" (w/Nicole Gordon from "Get Back To The Land") keeping it very close to it's original Bakersfield-sounding original and the new Bobby Joyner collaboration "The Closer I Get" with it's beautiful melancholy lines "The closer I get / I will not forget / it's not over yet / it's a sadness deep in my soul / it's a tiger by the tail I know / the closer I get / it's not over yet."
Nashville based writers Wayne Buckner and Chris Tompkins helped on "The Way Love Burns" (new) and "Poor Man's Paradise" (from the same album) respectively.
Austin based Fastball member Tony Scalzo helped pen the new "Nothing To Lose" and Gordy Quist from the Band of Heathens contributed on the also new track "Hold On", which shines with its lovely Dobro instrumentation. Beautifully helped on background vocals by Bliss Bowen, "When She Flies" is a new composition by TRK himself, as are the live versions of his older self-penned favorites "Lookin' For Someone" (from "Divisadero"), "Steady At The Wheel" (from "NorthSouth") and "Old Folks Blues" ("Poor Man's Paradise"), the last two, superbly spare, just performed with a mandolin.

Labels won't categorize Ted Russell Kamp's music, there are too many nuances to hear, somewhere between Rock and Country, between West Coast and Tulsa, Soul & Blues influenced, even with some hints at jazzy percussive feels to it. You just have to go and discover TRK for yourself, I'm just he will soar with his songabatics!

Steady At The Wheel

Let Love Do The Rest

Below find his touring schedule, on all his Swedish shows, Ted Russell Kamp will be accompanied by Thomas Ponten. Besides finding his new release "Flying Solo" at his shows, the disc and/or download is also available on CD Baby and itunes. For more info on TRK, check out his website Ted Russell Kamp.

European Tour Dates

APR 20 WED - Kulturhaus Schlachthof, Soest (G)
APR 22 FRI - Carty Bar, Gaildorf (G)
APR 23 SAT - Pier 99, Nordhorn (G)
APR 24 SUN - Sijf, Rotterdam (NL)
APR 25 MON - KOFA, Vlaardingen (NL)
APR 26 TUE - Cultuurhuis, Heerlen (NL)
APR 27 WED - Paddy's, Leeuwarden (NL)
APR 28 THU - Autoprobaat, Tilburg (NL)
APR 29 FRI - Podium Peter en Leni, Steendam (NL)
APR 30 SAT - Zur Scharfen Ecke, Sande (G)
MAY 01 SUN - July's, Wilhelmshaven (G)
MAY 04 WED - KoM Bar, Göteborg (S)
MAY 05 THU - The Tea Room, Orsjo (S)
MAY 06 FRI - Kontoret, Uddevalla (S)
MAY 07 SAT - Kulturhuset, Jönköping (S)
MAY 08 SUN - Soulstore, Göteborg (S)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Marie Danielle - Hustling For The Truth

Purely by accident I stumbled upon and was immediately taken by the unique voice of this early 30-something year old singer/songwriter - originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - but headquartered on the West Coast in Los Angeles. Clever - although very somber - songwriting and a first German tour to celebrate the release of her debut album "Hustler" (Tonetoaster/Alive), which will be released by the end of February in parts of Europe, made me search for more and schedule a phone-interview with Ms. Stoudt, who simply goes by her two first names, Marie Danielle.

"Happy songs may not service you as an artist, well at least that was my case, 2-3 years ago," she tells me one morning, a couple of weeks ago. That "Hustler," who is already having an early pre-release buzz, and its songwriting compared to (among others) Lucinda Williams, would even see the light of day, is quite a surprise. Working in a cubicle in the video department of an international entertainment company to "mostly pay the bills", Marie had put her songwriting, after a stint in New York City, on hold and kept it in solitude and private. A brush with death in an abusive relationship, made her realize "that there is more to life, than a simple desk-job." She sent some of her demo recordings to one of her idols, Simone Felice, of The Felice Brothers, who called her back and invited her to come to Woodstock (NY) to record a debut, with him and David Baron (Grammy-nominated for Meghan Trainor) as producers. As a travel and recording partner she choose Christian Wargo (Fleet Foxes) just to keep her "sane" as she put it on her Kickstarter page. With enough funds raised, the two were able to cross the continent.

What was planned as a four to five song EP, became a full-fledged album. Under the aegis of Simone she started writing more songs, some as co-writes, but all very intricate and painfully personal. "I basically learned in a bit over a year, what could have taken me ten years in experience, to craft and write songs," she tells about the decision to continue past the limited size of an EP. Asked how she writes her little opuses, she adds: "It depends on the day, how I write. Sometimes it's a melody, some lyrics or even a concept. And I go from there." Originally having a punk/rock background, she cites some heavy singer/songwriter artists as her major influences and mentions Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash, John Prine and icon Townes Van Zandt. "No one comes even close to Townes." she muses about the late Texas troubadour, who penned "Pancho & Lefty," "To Live Is To Fly" and the haunting "If I Needed You." She also cites country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons and lauds his writing abilities, how he was ballsy enough to romanticize some of his more hardcore lyrics.

Bittersweet is her love affair not only with men "they don't seem to work out with me" but also with her current stay in LA: "this town and especially Hollywood are nothing but an illusion. It's dirty and the glamour is not real, even though you wish it to be real. So I'm trying to find the truth and what it is all about." A future move to either Nashville or Woodstock isn't out of the question, "in LA there are more people making music than listening to music."

So these maybe some of the reasons why she paints such desperate pictures in her emotive songs, as in the beautiful opening ballad - "There ain't no moonlight in this Tinseltown / and no more sunshine, now that you're not around / Since that day it's been cold and grey / I know you're gone but I'm a love you anyway."
"Soldier," a co-write with Simone Felice, could have been written by a post-world-war-2 author like Bertold Brecht if it wouldn't be for the fact, that the quarrels are only relationship based. Worn out and tired, she sees herself as an old fighter, unable to stop: "Where does the soldier go when all the warring's done / I've been fighting so long I forgot where I come from / but when that music plays I know where I belong." Even though full of desperation, the uptempo feel of the recording with the full The Felice Brothers band, still let a shimmer of hope shine through.
She's "hustling" for the truth again in "One Of My Kind" where she laments "I'm tired of running from town to town," and in "One Night Stand" begs for absolution from her partner after the encounter: "Forgive my radio silence and my one night stand."

Musically based somewhere between (Neo)-Folk, Pop and Americana the album invites for repeat listenings with it's sparse instrumentation. There may be a violin, a cello, an accordion or even a trumpet, but they never overpower her distinct and somehow sultry vocals, who lure you back over and over again. "I will never tell who he is," she insists after being asked who is the inspiration for the main character in the title song "Hustler" who "could sing a tune / To you alone in a crowded room." but then begging to not just be another name carved into the bar, like "all the suckers he's been through." And even with all the gloomy darkness, there are hints of redemption and hope in these songs, a light at the end of the tunnel shining so bright, that there must be a cathartic release. Asked if I forgot anything to ask in our lively interview, Marie Danielle insists to mention that she feels very honored to have been given to record "White Shoes" by Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame, which is the only cover on "Hustler."

So if you have a chance, go see her on her solo acoustic tour, all dates are listed below her videos. If her first visit to Europe will be a success, some basic language skills were learned and else she is relying on her smart phone as a translator, maybe she will change the gold leaf around her neck, with a small little world. Right now the leaf in the shape of the United States shows in the midrib her travels from Los Angeles to Woodstock, a journey we hope she will do again to follow "Hustler."


Soldier (featuring The Felice Brothers)

One Of My Kind

One Night Stand

German Tourdates
FEB 11 THU - Die Lagerhalle, Osnabrück, Germany
FEB 12 FRI - Artfarm, Drabenderhöhe, Germany
FEB 13 SAT - Cafe de Fiets, Bremerhaven, Germany
FEB 15 MON - Schick und Schön, Mainz, Germany
FEB 16 TUE - Prinz Willy, Kiel, Germany
FEB 17 WED - A, Berlin, Germany
FEB 18 THU - Die Rösslstube, Altstadt, Germany
FEB 20 SAT - House Show, Munich, Germany
FEB 21 SUN - Zwölfzehn, Stuttgart, Germany
FEB 23 TUE - Cocktailbar Kajüte, Lippstadt, Germany
FEB 24 WED - InForo Bistro, Brilon, Germany