Friday, July 28, 2017

Give Me Flowers - How A Bluegrass Song Became A Yodeling Tune - Gib Mir Blueme

Polo Hofer (l) and Hanery Amman (r) - Friends and Composers
On July 22nd, 72-year old Swiss Rockstar Polo Hofer passed away. Often credited as being the first (or one of the first) artists to use the Swiss-German dialect in Rock music, in his case the German of Bern or Bernese, he became larger than life, actually a national treasure.

A composition he co-wrote with his former neighbor, Hanery Amman called "Alperose" (Rose of the Alps) was voted to be the ultimate Swiss song and is now taught to grade school children more than three decades after its original release. His music simply became the bedrock of Swiss dialect music to come.
Polo, who used his boy scout name, whose real name was Urs Alfred, constantly reinvented himself, from his first commercially successful band Rumpelstilz to Schmetterding which was replaced by Schmetterband. Then the Alpinistos were in charge and finally, he recorded solo albums and guest artist projects. But what was always common through all the years was a huge love of music from the American South: Roots, Blues, Rock, Singer/Songwriters, Country - he especially loved the melting pot of what the Texas capital, Austin used to be and loved singers like Delbert McClinton and Lucinda Williams. Songs like Little Feat's "Missing You" (Paul Barrere) became "I Vermisse Di," Bruce Springsteen's "Jersey Girl," penned by Tom Waits got adapted into "Meitschi Vom Wissebueehl."

 So after his passing, friends were sending me obits, links to TV specials, and even to one of his films he starred in. Well, this morning I had "Gib Mir Blueme" in my Inbox, in a version where Polo sings it together with TV host and Schlager-Singer Nik Hartmann, while being accompanied by the Swiss TV orchestra, SF Husmusig recorded in Grindelwald in July of 2010.



The song and its theme sounded awfully familiar and sure enough, it's an old bluegrass or bluegrass-gospel composition "Give Me Flowers, While I'm Living," originally recorded by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs in 1957. Written by their wives, Gladys Stacey (Flatt) and Louise Certain (Scruggs) together with Elvin Bigger (known as a former member of the Four Virginians in the 1920s), Flatt & Scruggs recorded it for different albums, so I'm not completely sure, which version the one below is.

Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs


Knowing that Polo wasn't that much a bluegrass fan per se, I started wondering where he may have heard this song, there was a missing link. And sure enough, I found it, on the Amazing Rhythm Aces' fifth album "How the Hell Do You Spell Rhythum?" released in 1980.

Amazin' Rhythm Aces


Polo recorded his first version of "Gib Mir Blueme" for a live album that was released in 1993, and nine years later a studio version with Schmetterband for his album "Xangischxung" (Bernese for "Singing Is Healthy"). I assume that the resophonic guitar (dobro) part was played by my former English teacher Martin Diem on this recording.

Polo Hofer & Schmetterband


So let's forward from 2002, when Polo recorded his studio version, to the live TV show on top of the page, eight years later. Done in the TV show in Swiss Volksmusik style, even though not in its purest forms, Yodel club Wiesenberg from the state of Nidwalden, saw potential in the composition and recorded the tune acapella for their 2012 album "Bluämäpracht." The clip below shows the Jodlerklub Wiesenberg performing the song for another TV show.

And that's how a bluegrass song became a yodeling tune.

Mick Jagger Releases Two New Singles - Proves He Still Matters


Yesterday, he celebrated his 74th birthday, today (7/27) Mike Jagger released two brand new singles repressing the changing political landscape. He again demonstrated that as an "old" man, he can still tell the youngsters how to react and put to music, an engaging form of criticism and be viable not only to contemporary politics but also music. In the year since Brexit and the half-year since the Orange Agent sits in the White House, we should have experienced a bigger criticism from artists abroad and statewide.

In "England Lost!" he takes a football loss of the English national team, which during the whole song evolves from England lost to England's lost. In a great black and white video, featuring Welsh actor Luke Evans, who fears to be followed and starts on a bizarre, running escape through London, the countryside and at the end reaching the ocean to be pulled back by bystanders and told by a little girl to "Pull Yourself Together."

★★★/★★★★★ (3 out of 5)


Jagger also mentioned that he wanted to use UK Rapper Skepta for a version of his "England Lost!" single - he did so, in the lyric video, where he added the moniker "Reimagined" to it

Right from the off when I started writing England Lost, I imagined having a British rapper on the track .. Skepta stepped in at a moments notice and I just loved what he did.



In the email, he mentioned that he started these songs recently and had an urge to publish them, while they still matter

I started writing these two songs a few weeks back and wanted to get them out to you straight away.

While not as poignant in "England Lost!" in "Gotta Get A Grip" he re-emerges as a protest singer, actually pulling himself together. He's lamenting the clowns in government, the constant lies we are fed, the ignorance of the electorate, the shunning of intellectuals, greed, and xenophobia. Sir Mick paints a dark, but a too real picture of the current state of affairs and proves at 74 that he still matters! 

But read for yourself: 

Gotta get a grip
Beat it with a stick
Gotta get a grip
She goin' for the hit
THe world is upside down
Everybody lunatics and clowns
No one speaks the truth
And madhouse runs the town
Well you gotta get a grip
Beat it with a stick
You gotta get a grip

Everybody's stuffing their pockets
Everybody's on the take
The news is all fake
Let 'em eat chicken and let 'em eat steak
Let 'em eat shit, let 'em eat cake
You gotta get a grip
You gotta get a grip
You gotta keep it zipped
And shoot 'em from the hip
Yeah, yeah, you gotta get a grip
Beat it with a stick

I tried diversion and I tried coercion
Mediation and medication
LA culture and aquapuncture
Overeating and sex in meetings
Induced insanity, Christianity
Long walks and fast drives
And wild clubs and low dives
I pushed and I strived
But I can't get you, can't get you
Can't get you out of my mind
Gotta get a grip

Oh you, oh you
Oh you, beat it with a stick
Immigrants are pouring in
Refugees under your skin
Keep 'em under, keep 'em out
Intellectual, shut your mouth
Beat 'em with a stick
Oh you
Gotta get a grip
Gotta get a grip
Chaos crisis instability, ISIS
Lies and scandals, wars and vandals
Metadata scams and policy shams
Put 'em in a slammer
Gotta get a grip
Gotta get a grip
Come on

The song features a heavy, great guitar riff that helps transpond the dark message into an almost positive fighting song. We "Gotta Get A Grip" and fight the demons that are here.

★★★★(★)/★★★★★ (4 ½ out of 5)


Sources: Universal Music, Twitter, YouTube

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Evan Michaels - "Ain't No Stopping This" - EP Review


Not that there is anything wrong with "Ain't No Stopping This," it's a genuine six-song EP in the Texas/Red Dirt genre. But the EP, produced by Stillwater, OK singer/songwriter Evan Michaels and his keyboard player (Andrew) Bair, somehow isn't inciting enough to light a fire. Their current radio single "Bet On A Backroad," sounds too much like a Nashville Bro-Country song with all its cliches forefront and is currently bubbling right outside the Top 100 of the Texas Regional Radio Report and can't be found in the CDX Traction Texas Chart. This is songwriting lite, I normally don't expect from great Red Dirt music.

I bet it's on a backroad
In the middle of nowhere
We take the shortcuts
to get us there

I love the idea behind "Too Big For The Both Of Us" which stipulates that a relationship may only survive in a small town as it is predestined to fail in the big city. But the contemporary, almost Nashville-like arrangement kills the song. A nice change of rhythm, with a jingle-jangly feel, gives us the mid-tempo reflection of an ex-girlfriend; but "Like It Should" seems like it was copied out of Reckless Kelly's songbook.

The only outstanding track is the opener and title song "Ain't No Stopping This" with a great Chris-LeDoux feel to it. Even though knowing that an encounter is doomed from the beginning, there is nothing that can stop it from happening: Temptation is bigger than reason.

As to "Must Have Been Drinking" and "Tomorrow Today," there are some good approaches, but in the end, both songs fail to grab me. Most likely, even after multiple listens, because nothing new is offered. The arrangements sound like run-of-the-mill country-rock fare a 70s cover band would cover.

With just one song really grasping my attention it will be difficult for Evan Michaels to really stand out from an ever-increasing crowd of Red Dirt singer/songwriters and bands. There are some great ideas on this EP, but better songwriting and having his own sound are recommended. This six sampler still sounds as he would be trying to find his own self, lyrical-wise as well as musically - I miss an edge that sets Evan Michaels apart from the mediocrity that now seems to sweep through the Texas/Red Dirt scene.

As to Evan's voice, it's pleasant and strong enough to sing hits. Unfortunately, there are some blocks on the road, and his way to the top may take a little longer than he stipulated with "Ain't No Stopping This."

★★(★)/★★★★★ (2 ½ out of 5)


Sources: RPR Media, evanmichaaelsmusic.com

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blake Shelton Trashes Traditional Fans Again In New Video




Screenshot - William Lee Golden, Joe Bonsall, Blake Shelton, Duane Allen, Richard Sterban



Rather as a surprise comes a sixth single of Blake Shelton's 2016 album "IF I'M HONEST" and I guess to tone down the suggestive lyrics of "Doing It To Country Songs," its video is packed into an animated, family-friendly, cuddly, furry affair. Actually half-way country with rich harmonies and if it will chart, song partners, The Oak Ridge Boys will be back in the country single charts for the first time in 18 years. Laudable, isn't it? Well, it seems after a close watch of the cartoon, that there is a hidden message in the video-clip subsiding the fun.



Blake is not the first and probably not the last to use animation for a music video. Remember Lonestar's "Mr. Mom" or Brad Paisley's "Crushin' It" which actually featured an animated, beer-guzzlin' Shelton. In "Doin' It," the bar featured in the clip, named "Ol' Reds" as in the song and the venue Blake is gonna be opening in Nashville, a prominent beer advertisement disguised as a clock, promotes "Paisley Lite Beer." Nothing wrong with that.


Blake's video is full of easter eggs to be discovered. Besides leaving song titles on bar jars, on the wall, and guitar cases, even making a reference to his guests' big hit "Elvira," there are even some funny moments among the furries and one amphibian friend. That Blake casts himself as a stag, called Blake Buck on the marquee is quite humorous. The Oaks are cast as a possum, William Lee Golden; a beaver, Joe Bonsall; a wolf, Duane Allen, and Richard Sterban as a bullfrog, him catching the barfly and swallowing it, priceless.






Screenshot



I neither have an issue, that this rather light tune was written by heavy-weight Paul Overstreet together with Jakob Lyda and Marty Dodson. Sometimes a ditty is a ditty and the harmonies of the Oaks made me smile.

I also think choosing a hound-dog as the bartender and a skunk as the janitor are pretty funny, just think about it, "when it comes to clean, there is only one skunk."



But then Blake Shelton wouldn't be Blake Shelton if he couldn't land a side jab at every traditional country music fan that still wears a hat and a silver belt-buckle with pride. I guess by now that would be the "old farts and jackasses," you may see in every true Texas dancehall.



To make his point, he uses the janitor skunk to actually dress up. But to get his new accessories, the skunk is diving in the trash and rescues the hat and buckle out of the dumpster. As subliminal as it may be, shame on you, Blake!



★★/★★★★★ (2 out of 5)






Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tyminski Signs With Mercury // Dolly Up For An Emmy

Tyminiski signs with Mercury Nashville



Dan Tyminski is best known as a member of Union Station, Alison Krauss' band, as well as the singing voice for George Clooney's character "Man of Constant Sorrow" in the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" The link will take you to the 44th Grammy Awards Show in February 2002, where the Soggy Mountain Boys performed the song together with the late Ralph Standley. Well now, comes news, that Tyminski has signed with Mercury Nashville.



The 14 time Grammy winner is also known mostly to European listeners as the voice in Swedish producer Avicii's electronica-pop hit "Hey Brother."



An album "SOUTHERN GOTHIC" is planned to be released this fall, and for that endeavor, Dan will just be known by his last name, Tyminiski. According to newspaper "The Tennessean," he collaborated with Jesse Frasure (known for his work with Florida Georgia Line & Meghan Trainor) and the result is "marrying bluegrass instrumentation with the hefty rhythms and moody ambiance of modern pop."



After watching a teaser trailer, released on his new twitter account @tyminskimusic the project sounds more than intriguing.



Baptized in Southern Gothic, in the Garden of Good and Evil

The devil right here, who would have thought it

In a town full of god-fearing people.





Dolly Parton Movie Grabs Emmy Nomination



The made-for-television movie "Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle Of Love," which aired last November on NBC is nominated for an Emmy in the category "Television Movie," and will compete against “Black Mirror: San Junipero” (Netflix), “The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks” (HBO), “Sherlock: The Lying Detective (Masterpiece)” (PBS), “The Wizard Of Lies” (HBO).



The movie, a sequel to "Coat Of Many Colors" (after the Parton hit song), is also based on a true story, Dolly experienced when she was growing up in the mountains of Tennessee. Natural disasters and poverty try to harm the Christmas spirit of the Parton family. After some miracles, the movie transcends the message of close family and being home for Christmas. It also shows that Dolly by age nine is about ready to break out from the mountains of East Tennessee and conquer the world as an artist.



The movie also starred Dolly's sister Stella Parton and former Sugarland member Jennifer Nettles in her first and lauded role as an actress. While Dolly plays a local prostitute, The Painted Lady, in the movie, Alyvia Alyn Lind plays a young Dolly who befriends her. Nettles had the role of Dolly's mom, Avie Lee.



"I am so very proud and excited to have "Christmas of Many Colors" be nominated for an Emmy award," Dolly Parton said in a press release, announcing the nomination. She also thanked all her fans, who watched the Christmas movie.

In the clip below, Dolly explains why she made a sequel of the movie and why she wanted to have a cameo in it.









The winners will be announced during a show hosted by Steven Colbert on September, 17 on CBS.



Sources: tyminskimusic.com, tennessean.com, @tyminskimusic, webster PR, Variety, IMdb,

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Loretta Lynn Moves New Album To 2018 - Cancels Remaining Dates









"Coalminer's Daughter" Loretta Lynn, who suffered a stroke in May, was able to leave a rehabilitation facility and is now back home in Tennessee surrounded by her family.




“Thank you so much for all of your prayers, love, and support. I’m happy to say that I’m at home with my family and getting better by the day! My main focus now is making a full recovery so that I can get back to putting all of me into what I love, sharing my music with all of you."

she posted on her website.



Besides recovering and therefore canceling the remaining 2017 tour dates, the 85-year-old singer also postponed the release of her new album, "WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT" which was supposed to be released in August to some time next year.



"I now want to wait to release it next year because this record is so special for me. It deserves me at my best and I can’t wait to share it.  I want to thank everyone for hanging in there with me. I am getting stronger every day and can’t wait to get back out there with all of you."  



Produced by John Carter Cash and Loretta's daughter Patsy Lynn Russell, the album, like last year's Grammy-nominated album "FULL CIRCLE,"  offers a combination of new songs and re-recordings of some of her biggest hits, like "Coalminer's Daughter," "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (With Lovin' On Your Mind)." and a retake on "God Makes No Mistakes" from her 2004 album "Van Lear Rose." All of the songs, on the highly expected album, were either written or co-written by Lynn. Three of the new songs "Ruby's Stool," "The Big Man" and "I'm Dying for Someone to Live For" are collaborations with Shawn Camp, two "Ain't No Time To Go" and "These Ole Blues" were co-written with daughter Patsy. The song list for the new album also mentions an obscure song, Loretta co-wrote with Lola Jean Dillon, "Another Bridge To Burn." It may be a recording of a song, Loretta was talking about to Neil Strauss in a 1999 New York Times Interview but so far hasn't seen the light of day yet.



In her message on her website, Loretta also cracked a joke, about Willie Nelson still being around:



"I’m just letting everybody know that Willie ain’t dead yet and neither am I, and I can’t wait to see all of you on the road!”



She probably quipped the joke, as Nelson released "Still Not Dead" on his album "PROBLEM CHILD" earlier this year. But both octogenarians look at life and death intently and showcased that in a beautiful duet recording of Loretta's son-in-law Mark Marchetti penned-song "Lay Me Down" from "FULL CIRCLE."







According to family sources, she's getting stronger every day - we sure wish her a speedy recovery.



Sources: LorettaLynn.com, YouTube, MarkMarchetti.com, RollingStone.com,

Monday, July 10, 2017

Mary Sarah - Comfortable Alone - "Without You" - Single Review




© Katie Kauss - Used by permission

Most people may know Mary Sarah as a  semi-finalist (finishing fifth) from the TV talent show "The Voice" from 2016. But the 22-year-old Texan wasn't a newcomer to music for that show; she actually already was able to look back on a career spanning over a decade. After her TV experience last year, she now just released her first single, "Without You." 



To completely understand who Mary Sarah is, we have to roll back the tape of life. Starting in church and with vocal lessons when she was about nine, she started performing regularly on what is called the Texas Opry circuit, smaller Opry venues in more rural environments. When she was 12 she ventured west for a development deal and got signed by Kidz Bop and an ensuing 6 months tour across the United States. Back in Texas, the late great singer/songwriter and producer Freddy Powers took her "under his wings." Having been Merle's neighbor on a houseboat and frequent co-author, Powers penned Haggard classics like "Natural High" and "A Friend In California." Some of his musical influences are definitely part of "Without You."



When she was 15 she released her debut album "CRAZY GOOD" and three years later doubled down with "BRIDGES," a heartfelt collection of well-known songs, done as duets with the original singers of the hits. Yes, Powers may have helped with introductions, but it was her sheer talent, that made it possible for her to record duets with everybody from the late Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Lynn Anderson and Powers to still living legends like Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Ronnie Milsap, Vince Gill, Tanya Tucker and even Neil Sedaka.



Fast forward to #77seventeen, as her own hashtag proclaimed. As a gift to herself and to her fans, Mary Sarah released her first single "Without You" since "The Voice" on her birthday. Co-written with Gospel songwriter and producer David Garcia, Bart Butler (Jon Pardi's current single "Heartache On The Dancefloor") and former Dreamworks recording artist Mike Walker it easily bridges the old with the new.



Despite a low-profile, almost restraint jazz-bluesy arrangement (evoking Amy Winehouse) the prominent steel guitar sets traditional contra tones. The lyrics of the mid-tempo break-up song evolve from early hurt and tears to a resolute empowered woman, who is ready again to face the world and actually feels comfortable to be without her former partner. Written from experience, Mary Sarah was quoted:



“The beauty of the poetic words is that finding yourself through a broken relationship is a very empowering thing to do”. 



Her true delivery shows honesty and self-determination to move on. It's a remarkable effort and I know, Freddy Powers would be proud of his former "student." Now we just can wish that the powers that are in radioland share the song on their airwaves with a greater public so we all can enjoy the delights of that new single.



Lyrics:

You left a mark on my heart that I never thought would go away

I cried so hard in the dark I stained my pillow case

Mascara Black, wishin' you'd come back, but that was yesterday



But what a waste

Yeah I'd never thought I would, but baby I'm all good without you



I've got a move on, new song that I'm singing to

I've got a throwback, come back, step in my groove

I've got these going out paint the town red pair of shoes

You bet I do, jokes on you

No, you never thought I would, but baby I'm all good without you



Without you, I got room to breath

I'm finding who I am

I finally had time to see that you just ain't the man

That I thought you had seemed

You're just not all I cracked ya up to be

Yeah, I never thought I would, but baby I'm all good without you



I've got a move, on new song that I'm singing to

I've got a throwback, come back, step in my groove

I've got these going on, paint the town red pair of shoes

You bet I do, jokes on you

No, you never thought I would, but baby I'm all good without you



Yeah I never thought I would, but baby I'm all good without you



I've got a move on, new song that I'm singing to

I got a throwback, come back, step in my groove

I've got these going on, paint the town red pair of shoes

You bet I do

No, you never thought I would, but baby I'm all good without you



No, you never thought I would, but baby I'm all good without you



I'm good



***(*)/***** 3.5/5





Here's also a live version of the song, recorded on WSMV Channel 4 in Nashville







The track is now available at all digital outlets including iTunes and Google Music. Mary Sarah is managed by 144 Entertainment, PR by April Dickey -Bandwagon Publicity

Sources: marysarah.com, youTube, Spotify, Bandwagon Publicity,