A Sound Recommendation: Folkie Devin Tuel of Native Harrow

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Devin Tuel may consider herself to be an artist meant for a different time, but she now finds herself inhabiting her own true place. The singer-songwriter is at home in Upstate NY reflecting on her third album, Happier Now, released under her nom de plume, Native Harrow, as well as the difficult sojourn the former ballerina and classically trained singer has had to traverse to become the writer and performer she was meant to be. “This record is about becoming your own advocate. Realizing that maybe you are different in several or a myriad of ways and that that is okay. And further, it is about me becoming a grown woman,” Tuel says.

After nearly two decades of rigorous training in ballet, theatre, and voice, Tuel needed to break out of the oppressive rules of academia and find her natural voice, write from her heart, and figure out what kind of performer she truly was rather than the one she was being molded into from the age of 3. “I spent my early twenties playing every venue in Greenwich Village, recording demos in my friends kitchen, and making lattes. I felt very alive then. I was on my own living in my own little studio, staying up all night writing; the dream I had of being a bohemian New York City artist was unfolding. I wanted to be Patti Smith. I was also heartbroken, poor, and had no idea what I was getting myself into. My twenties, as I think it goes for most, were all about getting up, getting knocked down, and learning to keep going. I never gave up and I think if I told 20 year old me how things looked 9 years later she’d be so excited”.

PURCHASE HAPPIER NOW

Happier Now, is a set of nine songs recorded and mixed by Alex Hall (JD McPherson, The Cactus Blossoms, Pokey LaFarge) at Chicago’s Reliable Recorders. The album was co-produced by Hall, Tuel, and her bandmate, multi-instrumentalist Stephen Harms.

Native Harrow cuts out clear and vibrant narratives on fear, love, the open road, ill-fated relationships, and coping with the state of the world. “I wanted to share that I made it out of my own thunderstorm. I had experienced the high peaks and very low valleys of my twenties. I saw more of the world on my own, got through challenges, reveled in true moments of triumph… but all the while the world around me was growing louder, wilder, and scarier. Music for me is a place to be soft. This album was my place to feel it all.

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AngloFiles: London Based Singer Songwriter Charlie Cunningham

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Growing up in a small town in the periphery of London, guitar and piano were a big part of Charlie’s life.

The whole ability to write songs is probably in a lot more people than they think. A lot of people can probably do it; it’s just hard knowing how to start,’ he admits. “I think what slowed me down was just over-thinking every possible thing. So now I know that if something feels right to just trust that.”

After a few years gigging and finding his feet in Oxford he left for Seville and ended up staying for two years. It was here he explored the different attitudes towards the guitar, and developed a fresh technique that was a catalyst for his creativity. Taking the percussive qualities of flamenco, his playing became sharp enough to craft songs laden with delicate flourishes, intricate melodic turns, and moments of stark introspection. His work continues to be both expansive and intimate.

“I guess the reason that it took so long for me to put something out was that I couldn’t play the way I wanted to play” he explains. “I knew how I wanted it to be, but I just couldn’t do it. I gave myself quite a tough time”

But this perfectionist streak results in some truly wonderful moments of musicality. Charlie Cunningham’s enormously suggestive songwriting is sonically beautiful while also packing an emotional punch. “I love all sorts of music, as long as there is an honesty to it” he says. “But it’s hard, really, to let yourself be exposed like that.”

Cunningham’s artistic development, mapped by his three EPs Outside Things, Breather, and Heights, took another leap forward with his debut album, Lines. His deft touch and restraint has produced a work of compositions that sound fresh and yet eerily familiar. Although his celebrated flamenco nods and vocal hooks are present, his musicianship and songwriting ability now takes center stage. Fan favorites (Lights Off, Breather, While You Are Young) are still present but revisited as new versions and fine tuned productions, nestled within a diverse set of new songs. The lyrically confident Minimum and the vocally rhythmic Answers compliment new avenues scoped by the record’s production. His writing’s honesty and humility is matched with a confidence in its accomplishment.

The popularity of Charlie’s music is highlighted in over 4.7million Spotify plays across his three EPs and tens of thousands of views for his captivating online sessions reflect the enthusiasm for his live performances. This has been especially true on the continent, where he had played two sold out headline tours of Germany.

Charlie is set to release a new album, ‘Permanent Way‘ on 7th June.

PRE ORDER PERMANENT WAY

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Ani DeFranco To Release Memoir

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As singer/songwriter/feminist/activist gears up to release her memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream on May 7, she is also announcing her summer run of tour dates.

She kicks off her run on May 3 at JazzFest in New Orleans before a block of book events, then returns to performing May 31 in Houston.  

TICKETS HERE

In addition, at the shows DiFranco is offering a “No Walls” Mixtape, her current take on the songs related to the memoir. The “No Walls” Mixtape will also be available digitally on May 9.

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DiFranco addresses this to her fans. “So here is my mixtape for you, like the kind that I would make you on cassette if it was, like, 1993 and I was really into you. It’s a flight of Ani songs that I took the liberty of revisiting, solo stylie, twenty… (thirty?!) years later, songs that factor (either literally or figuratively) into my memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream.”

In her memoir, DiFranco recounts her early life from a place of hard-won wisdom, combining personal expression, the power of music, feminism, political activism, storytelling, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and much more into an inspiring whole. In these frank, honest, passionate, and often funny pages is the tale of one woman’s eventful and radical journey to the age of thirty. Ani’s coming of age story is defined by her ethos of fierce independence–from being an emancipated minor sleeping in a Buffalo bus station, to unwaveringly building a career through appearances at small clubs and festivals, to releasing her first album at the age of 18, to consciously rejecting the mainstream recording industry and creating her own label, Righteous Babe Records. In these pages, as in life, she never hesitates to challenge established rules and expectations, maintaining a level of artistic integrity that has impressed many and antagonized more than a few. Ani continues to be a major touring and recording artist as well as a celebrated activist and feminist, standing as living proof that you can overcome all personal and societal obstacles to be who you are and to follow your dreams. Tour dates and book events are listed below.

May 3 – New Orleans, LA – JazzFest
May 7 – New York, NY – Tishman Auditorium w/ Cecile Richards*
May 8 – Boston, MA – Coolidge Corner Theatre w/ Robin Young*
May 9 – Washington, DC – Sixth & I Synagogue w/ moderator TBA*
May 10 – Chicago, IL – Wilson Abbey w/ Jessica Hopper*
May 13 – Seattle, WA – Neptune Theatre w/ moderator TBA*
May 14 – Berkeley, CA – First Congregational Church of Berkeley w/
moderator TBA*
May 15 – Portland, OR – Revolution Hall w/ Cari Luna*
May 16 – Pasadena, CA – Pasadena Presbyterian Church w/ Valarie Kaur*
May 17 – Austin, TX – Central Presbyterian Church w/ Rachel Rascoe*
May 19 – Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Bound Literary Festival w/
Rhiannon Giddens*
May 22 – New Orleans, LA – New Orleans JCC w/ Gwen Thompkins*
May 31 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall^
June 1 – Tulsa, OK – Williams Theater @ Tulsa Performing Arts Center^
June 2 – Wichita, KS – The Wave^
June 4 – Columbia, MO – Rose Park^
June 5 – Milwaukee, WI – The Pabst Theater^
June 6 – Davenport, IA – Codfish Hollow Barn^
June 9 – Fargo, ND – Fargo Theatre^
June 10 – Duluth, MN – NorShor Theatre^
June 12 – Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue^
June 13 – Cleveland Heights, OH – Cain Park w/ special guest Lucy
Wainwright Roche
June 15 – Croton-on-Hudson, NY – The Great Hudson River Revival
June 16 – Woodstock, NY – Levon Helm Studios

August 1 – Anchorage, AK – Barnes & Noble w/ moderator TBA*
August 2 – Ninilchik, AK – Salmonfest
August 4 – Kaslo, BC – Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival
August 10 – Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Folk Music Festival
August 16 – Lyons, CO – Rocky Mountain Folks Festival
*book tour event
^with special guest Diane Patterson

West Coast Beats: Singer-Songwriter Ryan Thompson

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Ryan Thompson has been a visual artist, poet, husband, father, businessman, alt-rocker, and singer-songwriter. It took a lot of living to find his voice, and now Thompson is finally set to release his debut album of songs about that life (and maybe about your life, too.)

Waiting on a Ghost by Ryan Thompson & The Delicate Hounds arrives on May 24th. The album is comprised of Country-influenced songs about feelings and events that we’ve all experienced. Songs that resonate lyrically, but also melodically.

PURCHASE WAITING ON A GHOST

Even the sad songs need hooks!,” Thompson jokes with the bit of truth that all good humor has. These essentials get taken home on the album by the pro-style of session players on drums, pedal steel, and keyboards. Full-of-heart female backing vocals merge beautifully with the swells, bends and layers of a Hammond B-3. Thompson named this band to represent these sounds that they made together: “We are strong, but delicate. We are wolves with a conscience. We are Delicate Hounds.”

I did not spend my twenties on the music scene, trying to make a name for myself,” Thompson explains of his origins. “From the age of 21, I focused solely on my family and building my business career to support us. I always loved everything about making music, but it just wasn’t in the cards during these years.”

The Sacramento-based musician finally found sound in his 30’s, though he had yet to discover himself.

I started what was basically a 90’s, alternative band with some lifelong friends,” Thompson remembers. “It’s kind of weird, but I wrote most of our songs on the bass guitar, and even though the songs were not great, and we were definitely not good, after a couple years practicing and writing, we put together some pretty catchy tunes.”

As so many bands assembled “just for fun” will do, Thompson’s went away. It was at this time that the burgeoning Americana genre began to take hold, drawing Thompson to artists such as The Avett Brothers, Drive-By Truckers, and Justin Townes Earle. Coincidentally, Thompson had just moved from playing bass to playing guitar at this time, though he had yet to start focusing on writing again.

The change happened when another friend, in need of an acoustic guitarist for his new country band, approached Thompson about joining them.

It was fun because the crowds were always into it and could sing along and dance,” Thompson says.I enjoy that type of energy and I also love the formula for country songs. So, I started writing songs on the side. The most popular was called ‘Poppin’ Pills and Sweatin’, which I wrote based on a discussion about how Johnny Cash must have felt when he was flying while all hopped up on pills. The crowd always loved this song, and after I started to write more and more, I decided to leave the band and focus on my own sound.”

Thompson began writing country-influenced songs with a little more depth to them than “Poppin’ Pills and Sweatin,” and soon another fortuitous friendship saw him forming a new band, Million Dollar Giveaway, which released two EPs, toured throughout California, and provided the proving ground for the songs that later became Waiting on a Ghost.

“The making of this album started in Mexico,” Thompson says of the trip he took there with his former Million Dollar Giveaway bandmate. The two were accompanied by a laptop, microphone, keyboard, a ukulele, an old guitar, and an upright bass previously owned by Thompson’s wife’s grandfather.

I remember sending the demo of the song ‘Waiting on a Ghost’ to my wife after we recorded it and realizing that I was on to something,” Thompson says. “A whole new sound and feel was starting to emerge.”

Inspired by the Mexico demos, Thompson knew he needed to flesh out the songs and complete an album.

I reached out to Max Hart to see about recording the songs. He had just worked with The War on Drugs and was finishing up the We Are Scientists album. He is also the full time keyboard and guitar player in Melissa Etheridge’s band, so the fact that he was interested in taking on my project was flattering. I went to Los Angeles to record my tracks, and we continued to work on things remotely between LA and Sacramento. It truly was a collaboration. Both of our visions are represented, and I believe fulfilled, on this album.”

ARTIST LINKS

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A Sound Recommendation: Country Singer-Songwriter From Brooklyn – Ryan Luce

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Photo by Blair Beyda Photography

 

Ryan Luce has a love for music that grew out of warm Buffalo days, watching his dad mowing the lawn while listening to local oldies and country stations. At 11 years old he picked up a guitar, and for the next eight years he poured his being into perfecting his craft. Hiding himself away in the bathroom of his parents’ home, he would record mini albums on his cellphone. Eventually, he realized he needed to get on a stage, and at 27 performed live for the first time at the Buffalo venue the Waiting Room.

In 2014, Luce took his talents to New York City, where he’s been steadily playing open mics at Pete’s Candy Store and O’Reilly’s Pub.

Pulling from his experiences of growing up in a place where family and friends seem to have kept to their ways, Luce put out the single “Hometown Anthem,” which gained him radio airplay on the “Localized” segment of Alternative Buffalo 107.7.

His debut EP, California Gold will be out on April 26th.

He is hosting a record release show on May 4th at 8pm at the The Tabernacle at Sweet_ness 7 Cafe in Buffalo.   

 

 

ARTIST LINKS

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AngloFiles: Singer Songwriter John Adams

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John Adams is a Singer/Songwriter/Busker hailing from Aberdare in the South Wales Valleys. With a reach in his tone to match Sam Smith and James Blunt he draws influences from the likes of honest songwriters such as James Morrison, Damien Rice and David Gray. John’s acoustic approach and atmospheric piano accompaniment compliment his unique and impressive vocal ability as he earns the undivided attention of the listener by addressing them directly with emotive and heartfelt narratives.

This faithfulness to personal story is mirrored in how John came into the musical world, and continues to progress as a musician. A truly homegrown talent, he began his career busking on the streets, using the money to pay for his first release, fittingly entitled “The Pavement is My Stage”. After the album reached No.7 in the iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts in 2016 he took a leap of faith and left his job as a Mathematics Teacher. That gamble paid off and John has gone on to support household names such as Take That, Lemar, T’Pau and Katherine Jenkins. His hard work and impressive live performance has built a strong following of 50,000 online followers, over 6 million views on YouTube and a steady 300,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

Purchase ‘No White Lies’  

Eager to show his progression John released his album “You Never Know Who’s Listening” in 2018 which combined his live organic sound with a minimal electronic production to make a sound that is satisfyingly different from the usual guitar wielding Singer/Songwriter. The album was very well received by fans and the music industry alike and has already accrued over 6 million plays on Spotify. All 4 singles were playlist by the BBC and Spotify editorials with “See You Again” and “Dandelion Wishes” becoming Radio 2 favourites. He spent the year up and down the country performing at the UK’s largest festivals such as The Isle of Wight Festival, Great Escape and Victorious Festival, and his headline tour sold out in just two days from release. To end the year on a high his festive hit “Lost In Christmas” became the soundtrack for “La Feltrinelli” Christmas campaign all across Europe.
Not showing any signs of writers block, John intends to build on the momentum of last years success by releasing his EP “No White Lies” this year and embarking on his largest UK tour to date. “No White Lies” comes from a songwriter that sounds older, wiser and a little more aware of life around him. John has continued to marry easy melodies with strong digital rhythms to create a collection of songs that arrive at a sweet spot between todays pop and the traditional evocative folk he was raised on. To celebrate the release of this new record, John Adams is excited to reveal ‘Million Lives’, the visuals for his brand new single which addresses the theme of searching for something that you have an unexplained connection with.

ARTIST LINKS

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A Sound Recommedation J.S. Ondara

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Known for his emotive singing and literate narratives, Nairobi-born singer/songwriter J.S. Ondara emerged in his adopted home of Minneapolis, Minnesota around 2016. Inspired by Bob Dylan, the largely self-taught Ondara paid his dues on the Minneapolis folk-scene before issuing his Verve debut, Tales of America.

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Ondara first became interested in pop and rock music at a young age listening to his parents’ radio. Although he could not afford an instrument or lessons, he developed a keen love for songwriting, and by his teens had discovered classic folk artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, as well as contemporary performers like Damien Rice and Ray LaMontagne.

In 2013, looking to expand his opportunities, and inspired by his love of Dylan, he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota for college. There, he began teaching himself to play guitar, and put his lyrics to music. He began attending open-mike nights, and posted several cover songs online. He also issued an independent EP that caught the attention of the local public radio program The Current, which put his songs into rotation. 

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