A Sound Recommendation: India Ramey Makes National Debut

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Blasting twin barrels of Americana noire and southern-gothic songwriting, India Ramey fires on all cylinders with her national debut, Snake Handler.

Pentecostal churches, broken households, crooked family trees, forgotten pockets of the Deep South, and domestic violence all fill the album’s 10 songs, whose autobiographical lyrics pull from Ramey’s experience as a young girl in rural Georgia. Intensely personal and sharply written, Snake Handler shines a light on the darkness of Ramey’s past, driving out any lingering demons — or snakes, if you will — along the way.

PURCHASE SNAKE HANDLER

Inspired by the warm sonics of Jason Isbell‘s Southeastern and the big-voiced bombast of Neko Case‘s Furnace Room Lullabies, Snake Handler was recorded in six days with producer Mark Petaccia — Southeastern‘s sound engineer, coincidentally — and members of Ramey’s road band. Ringing guitars, violin, atmospheric organ, and percussive train beats all swirl together, leaving room for Ramey’s voice — an instrument punctuated by the light drawl of her hometown and the quick tremolo of her vibrato — to swoon, swagger, and sparkle. It’s a voice she began developing as a child in Rome, Georgia, singing made-up songs into her electric hair curler while her parents fought just outside her bedroom door. The family home was a violent one, the product of an addicted father who flew into an abusive rage whenever his vices took control.

Despite being the youngest of three children, Ramey grew up quickly, robbed of a typical childhood by her unpredictable home life. She recollects those early years in “The Baby,” skewers her no-good dad in “Devil’s Blood ,” tells her mother’s story in “Rome to Paris,” and paints a less-than-inviting picture of her hometown in “Devil’s Den.”

Although her childhood lacked peace, it was filled with music, thanks to a charismatic grandfather who, in his younger years, sang in an Alabama-based gospel quartet. Well-known throughout the state, he turned down an offer to become a permanent performer on The Lawrence Welk Show when his wife refused to move to the big city. Instead, he remained in his hometown of Sand Mountain, Alabama — notorious for its number of snake-handling churches — and worked as piano tuner, decorating his own home with cast-off pianos and other instruments. It was during trips to that house, with her mother playing autoharp and her grandaddy playing acoustic guitar, that Ramey grew up singing.

 

“He lived to be 98,” she says of her grandfather, “and when he was in the nursing home, I bought my first guitar at Wal-Mart. I took it to him so he could teach me a couple chords, and he told me, ‘I don’t regret anything about my life, but I still wonder what might have happened if I would’ve done something with my music. I’m proud of you for getting your education, but I want you to take this guitar and do something with your music.’ So that’s what I’m doing.”

Before launching her music career, though, Ramey worked as a Deputy District Attorney in Montgomery, Alabama. The goal? To help women who, like her own mother, found themselves in abusive situations.

“When I was younger,” she remembers, “I competed in beauty pageants to earn scholarship money for college. I wanted to become a prosecutor and save battered women. It worked. I went to law school, worked as a special prosecutor, and got to make a difference in a lot of victims’ lives.”

There, between daytime hours spent in the law office and nighttime gigs alongside her Birmingham-based band, Ramey realized that music — her true calling — could help people, too. She began making honest, heartfelt music, filled with lyrics that spoke openly of her past. A pair of early releases, Junkyard Angel and Blood Crescent Moon, helped sharpen her songwriting chops. Those albums also paved the way for her move to Nashville, where she turned her back on the legal world and, instead, threw herself into songwriting. Once settled in Tennessee, she found a kindred spirit in Mark Petaccia.

 

Working together, Ramey and Petaccia fill Snake Handler‘s songs with vivid musical and visual imagery. In “Drowned Town,” a song inspired by the cities in northeastern Alabama that were forever submerged by the TVA’s hydroelectric damming projects, Anna Harris’ violin floats far beneath Ramey’s melody, as through it’s being recorded underwater. Similarly, the distorted guitar lines in the album’s closing number, “Saying Goodbye,” parallel the jumble of feelings that pushed Ramey to write the song.

 

“I wrote that song about going to see my father when he was dying,” she says of “Saying Goodbye,” which ends the album on a note of acceptance and weary optimism. “It was weird to see him on his deathbed, because I’d spent my whole life hating him. Still, I was heartbroken to see him dying. I didn’t know how to assimilate those feelings. Joey Fletcher plays guitar in my band, and Mark put on a baritone guitar that was being run through a distortion pedal. When I heard it, I thought, ‘That guitar sound is exactly the way my head felt when I walked into the nursing home. All the cognitive dissonance I was feeling is in that instrument.’”

Melodic and mighty, Snake Handler is a battle cry from a songwriter who’s unafraid to dive back into her past — no matter how dark it may be — to find closure. It’s an album about final chapters and new beginnings. About violence, resolution, and next steps. It’s India Ramey: unfiltered, unrestrained, and wholly engaging.

 

Upcoming Shows:

October 8 – Nashville, TN at The Basement

October 21 – Nashville, TN at Drifters

November 9 – Asheville, NC at Upcountry Brewing

 

ARTIST LINKS

WEBSITE    FACEBOOK     TWITTER     INSTAGRAM

AngloFiles: New Music From Indie Pop Rocker Nerina Pallot

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British Singer Songwriter Nerlina Pallot is set to release her latest album, Stay Lucky via Idaho Records on October 13, 2017.

Stay Lucky was recorded at London’s RAK studios, backed by soulman Michael Kiwanuka’s touring band.  Guets on the record include: Bernard Butler, Markus Feehily, and Rod Thomas aka Bright Light Bright Light.

PRE ORDER STAY LUCKY

Title Track:

ARTIST LINKS:

WEBSITE     FACEBOOK    TWITTER     INSTAGRAM    YOUTUBE

Steve Forbert – An American Troubadour

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Steve Forbert is a true American Troubadour.

His 1978 debut album proclaimed the singer-songwriter Alive on Arrival and indeed, the artist made a strong impression with a set of personal, sometimes gentle, musical reflections on life and love.

Forbert departed Mississippi for New York City in the mid-seventies and managed to carve out a niche in the vibrant club scene of the day, playing famous venues like Gerde’s Folk City and even CBGB’s.  That heady period was captured on Alive on Arrival and on Forbert’s 1979 follow-up, Jackrabbit Slim.

Rolling Stone contributing editor, David Wild, recently wrote that “now or then, you would be hard-pressed to find a debut effort that was simultaneously as fresh and accomplished as Alive on Arrival . . . it was like a great first novel by a young author who somehow managed to split the difference between Mark Twain and J.D. Salinger.”

Producer, John Simon, renowned for his collaborations with The Band and Leonard Cohen, shepherded Forbert’s second release, Jackrabbit Slim, to success. Forbert credits Simon with helping him nail “Romeo’s Tune” for the Nashville-recorded album, and the song became the artist’s only Top 20 U.S. hit. (It peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.) Though further chart success has eluded Steve Forbert, he’s continued to write particularly insightful songs and has grown an impressive legacy.

He’s received a Grammy nomination, seen his songs performed by Keith Urban, Rosanne Cash and Marty Stuart, and even appeared opposite Cyndi Lauper in her music video for “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Forbert continues to tour, both solo and with his band, and has a string of upcoming dates scheduled both in the United States and abroad.

An American Troubadour: The Songs Of Steve Forbert, is out today, via Blue Rose Music and features 21 songs by 22 acts, showcasing Steve’s career of five decades, and the impact he’s had on artists and musicians throughout popular music and culture.

Blue Rose Music’s founder Joe Poletto explains: “Some say that Steve is too young to have a ‘tribute’ record, and I think that’s true because Steve has a lot of music left in him. In my mind, this project is not a tribute but rather a recognition of the spirit of the troubadour in all of those artists who follow their life’s path like Steve does- with purpose and passion.”

John Oates covering I Blinked Once from 1988’s “Streets Of This Town

PURCHASE AN AMERICAN TROUBADOUR – THE SONGS OF STEVE FORBERT

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, covering “Romeo’s Tune“, one of Steve’s biggest hits – which reached #11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980 and is ranked the 60th biggest American hit of 1980 by Music Outfitters.

“It was an honor and memorable experience to create our interpretation of such a lovely and timeless song,” says Nicki. “Thank you Steve for all your years and dedication to music.  It is inspiring. May your songs be heard forever.”

Track List

  1. Kelly Fitzgerald – Thinkin’
  2. John Oates featuring Bekka Bramlett – I Blinked Once
  3. Elliott Peck – Goin’ Down To Laurel
  4. David Luning – Steve Forbert’s Midsummer Night’s Toast
  5. Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers – Romeo’s Tune
  6. Jim Lauderdale – What Kinda Guy?
  7. Robert Earl Keen – It Isn’t Gonna Be That Way
  8. James Maddock – Grand Central Station, March 18, 1977
  9. Amy McCarley – Cellophane City
  10. John Popper – You Cannot Win (If You Do Not Play)
  11. Megan Palmer – Running On Love
  12. Jesse Bardwell – The Sweet Love That You Give (Sure Goes A Long, Long Way)
  13. Wes Langlois – I’m In Love With You
  14. Jackie Greene – If You’re Waiting On Me
  15. Eric Lindell – January 23-30, 1978
  16. Gwyneth Moreland – Autumn This Year
  17. Todd Snider – It Sure Was Better Back Then
  18. Bill Lloyd – When The Sun Shines
  19. Jason Crosby – Tonight I Feel So Far Away From Home
  20. HUGElarge – Rock While I Can Rock
  21. Tim Bluhm – Search Your Heart

 

BIG HEAD TODD AND THE MONSTERS –NEW MUSIC AND US DATES ANNOUNCED

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Big Head Todd and the Monsters are set to tour the U.S. throughout the fall/winter in support of their forthcoming eleventh studio album, New World Arisin’, due November 3 on their own Big Records imprint.

The album’s first single “Damaged One” is currently at #26 and rising on the AAA Chart.

New World Arisin’ was written and produced by vocalist/guitarist Todd Park Mohr with original members Rob Squires on bass and Brian Nevin on drums and percussions. Plus, Jeremy Lawton on keyboards, lap and petal steel guitar and backing vocals. It was recorded at E-Town Studios in Boulder, Colorado and mixed by Mark Needham with engineering by James Tuttle.

Mohr explains that the songs were written over a twenty-year period. He describes that “some songs fell into place immediately, while others took many years to materialize. Yet after such a long gestating process for the writing, the recording was completed in just six days.

Having played Denver’s historic Red Rocks Amphitheater more than nineteen times with recent dates sold out this summer, the band is part of the fabric of the Colorado music scene. The trio of Mohr, Nevin and Squires founded the band in the early ’80s in Boulder and quickly built a strong reputation in the local club circuit. The band’s debut album, Another Mayberry, arrived in 1989, though it would be another four years before their breakthrough platinum-selling third full length Sister Sweetly made them a national phenomenon with the single “Bittersweet,” which remains a rock radio staple to this day. The only personnel change in these three decades has been the addition of a fourth member, putative “new guy” Lawton, in 2004

The band has released music steadily throughout the decades leading to their most recent release 2014’s Black Beehive. They have also released two live albums Live Monsters, Live at the Fillmore and 2015 Live at Red Rocks.

The band has proudly controlled its own business dealings and marketing from the start, releasing 2007’s All the Love You Need via their fan email list. In 2011, they formed a new project under the name Big Head Blues Club recording two albums under the moniker. The first 100 Years of Robert Johnson celebrates the songs of the late blues great and features legends such as B. B. King, Charlie Musselwhite, Cedric Burnside, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Hubert Sumlin, Ruthie Forster and Lightin’ Malcolm. Their second LP Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon is a tribute to Willie Dixon featuring Mud Morganfield, Billy Branch, Ronnie Baker Brooks, and Erica Brown. The album was produced by multiple Grammy winner Chris Goldsmith and Todd Park Mohr. The band has gone on to play shows under the name Big Head Blues Club moniker inviting some of the legends featured on the album to perform with them.

Recently, band composed the theme song to programs including “NCIS: New Orleans” and “Swamp Wars.” Their music has also been included in Contraband, The To Do List, Grudge Match, Garden Party, “So You Think You Can Dance” and many more.

Tour Dates

October 5—Kenny’s Westside Pub—Peoria, IL

October 7—Breckenridge Brewery—Littleton, CO

October 11—Jackson Hole Fireman’s Ball—Jackson, WY

November 29—Avalon Theatre—Grand Junction, CO

November 30—Park City Live—Park City, UT

December 1—Pub Station—Billings, MT

December 2—The Wilma—Missoula, MT

December 5—Revolution Event Center—Garden City, ID

December 7—Revolution Hall—Portland, OR

December 8—Hifi Music Hall—Eugene, OR

December 9—Showbox—Seattle, WA

December 12— Crest Theatre—Sacramento, CA

December 14—House of Blues—Anaheim, CA

December 15—Troubadour—West Hollywood, CA

December 16—Warfield Theatre—San Francisco, CA

December 17—Crystal Bay Club/Crown Room—Crystal Bay, NV

December 21—Aggie Theatre—Ft. Collins, CO

December 31—Belly Up Tavern—Solana Beach, CA

January 12—The Pageant—St. Louis, MO

January 13—Palace Theatre—St. Paul, MN

January 14—Pabst Theater—Milwaukee, WI

January 16—Vogue Theatre—Indianapolis, IN

January 18—State Theatre—Kalamazoo, MI

January 19—Vic Theatre—Chicago, IL

January 20—Vic Theatre—Chicago, IL

January 23—House of Blues—Cleveland, OH

January 25—9:30 Club—Washington, DC

January 26—Theatre of the Living Arts—Philadelphia, PA

January 27—Capitol Theatre—Port Chester, NY

January 28—Wilbur Theatre—Boston, MA

January 31—The National—Richmond, VA

February 1—The Ritz—Raleigh, NC

February 2—The Fillmore—Charlotte, NC

February 3—Variety Playhouse—Atlanta, GA

 

ARTIST LINKS

WEBSITE    FACEBOOK    TWITTER    SOUNDCLOUD

 

 

A Sound Recommendation: Austin’s Shy Beast

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Photo by Nina Hawkins

Dreamy indie-pop outfit Shy Beast has officially announced their debut self-titled EP, which is set to release on November 17, 2017.  Produced by Danny Reisch (White Denim, Okkervil River, Bright Light Social Hour), Shy Beast’s debut EP boasts infectious, synth-layered tracks reminiscent of Alvvays, Tennis and Chairlift.

The beast is shy because expectations are high. The abundant talent in the band, already with

demonstrated results, stokes those expectations. The only real internal concern  is how best to express all the avenues and channels of the musical potential.

The musicians are: Mariclaire (MC) Glaeser- leader of the band, songwriter, singer, and keyboardist. Both shy and beastly, she is the creative force of the group. Her vocal range is huge, and she uses it to captivate audiences, and claim her place  as the alpha in her pride of musical men. Her creature companions include David  Tenczar-guitarist and vocalist-the man for whom there is no melody too complex to master. His guitar work is flexible, his harmonies malleable. Andrew Bennett is a guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist. He projects a gentle, purring vibe on  stage, conveying the impression that less is more. Jay Cesak (aka Jayzilla) is the almighty monster of the bass clef. A commanding presence near the back of the stage, Cesak creates realms of transportive sonicity with drummer Drew Silverman.  Silverman is certainly the King of Beat. Each strike of a drumhead, each stroke of chimes, each scratch across the audience’s face, gives back full value and energy in Silverman’s construction of Shy Beast’s musical environments.

With excitement towards their upcoming release, Shy Beast explains, “We invite you to hop on for a rumbling ride through the forests of imagination to the deep darkhideouts of the heart.”

 

Upcoming Shows

Oct 14 – Austin, TX @ Geraldine’s

Nov 17 – Austin, TX @ Swan Dive (EP Release Show)

Nov 25 – Austin, TX @ Geraldine’s

Dec 7 – Austin, TX @ Geraldine’s

Dec 14 – Austin, TX @ Geraldine’s

Dec 15 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk

Dec 21 – Austin, TX @ Geraldine’s

Dec 28 – Austin, TX @ Geraldine’s

ARTIST LINKS

WEBSITE     INSTAGRAM     FACEBOOK

A Sound Recommendation: New Music From Roots Rocker Terra Lightfoot

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Whether you’re talking about her as a songwriter, guitarist or vocalist, one thing is indisputable: Hamilton’s Terra Lightfoot is a ferocious talent.

Her songs tap into the raw emotion of hearts supercharged by love, lust, loneliness and temptation. Her playing melds expert finger-picking and distorted, hook-heavy melodies. And her elemental voice commands attention and awe, whether on slow-burning soul ballads or hard-charging rock numbers.

Her new album New Mistakes, drops October 13th On Sonic Unyon Records.

 

Dustin Rabin Photography

Pre-Order New Mistakes

 

A roots rocker with a powerful voice and a badass Gibson SG that she plays with consummate ease… she could be your new rock ’n’ roll hero. Drawing from rock, soul & blues, Terra Lightfoot is a monster talent that will be gracing the world’s largest stages in no time.” – PopMatters

ARTIST LINKS

WEBSITE   FACEBOOK   TWITTER    INSTAGRAM