Articles and Interviews – 2010
Befitting his status as one of the most gifted lyricists of the past four decades, Peter Rowan is at no loss for words as he talks about his Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band and its recent debut release, "Legacy" on the Compass label.
"It feels like coming home, and it feels like I've learned something along the way," he remarks from his current home base in the San Francisco area, although he notes with some irony that the band grew out of a situation where "I was basically homeless…living in a Buddhist temple."
"I was able to reach depths inside me that I didn't know I had," says Jason D. Williams of his new album Killer Instincts
. Speaking from New York City the night after a media showcase for his new Rockabilly Records release, the 51-year-old boogie-woogie piano-man was effusive in his praise for producer/ alt.-country singer-songwriter Todd Snider, "It's a piece of art that came from within that Todd was able to get out of me."
After a couple of spins through Marshall Chapman's new self-released album, "Big Lonesome," it seems strange to learn that the longtime Nashville singer/songwriter - whose '70s/'80s rock roots still bubble up through her more recent country concoctions - had largely decided not to do any more albums.
By Brian Baker
The self-referential song has been a stock-in-trade for country music since its earliest incarnations. From Johnny Cash to Willie Nelson to Roger Miller and beyond, from 78s to mp3s, country artists have enjoyed writing and singing, directly or tangentially, about themselves.
Following the release of their self-titled debut two years ago, the Nashville-based SteelDrivers quickly developed a following for their distinctive blend of bluegrass and blues with a dash of Southern rock, a sound termed by some as "Bill Monroe meets the Allman Brothers."
The Avett Brothers, as its name spells out, is a band comprised of brothers Scott and Seth Avett. In concert, this country-tinged group can go from singing a tender folk ballad, like I and Love and You
, to a still-relevant Roger Miller or Tom T. Hall country song, then on to something that sounds a little like punk-bluegrass.
A significant number of artists would be happy to notch two great consecutive albums. With the release of her latest, "See You on the Moon," Tift Merritt has managed to release four stone winners in a row.
Gretchen Wilson doesn't like her show billed as "An Evening with Gretchen Wilson." "I get kind of pissed because this isn't a wardrobe changing, dressy kind of show. This is like seeing Skynyrd," she said. It is probably safe to assume that she was not fazed by performing at Chautauqua N.Y., an epicenter of culture and refinement, on the stage that has hosted some of our most prominent intellectuals, symphonies and ballet companies. Breaking out with "Redneck Woman" in 2006, Wilson started her own label, releasing "I Got Your Country Right Here."
What is it like having your own record label?
It's amazing. It's freedom, I have the ability to do whatever I want, to record what I want when I want. I don't have to ask anyone's opinion any more. I don't need permission to do something on a creative piece of work from some suits that don't have a musical bone in their bodies. It's always been amazing to me how that works when you're with a major label. There are so many departments... »»»
Elizabeth Cook is like a modern day Loretta Lynn. She sings and writes as frankly about sex (with songs like Yes to Booty
), as Lynn did with "The Pill
. Now, on her fifth album, "Welder," which was produced by a true music business hit man, Don Was, Cook has fun with stereotypes (El Camino
), yet gets deadly serious and personal about the subject of addiction on Heroin Addict Sister
For their fifth album, "Wildwood," North Carolina quartet Chatham County Line decided to expand their bluegrass sound by utilizing instrumentation rarely a component in a bluegrass band: the drums.
As CCL frontman Dave Wilson explains, Tift Merritt's drummer/husband Zeke Hutchins had contributed to the "Wildwood" songs in their seminal state, so it was only right that he should have a hand in finishing them as well.
Sarah Buxton has a lot on her plate right now. She's getting a new duo project with Jedd Hughes off the ground, writing songs for an upcoming reboot of the movie "Footloose" and traveling across the country with the first Country Throwdown. Being a part of a new tour is lot like sailing uncharted waters. However, Buxton knows that when you love what you're doing, it's always worth every mile.
Award-winning country singer, Wade Bowen, has been a mainstay of the Texas Country music scene for nearly a decade. He recently joined the likes of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Asleep at the Wheel by releasing an album of live material recorded at the famous, Billy Bob's in Fort Worth, Texas.
The past year has been busy for Wade Bowen. The native of Waco, Texas has picked up a number of awards, including Lonestar Music's Live Act of the Year, undertaken a grueling touring schedule, and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry.
Forty years ago, Jack Hicks was a teenage banjo sensation, good enough to land jobs with some of the biggest names in bluegrass. After disappearing from the scene for a few years, he didn't have to look any farther than the next house over for an opportunity to get back into the swing of things.
When Drive-By Truckers hit the studio early last year, the Alabama-via-Athens sextet were fresh from experiences that would have a profound effect on their next album. The Truckers had been on a long road trip supporting their last album, 2008's stripped back and country-flavored "Brighter Than Creation's Dark," which had been largely written on the band's acoustic Dirt Underneath Tour. They had also just recently wrapped up the whirlwind sessions that produced Booker T's Grammy-nominated "Potato Hole" album.
Daniel Martin Moore and Ben Sollee have each made a significant impact on the folk/bluegrass scene over the past few years. Sollee is a classically trained cellist and a member of Abigail Washburn's Sparrow Quartet, and his acclaimed 2008 solo debut, "Learning to Bend," was an amazing blend of bluegrass, folk and jazz. Moore returned from a Peace Corps stint three years ago and sent an unsolicited demo of his Nick Drake-like songs to Sub Pop; against all odds, they signed Moore immediately and set him to work on his first album, 2008's "Stray Age."
Blue Highway's banjo player Jason Burleson acknowledges that their 1995 debut album "It's A Long, Long Road" turned out to be prophetic. It has
been quite a journey for the Tennessee-based band that has become one of the "gold standards" of bluegrass, with 8 more "signpost" albums along the way, the latest being their newly-released 15th Anniversary collection on Rounder, "Some Day."
Elvis Aron Presley, had he not collapsed face first into a shag carpet in his Graceland bathroom on Aug. 16, 1977, would have been 75-years-old Friday. Yet, somehow, his birthday seems all the more important because he is not actually here while others feast at his table.