Articles and Interviews – 2017
Dan Tyminski (known simply as "Tyminski" on his 2017 release "Southern Gothic") has traditional music roots and unassailable bluegrass street cred especially given his membership in Alison Krauss' Union Station. He is also a powerful songwriter and has been writing songs for himself and others for years now.
Not too long ago, Tyminski was in the process of putting some new songs in his portfolio to share with other artists, but a funny thing happened on the way: his package of songs was so distinct that UMG encouraged him to record and promote the songs under his own name. The result is "Southern Gothic," a dark, foreboding collection of songs, all co-written by Tyminski, that explore the not-quite-right ethos afoot in the culture these days.
Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have powerhouse individual talents; each has followed an estimable career path to where they find themselves today: making complex, but spare, records, writing music together and touring with their son Juno. Their new release, "Echo In The Valley" features mostly songs written by Fleck and Washburn, banjos, Washburn's strong vocals and very little else. "Echo" is a virtuoso turn by this duo.
Legends don't come any more legendary than Chris Hillman. The roll call of bands that comprises Hillman's half century in music reads like a wing exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, the Souther Hillman Furay Band, the Desert Rose Band, his potent solo career and an almost uncountable number of cameos on an equally impressive number of albums.
William Shakespeare noted a few centuries back that a rose by any other
name would be equally aromatic, and that general idea has musical
implications as well. The Cadillac Three knows a thing or two about maintaining
a sonic identity after a name change; the Nashville trio began as the
Cadillac Black six years ago before legal entanglements forced them to
switch to their numerically appropriate moniker.
Those aware of the late Owsley "Bear" Stanley likely know him for one of two reasons – his pioneering work manufacturing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in San Francisco during the mid-to-late 1960s and his role as an innovative sound engineer. Most notably, Bear worked with the Grateful Dead from 1965 through 1975 and in that role, he was the driving force behind the greatest concert sound system ever conceived – The Wall of Sound – which was used by the band throughout 1974 before being retired while the band was on hiatus from touring in 1975.
Headed into 2015, Imelda May was on a hit streak. Her rockabilly career was in full swing, nurtured by the likes of former Squeeze keyboardist Jools Holland and guitar icon Jeff Beck. Her albums routinely topped the charts in her native Ireland. No less than Bono cited her as the country's queen, and she attracted a global fan base through rigorous touring. At home, May was wife to musical collaborator/guitarist Darrel Higham and mother to two-year-old Violet, and the future seemed shades bright.
For most artists, eight years is a fair amount of time in their careers. For Nikki Lane, eight years represents the entirety of her recorded history, and she's filled that relatively short time span with a highlight reel of impressive accomplishments, not the least of which would be actually learning how to write and play music and including her most recent and best album to date, "Highway Queen."
The Greenville, S.C. native was raised on country and Motown, but turned her teenage attention to punk and alternative rock. A high school dropout, Lane moved to Los Angeles where a series of nothing jobs led to an opportunity to design her own shoe line; she currently runs a vintage clothing boutique in Nashville called High Class Hillbilly.
For The Avett Brothers, MerleFest is a coming home of sorts. This year's edition of the MerleFest "traditional-plus" music festival in Wilkesboro, N.C., the event's 30th anniversary, a milestone sure to be marked by many different special appearances and commemorations during the festival's four-day run, is no exception.
No appearance may be more significant or thorough, than the participation of The Avett Brothers, who will appear in some form on every one of those days.
There's no more solid live bluegrass show than the Gibson Brothers. They play with great technical skill and crispness. Their harmonies are just what a brother act should be: sweet, true and never forced. Brothers Leigh and Eric Gibson surround themselves with outstanding sidemen with impeccable bluegrass cred: Jesse Brock (mandolin), Mike Barber (bass) and Clayton Campbell on fiddle. Brock is the newcomer in the group, having been with The Gibsons for the last four years or so. So, continuity and preparedness contribute to the band's assuredness.