Category Archives: Music

Carlene Carter Pays Tribute to Her Family (Video)

carlene carter album cover

The onetime country wild child brings her love letter to family traditions to The Cutting Room in Manhattan on Wednesday Night

You might think that it would be a no-brainer for a blogger who named his blog after a Carter Family song to write about Carlene Carter’s latest album, Carter Girl.

But you’d be wrong.

I’ve been listening to her wonderful collection of a dozen tunes — drawn from three generations of her family heritage — regularly since its April release. But I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about it.

But now, with Carlene stopping in New York City for a show at The Cutting Room on Wednesday evening, the time has come.

Carter Girl is a loving tribute to Carlene’s family, with songs taken from three generations — her grandparents’, the Carter Family, her mom June and stepdad Johnny Cash’s, and her own.

It’s one of the most heartfelt tributes imaginable, but one that maintains a clear artistic vision that doesn’t fall into a fawning tone. Carlene embraces her family heritage in a seriously loving way, sounding as good as she’s ever sounded.

In a way, Carlene seems to have reached a point in her artistic life much like that of stepsister Rosanne Cash. But while Rosanne used new songs to explore her roots and more on The River & the Thread,  Carlene has tackled family classics to do the job.

Nine of the 12 tunes are credited in whole or in part, to Maybelle or A.P. Carter, her grandparents, who were the original Carter Family. One is her mom’s, one was written by her aunt Helen Carter, and the remaining tune — the unabashedly sentimental tale of her grandparents,  “Me and the Wildwood Rose” — by Carlene.

The album features Carlene in some memorable pairings — Willie Nelson duets on “Troublesome Waters” in a version that brings to the fore its heritage as an old Protestant hymn (Fanny Brice’s “Blessed Assurance” from 1873), Elizabeth Cook on the Carter Family take on a traditional song subject, “Blackie’s Gunman,” Kris Kristofferson on “Black Jack David,” another classic reinvented by the Carter Family, and Vince Gill on “Lonesome Valley 2003,” another Carter Family classic re-imagined by Carlene and Al Anderson as a take on her mother’s death.

She won’t have her star helpers with her when she takes the stage at The Cutting Room. But a reviews of her Oct. 12 show in Boston suggests that Carlene and her guitar are more than capable of putting across the Carter Girl tunes, along with some old favorites and some unrecorded gems, quite well.

You’ll be sorry if you miss this show.

If You Go

Carlene Carter performs at 7:30 p.m.. (doors open at 6:30), Wednesday, Oct. 15. The Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd Street, New York, NY.  Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 on day of show, and available by tapping or clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Get ready for The Chew Toys to put the bite on you (video, SoundCloud)

Jay Tag and Kevin Dickson are The Chew Toys. (Photo by Dave Ehrlich)

Jay Tag and Kevin Dickson are The Chew Toys. (Photo by Dave Ehrlich)

Northeast LA duo unleashing self-titled debut album on Sept. 2

The Chew Toys debut album coverThe infectious sound of The Chew Toys makes them one of the most entertaining new bands in Los Angeles these days.

The self-proclaimed queercore duo comprises married couple Jay Tag and Kevin Dickson, who have been polishing — maybe refining is a better word — their punk sound with dozens of live shows around Northeast LA since 2012.

On Sept. 2, this local legend will take break out of LA and take on the unsuspecting world with their first album, a self-titled collection of 13 songs — 11 of which clock in at well under 3 minutes — that are sure to become earworms.

Check out a video and a SoundCloud song sample after the jump.

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Kristin Mueller steps into the spotlight tonight (video)

Kristin Mueller is serious locked in with her bandmates in Lucinda Black Bear. (© 2010, Steven P. Marsh/www.willyoumissme.com)

Kristin Mueller is serious locked in with her bandmates in Lucinda Black Bear. (© 2010 Steven P. Marsh/www.willyoumissme.com)

In-demand freelance drummer celebrates her move to Brooklyn with a set of her own songs at Park Slope’s Union Hall

You know Kristin Mueller‘s name. You’ve seen her name on this blog, and have read about her elsewhere. You’ve almost surely seen her behind the drum kit in many great local, national, and international acts — from Lucinda Black Bear and Gloria Deluxe to Dan Zanes and DBR (Daniel Bernard Roumain), along with some of Cynthia Hopkins’ stage shows.

What you may not realize is that she’s an accomplished singer-songwriter, too. But she’s so busy drumming for others that her own work has taken a  back seat. (It’s hard to believe, but it looks like she hadn’t released anything under her name before this year’s Deserts & Long Trails — which you can buy on Bandcamp by tapping or clicking here — since Ports of Call in 2006.)

Here’s a video of “Fault” from Deserts & Long Trails:

If you’ve seen her play, her percussion skills aren’t even slightly in doubt. She’s an energetic drummer who is always laser-focused and locked in on her bandmates. But she’s no slouch as a songwriter, either. While her songs exhibit the colors of indie country and pop rock,  like many of the bands she works with. But she’s followed her own path, resulting in a distinctive, personal take on the genres.

After the jump, read more about where and when Mueller is playing tonight, along with ticket info and links. Continue reading

The road goes on forever in push to make ‘Roadrunner’ Massachusetts’ official rock song (poll, video)

Boston music maven and mayoral adviser Joyce Linehan promises to continue her fight

Jonathan Richman (pictured above on Instagram with Lil BUB, the rockin’  Internet cat) says “Roadrunner,” the iconic Massachusetts anthem that may be the Modern Lovers founder’s best-known song, isn’t good enough be an official song of any kind for the Bay State.

And since the state legislature ended its session last Friday without taking action on a bill to make it the state’s official rock song, it looks like he’ll get his way — for now, at least.

But Joyce Linehan, policy adviser to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, vows that the fight’s not over.

“Roadrunner might not be the official rock song of the Commonwealth, but it’s certainly the unofficial,” Linehan posted to her Facebook page Tuesday. 

But she followed up Wednesday morning with a stronger statement in response to a tweet from comedian John Hodgman, who has supported the “Roadrunner” effort.

“John Hodgman has spoken. I will fight on,” she posted.

 

Walsh introduced the  bill to make “Roadrunner” the state rock song back in February 2013, before he won the mayoralty in Beantown and gave up his legislative seat.

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Stew & Heidi Rodewald’s ‘Family Album’ conquers Oregon Shakespeare Festival (video)

Family_746x420If you find yourself in Oregon before the end of August, be sure to set aside a few hours to check out the world premiere of the latest musical play by Stew and Heidi Rodewald of The Negro Problem at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

For fans, “Family Album” will seem familiar, as they’ve incorporated songs fans have heard TNP play in concert or in other, less-structured, theater pieces over the years. And charismatic guitarist Christian Gibbs, who was a linchpin in Stew and Heidi’s breakthrough show, “Passing Strange,” steps forward to take a larger role in this show.

You’ll see what I mean by the familiarity when you watch the show’s video trailer and read the review in the Los Angeles Times. After you’ve had a look, go here for more information and  to buy tickets.

The show was created with director Joanna Settle, a longtime Stew-and-Heidi collaborator who now heads the theater school at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts.

Tickets have been selling well, but as of today, there are 16 performance dates for which seats are still available. Prices range from $25 to $99. Go here now for more information and tickets. The run ends Aug. 31.

 

Blues great Paul Geremia sidelined by stroke

 

Paul Geremia's "Love My Stuff," issued in 2011, is a superb collection of many of his most familiar tunes in live performance.

Paul Geremia’s “Love My Stuff,” issued in 2011, is a superb collection of many of his most familiar tunes in live performance.

Acoustic blues musician Paul Geremia had a stroke in late June, family and friends confirm.

Geremia, who is 70, spent a few days a hospital after he had the stroke the weekend of June 28, and was moved to an Ohio rehab facility. Friends who have spoken with or visited Paul say he seems to be progressing well.

Geremia, a native of Providence, R.I., is a first-rate bluesman, a songwriter and a scholar of early jazz and blues — one who has worked steadily at his craft since the 1960s. He has produced 11 albums since 1968 and has toured steadily

He is an amazing guitarist and is considered one of the best country blues fingerpickers on six and twelve-string guitar — acoustic only, he doesn’t record on electric — a soaring harmonica-player, and has a husky soulful voice.

He’s shared the stage with Babe Stovall, Yank Rachel,Son House, Skip James, Howlin’ Wolf, and most importantly, Carolina bluesman Pink Anderson, who had something of a career rebirth thanks to Geremia’s efforts. Geremia also absorbed the music of Leadbelly, Percy Mayfield, Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Willie McTell, Scrapper Blackwell, Blind Blake, and many more. He also writes songs that fit neatly into that rich musical niche.

Blues musician Roy Bookbinder said recently, “Paul is the king of all of us.” The late Dave Van Ronk called Geremia “the best acoustic blues musician in America.” Acoustic Guitar magazine named Geremia “one of the best country blues fingerpickers ever.”

Terri Thal, who managed Van Ronk and Geremia in the 1960s, tells this story about Geremia:

“Recently, when Martus, the man I live with, and I went to the Turning Point in Piermont, N.Y., to hear Paul, as we do whenever he plays there, Martus asked, ‘Do you thing he’ll play anything new?’

“Of course, I didn’t know what Paul’s set would comprise. Lo and behold, the entire set was music we hadn’t heard before–or at least, for a long time–and we’ve heard Paul often.

“I think his memory is stashed with such a huge variety of songs and stories that he could go for many hours playing without repeating anything.”

Fans are encouraged to write to Geremia during his long recuperation. He’s reachable by email at  at paulgeremia@gmail.com or by post at:

Ohio Health and Rehabilitation
1087 Dennison Ave.
Columbus, OH 43201
Attn: Paul Geremia

 

Amy Helm’s Hudson Valley roots keep her anchored

Amy Helm

Amy Helm

I was thrilled to chat with Amy Helm the other day ahead of her appearance this Saturday at the 10th annual Pleasantville Music Festival in lovely downtown Pleasantville in Westchester County, N.Y.

Helm talked about her famous surname and her recent move out of ensemble work and into the spotlight as the leader of her own band, Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers.

Read the full interview with Helm at lohud.com by tapping or clicking here, or see it in print in Friday’s editions of The Journal News.