It’s no secret I like my roots and country music… I always tell folks that my music collection is a) Colorado (rock, pop, country, blues.. whatever) and b) Americana, Alt-country, folk, bluegrass. That’s it, really. This week’s MMMM features two of the top new Colorado Americana records of the year so far for 2010. What I like most about these albums is their adherence to tradition. I read somewhere recently that too many of today’s americana bands have become cosmo-americana – not necessarily a good thing if you’re a fan of real authentic American roots music… folk, country, jazz, blues, whatever… modernity is where these two albums leave off. Faux-country they are not. And, telling just by the personnel list on each album, they’re stacked with some of the best roots music players in the state.
Romano Paoletti – Story of a Lifetime
Genre/Style: americana, country, country-folk
Produced by Eric Thorin
Romano Paoletti – lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Sally Van Meter – Scheerhorn resonator guitar, acoustic guitar, lap steel
Betse Ellis – fiddle
Caleb Roberts – mandolin, electric mandolin
Eben Grace – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, pedal steel
Eric Thorin – acoustic bass, electric bass, vocals
Todd Moore – drums
Michael Crittenden – acoustic guitar
Erick Jaskowiak – acoustic guitar
Amanda Rose Paoletti – vocals
John McVey – vocals
Mollie O’Brien – vocals
4. Can You Canoe
1. Ragtime Blues
2. Can You Run
3. Hearts And Bones
6. All This Time
Notes: I first heard about this record last summer. Dave McIntyre (booking, sound, Oskar Blues, Lyons) turned me onto Romano’s music at the Brews & Brewgrass festival, that Romano had been invited to perform at. I believe Romano released this album in December or January, but it took my friend Mac giving me his personal copy for me to get it in the library. Boy am I glad he did that. Thanks Dave!! 🙂
From Romano’s website: Romano was born into a musical family. His grandfather, “Ragtime” Bob Darch, was the only living inductee of the Ragtime Hall of Fame. At a young age, Romano was taken with his grandfather to tour the East coast hitting the saloons and scuttlebutts. While Bob Darch pounded on a piano Romano played the spoons and bartended for his Grandpa’s act. At this point in Romano’s life he learned how to be an entertainer. Romano’s mother, Norma Jean, was always a singer and was signed by Smokey Robinson of Motown Records. She taught Romano from a young age how to sing and often placed him on stage with her to sing before an audience.
David Williams & the Wildgrass Band featuring Kristina Murray – The Crazy KindGenre/Style: americana, country, bluegrass, country-folk
Produced by: David Williams
Recorded by: Brian Hunter @ Swallow Hill and Mousetrap studios in Denver
David Williams – vocals, guitar, mandolin
Kristina Murray – vocals, guitar
Katie Glassman – fiddle (Lannie Garrett, Hazel Miller, E-town)
Chris Elliot (Spring Creek) – banjo
Jordan Ramsey (Long Road Home, The Grant Farm, Winner 2007 Rockygrass mandolin competition ) – mandolin
Duane Webster – bass
1. Annie Oakley
13. Heaveny Road
5. Why Do Angels Get Wings?
7. Ukraine Girl
Notes: I became a fan of David’s music about five years ago now. He had just released Joplin, MO… and I was enthralled by the literacy of his lyrics, and the depth of his sense of tradition musically. I didn’t get around to reading his bio for a couple of years, to be honest. When I did, I was more than pleasantly surprised to learn just how exceptionally talented and skilled David is. This record is a continuation of David’s love for American country, bluegrass, and folk music, following Joplin, MO. On his last wonderful release, Django Jazz (2007), David explored his passion for Django Reinhardt, and turned in one of the best roots-jazz records of the year. David also enjoys mixing it up when it comes to who is on the next record… the one constant being Duane Webster (bass)… and as indicated on the Who Played list… they’ve all got some major cred as players.
From David’s Myspace bio: 2009 EMMY AWARD WINNER IN COMPOSITION AND WRITING. Influenced by everything from gypsy jazz to folk, delta blues, swing, rockabilly, bluegrass & folk. As a singer-songwriter, David’s known for his way with words and melodies, which conjure up the American musical landscape. His songs touch on everything from the difficulties of love to the people and places along old Route 66, or a carnival from his childhood, or swing tunes reminiscent of Tin-Pan-Alley—in a wide range of CDs released over the last 30 years. In 2008, he was nominated for an Emmy in songwriting for his work for PBS. David has also recorded and performed with people such as Greg Brown and Dave Moore, and he studied and performed with the great Jethro Burns, of Homer and Jethro fame. He holds a Ph.D. in English, and he has been a writer in residence at a number of colleges and universities in the US. He is an ALA and NAPPA award-winning albums for children and is currently the songwriter for the PBS children’s show The Big Green Rabbit.
Gypsy Swing Revue “Some of These Days” from Some of These Days (2005)
Drag the River “Having A Party” from Bad At Breaking Up (2009)
John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light “In My Neighborhood” from Beautiful Empty (2009)
Megan Burtt “Get to the Bottom of This” from It Ain’t Love (2010)
Matt Morris “Don’t You Dare” from When Everything Breaks Open (2010)
The Congress “Minutes” from The Congress (2010)
Jen Korte & the Loss “It’s A Little Hard, Dear” from Jen Korte & the Loss (2009)
Motorhome “Radio” from Almost Vegas (2009)
Something Underground “Mr. Elephant” from We Came to Get Down (2008)
Other Side of Clearview “Sweet Release” from Sweet Release (2009)
Slim Cessna’s Auto Club “Children of the Lord” from Cipher (2008)
Quillion “New York Pill” from To the Hilt (2010)
Fred Hess “Happen Yesterday” from The Long and Short of It (2004)
Julie & Andy Monley “My Castle’s Rockin’” from And You Could Be The Sun (2008)
New – Chuck Pyle “Love Will Find A Way” from The Spaces In Between (2010)
Euforquestra “Soup” from Soup (2009)
The Jurassicasters “People Get Ready” from The Jurassicasters (2010)
Psychodelic Zombiez “Babaganouj” from S.A.C. (1996)
Old Soul “Oldest Religion” from Old Soul (1996)
Sixteen Horsepower “Black Soul Choir” from Sackcloth ‘n’ Ashes (1996)
New – Carbon Choir “Measure of Your Madness” from High Beams (2010)
Flashbulb Fires “Ambulance” from Glory (2009)
Romano Paoletti “Can You Run” from Story of a Lifetime (2009)
Great American Taxi “New Millennium Blues” from Reckless Habits (2010)
New – The Intervention Band “Groovin’ High” from Homey (2010)
Westword may have gotten the exclusive on the new Danielle Ate the Sandwich cd, coming out in the next couple of months – but there’s no law says we can’t promote it here too… ‘specially since Danielle posted this video peek on YouTube – featuring members of the wonderful Boulder Acoustic Society.
To read the Westword article -> http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2010/03/exclusive_details_on_the_new_d.php
To see more of Danielle’s magic videos -> http://www.youtube.com/daniellesmagic
(30 sec samples of one song from each release.)
The Knew – The Knew’s Pulperia
Genre/Style: rock, through and through.
Notes: A very guitar driven album and another fine 2010 release out of John Macy Studio in Denver on the heels of Andrea Ball – Dial Tone, The Congress – The Congress, and John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light – Beautiful Empty. The band displays the kind of full on frontal attack of a hard old school punk band with the swirling slide guitars and blues influences you’d expect to hear in more southern rock type styles …
Carbon Choir – High Beams
Genre/Style: Rock, post-rock, alternative adult
Notes: originally released December 2009, we just got this copy in the CS office. This is another very sophisticated contemporary adult listen for 2010. It’s very ethereal, very well orchestrated, beautifully arranged, and the performances throughout are among the best I’ve ever heard from a Colorado band at any level. There’s not a ton of tempo on this record; there doesn’t need to be. Recommended if you like Radiohead, though don’t expect to hear them wear that influence on their sleeve. This is a band not bound by any other imagination than their own. A sure early year contender for many “Best of Colorado 2010” lists.
The Intervention Band – Homey
Notes: this is drummer Bob Levey’s project. Bob’s history is extremely deep. Bob Levey is the son of Bop drummer Stan Levey who pioneered the original Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie groups in the mid 40’s and then went on to play with every major star in the music business from that period. He has played with an impressive array of names, and his work has also contributed to the world of Hip-Hop, most notably being sampled on the platinum selling “When the Shit Goes Down” by Cypress Hill and De La Soul’s “Intro” on the hit CD “Buhloone Mind State”. This is jazz – plain, simple, unobtrusive – think Johnny Mercer, Bill Evans, J.J. Johnson – all of whom he covers twice each on this record. The pianist and the bass player are young guys – in their early-mid twenties… they are very tasty players – very smooth and mature sounding in the traditions they’re playing to. Tim Fox plays piano on four of the selections, as well as trumpet throughout the album. For some strange reason I recall George Shearing in his work – but then, this was the kind of jazz my Dad used to play when I was a little kid, so maybe it’s just those memories coming to mind… I don’t know. But count me in – this is a great listen… from start to finish.
Chuck Pyle – The Spaces in Between
Genre/Style: Western Pop Folk
Notes: It’s Chuck Pyle. The man is a Colorado legend. Chuck’s songs have been recorded by John Denver, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Suzy Bogguss. Country fans know him best for writing, “Cadillac Cowboy”, recorded by the late Chris LeDoux, and “Jaded Lover”, recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker. This album is as full of the gracefulness of storytelling as he’s ever done. It’s wonderfully produced by John McVey at Coupe Studios in Boulder. The musicianship is stellar throughout.
I’m in the midst of an online debate with some old friends from various parts of the US and Europe about “production” vs. “song” as those things relate to mainstream acceptability – and radio airplay. While adding an IMO to the thread, I begin listening to the songs posted on the Jonny Woodrose & The Broken-Hearted Woodpeckers Myspace page. Jonny Woodrose had emailed me a few days ago to invite me to listen. The first song shocks me. It’s one of those moments when you sit and think, “is this something great or something horrendous?” I’m maybe four songs into “Live From The Garage” and I’m sold.
I’m old enough to remember some of the weird experiments of the 60s and 70s when every single rule was broken and then broken again, just to see how many rules could be broken. This “album” is a riot in the grandest lyrical traditions of Shel Silverstein’s “Freaking at the Freakers’ Ball,” with a hit and miss vocal performance and lo-fi garage production quality to match any early Dylan record… you can throw in some early Bright Eyes recordings for some modern relevence if you want. This is not to say that I like everything here… as is the case with so many band Myspace pages, there’s some stuff there that I do cringe at – especially the instrumental “Broken Hearted Assholes,” the epitomy of a garage band jam, which brought an end to my listening… with one exception… I went back and relistened to the “Curse of Luann Lilly.”
Maybe it’s because of the alternative country rock vibe emoted throughout the album that this song would bring comparisons to some of the more experimental Wilco stuff… but really – it’s much more like what I remember as a teenager in the late sixties when so many garage bands experimented with mind expanding drugs, three major chords, layers and layers of noise and distortion, along with whatever vocal expression came along. Take that, adding in healthy doses of tongue in cheek political psychedelic country-folk-rock of bands like Country Joe & the Fish, and you get pretty damn close to the flashback I just encountered.
This is raw, unaffected, noisy music with plenty of witty adult sophisticated humor and spirit … and it has perfectly abducted my ears, brain, and heart from listening to anything more mundane and properly produced for this cloudy Sunday afternoon.
Gabrielle Louise – Strange Summer Snow – new single that she has made available for free download on her site http://gabriellelouise.com/albums.html. In her email this morning she says she’s hitting the studio in April to record a new album. She’s been down in Argentina the past few months, so it’ll be nice to hear some new material from Gabrielle. Enjoy.
Tage Planetell – Don’t Worry About Me — See Tage’s website at http://www.tageplantell.com/ to download this single for free from his new album.