For their spring and summer 2016 tours, the Band Of Heathens are offering a five-song limited edition EP, Green Grass. The title track of the EP, “Green Grass of California,” is a timely tongue-in-cheek marijuana anthem. “The issue of legalization has become both a ballot issue and a hot topic of discussion around the water cooler, so I like the idea of pushing it a little bit and getting involved in the discussion,” says Ed Jurdi. We’ve been playing that song live and it’s something that everyone’s been talking about with us after the show, so it’s connecting and is something that is on people’s minds.” The Green Grass EP premieres four new BOH originals and a faithful cover of The Band’s “Bessie Smith,” featuring Joe Fletcher.
Ten albums into an already acclaimed career, STEPHEN SIMMONS sharpens his rootsy folk-rock with A World Without, a record that mixes the twang of country music – a genre that provided the soundtrack for his childhood in small-town Tennessee – with the sharp observations of a singer/songwriter and the stomp of rural, roadhouse rock & roll.
A road warrior with an audience on both sides of the Atlantic, Simmons has spent most of his adulthood on stage, playing songs in ten different countries along the way. Recorded with members of his touring band, A World Without explores a life lived on the run, taking a look at the intersection between art, commerce, love, and travel. The songs are equal parts biography and fiction, with Simmons shining a light on those who travel and create for a living. There are tracks about Americans crossing the country during the Gold Rush, about puritans making a voyage overseas, about lovers becoming parents, and about Simmons himself.
A World Without also features harmony vocals from his father, uncle, and sister, a move that allows Simmons to pay tribute to the family members who’ve inspired his career. It’s an album that hits close to home in more ways than one. Contributions from his longtime band members – including keyboardist Molly Jewell, guitarist Dave Coleman, pedal steel guitarist Alex McCullough, drummer Tim Blankenship, bassist Duane Blevins and producer/utility player Eric Fritsch – provide the backdrop for Simmons‘ voice, an alt-country croon inspired by everyone from Don Williams to Bruce Springsteen.
Another big thing from Austin TX: THE SOUTH AUSTIN MOONLIGHTERS return full force with Ghost Of A Small Town!
The Blue Rose label has always had a strong affinity for Texas-style roots, country and Americana rock! After the Resentments, the Band of Heathens, Deadman and Shurman, the South Austin Moonlighters are another hopeful signing in a string of excellent bands from the Texan capital. Over the years the South Austin Moonlighters – S.A.M. to their fans – have acquired a home state reputation as a formidable live act that made its way to the European scene after their very promising debut album Burn & Shine was released two years ago. The quartet is now delivering on this promise big time with Ghost Of A Small Town. Four excellent musicians, all of them songwriters and lead singers, have made what is possibly the most mature, varied and interesting genre album of 2016 so far – not only in Austin! Texas music rocks!
The story of the band starts in March 2011 when Lonnie Trevino Jr., Phil Bass, Josh Zee and Phil Hurley – four experienced professional musicians – became friends at the Sin City showcase during the yearly SXSW music festival. Soon they started hatching plans to get together outside of their other bands & projects Mother Truckers/Whiskey Sisters, Deadman and Stonehoney. Soon this loose pet project became a tight unit with concrete plans. They developed a repertoire, started booking gigs and writing songs. As early as SXSW 2012 talent scouts started taking note. After a privately released live CD (from the Saxon Pub, of course), Blue Rose released their studio debut in early 2014. With its stylistic variety, strong songs and great performances Burn & Shine was a great success and a statement of Texamericana Rock for this time!
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At not even 18 years old William Harries Graham is by far the youngest artist ever on Blue Rose Records. He is one of the young hopefuls and carriers of the torch on the vibrant Austin, TX scene where he mingles with the more experienced heroes who are not ready to turn it in just yet. On some level he is a veteran of the scene himself as the son of singer-songwriter, guitarist and „character“ Jon Dee Graham and community college teacher Gretchen Harries. After all he first got his hands on a guitar at age two, had his first live appearance at age seven and was the subject of a special benefit project – collecting money for treatment of a rare disease he was suffering from – shortly thereafter. William has battled Legg Perthes since he was 7 years old, started the Painted Redstarts at age 13 and honed his guitar-driven, passionate indie rock sound in countless live gigs up and down 6th Street and South Congress Avenue. Foreign Fields is the title of his strong studio debut – a successful start into a promising career.
Practically from the time he was born, William Harries Graham was a part of his father’s musical life, accompanying him on tours, meeting musicians and rock stars until anything else than a career in music seemed improbable. The rare children’s disease Legg-Perthes stunted the growth of his hip bones – and the medical costs were enormous. But the Austin community pulled together in the summer of 2005 with local top acts contributing to the Continental Club concert and the following CD/DVD release of Big Sweet Life which contained Jon Dee Graham’s songs covered by James McMurtry, Alejandro Escovedo, the Resentments, the Gourds, Patty Griffin, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Charlie Sexton, Kelly Willis, Bob Schneider and many more. Blue Rose had also started a campaign to collect money for William’s treatments which raised € 5,000.
For more than 18 years Frankfurt/Germany-born Markus Rill has been proving that you don’t necessarily need American genes to write & sing authentic, first-rate folk & country songs. Germany’s finest and most consistent Americana artist is winning over an ever-expanding audience with his multitude of projects, has earned great international recognition, and has still stayed true to himself in his desire to evolve as an artist. It should come as no surprise then that his tenth album of original songs raises the bar yet again. Dream Anyway is an amazingly varied album with crisp and brilliant sound that presents a mature musician with deeply moving songs and rock’n’roll appeal at the height of his musical prowess.
Aside from playing hundreds of concerts in Germany and the rest of Europe over the last five years, Rill released a string of strong albums: First Wild Blue & True on Blue Rose in 2011, a convincing Americana & songwriter album with rock elements, then the duo album Light & Dark with Swedish new folk artist Annika Fehling with quiet, introverted acoustic alt.folk. It was followed in early 2013 by the powerful My Rocket Ship on Blue Rose, explicitly labeled as a band album with The Troublemakers, and before Christmas of the same year Late Night Drive, a satisfying, mostly acoustic self-released solo album. 2014 saw the release of Heart & Soul & Rock’n’Roll, an ambitious trio recording with his friends Hubert Treml and Franz Schuier in tribute of Bruce Springsteen. In the spring of 2015, Rill released the extensive box set The Nashville Recordings featuring the three sold-out albums he recorded with Nashville’s finest, Hobo Dream (2004), The Price Of Sin (2006) and The Things That Count (2007).
And now here’s Dream Anyway which combines the best aspects of Wild Blue & True (singer-songwriter, Americana, folk, roots) and My Rocket Ship (team play, roots rock, rock’n’roll) and brings them to a new level. Clearly, Markus Rill has found the key to clearer melodies, hookier choruses and catchier riffs. In a better world you might even speak of „“hit potential““ … Moreover, the (reshuffled) Troublemakers are a remarkable outfit with a wide array of instrumental and vocal abilities – no outside contributions were necessary for this album which was recorded in only eight days at 7V studios in Bockenem/Germany.
The opener „“Something Great““ indicates that Dream Anyway is Markus Rill most extroverted and – for a good part – most rock album. It is nothing less than a brilliant heartland rock track between Mellencamp and Springsteen with lyrical allusions to small town mentality and his band, The Troublemakers, who hit the ground running. It is followed by „“Walk On Water““, a catchy folk rock song with humorous lyrics about life’s little lies („“I love you forever unless I don’t““) while „“The Pauper’s Daughter““ is a gently building folk song that describes how dreams are born and sometimes given up. Keyboarder/accordionist Manuela Huber is the featured female backing singer. Huber and lead guitarist Marco Hohner often provide exquisite harmony vocals – a feature for which Rill had to resort to outside help before, now an important nuance in the band’s sound.
Like on his last albums, Rill does not shy away from unusual and difficult topics. „“Caroline’s Confession““ deals with the challenge of living in celibacy and the doubts arising in the face of temptation. This number derives tension from the juxtaposition of accordion & banjo versus two electric guitars, culminating in Hohner’s ferocious outro solo. Later on, in the storyteller-ballad „“Losing My Mind““ an Alzheimer patient describes the effects of the advancing disease in unadorned realism. „“Over Long Ago““ is accompanied by gentle piano chords, upright bass and gently brushed drums while lap steel shimmers in the background, time seems to be standing still – this musical setting fits the story of trying to live with child abuse … And in ‚Some Democracy‘ Rill’s bitter critique of today’s politics is mirrored in dark, banjo-drenched Americana-folk.
„““There’s a lot going on in this world between the good, the bad and the in-between, and this album attempts to ride some of those horses,““ Willie Nile says of his memorably-titled new album World War Willie, due out April 8, 2016 on Blue Rose Records exclusively for Europe.
The dozen-song set lives up to Nile’s reputation as a world-class songwriter, a singularly energetic performer and a true rock ’n‘ roll believer. Currently in the fourth decade of a recording career that’s yielded a panoply of musical riches, the New York-bred artist is currently experiencing an exciting renaissance at a time when many of his contemporaries are winding down or giving up.
„“This past year has certainly been the busiest and most rewarding one yet, with so many satisfying shows and the completion of this new album,““ he states.
Indeed, 2015 saw Nile achieve a series of high-profile milestones. For instance, early in the year, Bruce Springsteen joined Willie and band to perform the Nile anthem „“One Guitar““ during a Light of Day benefit show in Asbury Park, N.J. A few months later, Nile was invited to sing with the Who and Springsteen at a Grammy/Musicares event honoring Pete Townshend in Manhattan’s Times Square. That summer, the Voice of America chose Nile’s composition „“This Is Our Time““ (from 2013’s American Ride) as the title and theme song of an event in Washington, D.C., in which Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai spoke forcefully about empowering women.
American Ride became one of Nile’s most acclaimed releases to date, topping numerous critics‘ year-end best-of lists and being voted „“Best Rock Album of the Year““ by the Independent Music Awards.
World War Willie lives up to that standard with some of the most resonant songwriting and performances of Nile’s career. He recorded the album with longtime producer Stewart Lerman (Antony and the Johnsons, Loudon Wainwright III, Boardwalk Empire) and Nile’s longstanding band – Matt Hogan on lead guitar, Johnny Pisano on bass and Alex Alexander on drums – with additional sterling guest guitar from Steuart Smith (Eagles, Rosanne Cash) on three tracks.
„“There’s a live feel to the tracks because we captured an actual performance on every one,““ Nile says. „“The band and I have done so many shows together that our instincts all seem to arrive at the same intersection at the same time. We all play and feel as one, and there’s an energy there that you can’t manufacture.““
World War Willie’s title and cover motif reflect the turbulent state of the world as seen through Nile’s eyes, with a characteristic blend of sincerity and humor.
„It’s a tough old world out there,“ he says, adding, „“The cover shot of me standing in front of an image of Dresden after it was bombed in World War II was taken at a club in Italy, outside of Verona. That riveting image of a world at war just spoke volumes to me about the human race. It left me speechless. What can you say about it that isn’t right there in front of you? Surely we can do better than this. For me rock ’n‘ roll, at its best, helps to make some sense of the world. There can be a redemptive quality in it. I guess it’s me trying to make some sense of the world with rock n roll. It also reminds me of the good old days at CBGB’s in NYC.“
World War Willie embodies the distinctive mix of urgency, introspection, idealism and self-effacing humor that’s long endeared Willie Nile to his admirers.
The opening track, „Forever Wild,“ pays tribute to the transformative power of rock ’n‘ roll, while the anthemic „Let’s All Come Together“ is a persuasive call for planetary unity, and „Trouble Down in Diamond Town“ is a prime example of Nile’s flair for cinematic storytelling. „Runaway Girl“ and „Beautiful You“ demonstrate the artist’s knack for intimate balladry. And „World War Willie,“ „Hell Yeah“ and „Citibank Nile“ demonstrate his knack for pointed, tongue-in-cheek humor. The playful „Grandpa Rocks,“ meanwhile, is a wickedly humorous declaration of longterm devotion to Nile’s chosen profession.
„I have four grandchildren,“ Nile notes. „It’s a total gas and I totally embrace it. Rock ’n‘ roll is rock ’n‘ roll, whether you’re 16 or 86. If it feels good and soothes the soul and gets the hips shakin‘ and gets the mind turnin‘, then you’ve got somethin‘ worth singin‘ about. I won’t be tied down by anybody else’s perception of what’s doable. Life it too short, and if Grandpa wants to rock, let him rock!“
Elsewhere on World War Willie, „When Levon Sings“ pays fond tribute to the musical and personal spirit of the Band’s Levon Helm, and Nile pays tribute to another departed icon with a bracing reading of Lou Reed’s Velvet Underground classic „Sweet Jane.“ The latter track was inspired by a memorable meeting with Reed ten days prior to his death.
Reed was in good company among Willie Nile’s loyal fan base. That group includes the aforementioned Springsteen, with whom Nile’s guested onstage on several occasions, and Pete Townshend, who requested him as the opening act on the Who’s 1982 U.S. tour. The list of avowed Nile fans also encompasses Bono, Paul Simon, Ian Hunter, Graham Parker, Jim Jarmusch, Adam Duritz, Little Steven and Lucinda Williams, who remarked, „Willie Nile is a great artist. If there was any justice in this world, I’d be opening up for him instead of him for me.“
The critics agree. „USA Today“ described him as „a rocker’s rocker,“ and „The New Yorker“ dubbed him „one of the most brilliant singer-songwriters of the past thirty years.“ „The London Times“ called him „a man who embodies the true spirit of rock ’n‘ roll,“ while England’s „Uncut“ described him as „a one-man Clash“ and „New York’s unofficial poet laureate.“ And „The Morton Report“ praised him for „crossing the power of the Clash with the social consciousness of Woody Guthrie.“ Or, as „Blurt“ recently put it, „Nile remains at the high point of his career – living for every moment, tirelessly reminding the listener that all he’s ever really cared about is his undying passion for the music he both lives and loves … Exceptional release upon exceptional release – each packed with street-smart, original material – has kept pace with changing times and evolving tastes.“
Now, with World War Willie adding an exciting new chapter to his body of work, Willie Nile plans to continue doing what he’s always done: getting back out on the road and rocking.
„I’ve hit a good groove these days,“ he asserts. „I’m enjoying the writing, the recording and the live shows more than ever. This is what I was looking for when I first started my musical journey. I’m very grateful that I get to do what I love to do and as long as the fire burns I won’t be stopping any time soon.“
„What started out as fun is working in the end…, now I’m a working man, the guitar is my tool.““ Once again Dutch singer-songwriter-guitarist Ad Vanderveen finds simple, precise lines to tell complex stories. „“Working““ is an example of his autobiographical songs that frequently talk about his love of music and his life as a musician. The Stellar Cellar Band features ten strong songs with reflections on life – one of this exceptional songwriter’s main qualities. In 20 years and on almost as many albums Vanderveen has established himself as a creative force to be reckoned with on the Americana scene in Europe and outside. This time around, he chose a different approach than on the highly lauded, predominantly quiet double album Presents Of The Past/Requests Revisited. Vanderveen recorded The Stellar Cellar Band with two old friends in a powerful trio format. The result is passionate, no-frills rock’n’roll mixed with folk, country and blues and a garage-y vibe, recorded at the place where he took the first steps in his career, at the Stellar Cellar in Amsterdam.
Since the early 90s, Ad Vanderveen – who has Canadian blood in his family – has been spreading his musical message throughout the European club scene and the world since the early 90s. This fall he will be 60 years old. In 2003 he joined Blue Rose Records with The Moment That Matters and continued with mile marker albums like Still Now (2008), Days Of The Greats (2011), Driven By A Dream (2012) and last year’s Presents Of The Past/Requests Revisited. On Blue Rose Ad Vanderveen, along with his colleagues Hank Shizzoe, Markus Rill and Iain Matthews, is one of the most important European proponents of American singer-songwriter culture with a propensity for roots rock and rock’n’roll.
Paradise is an album about longing and desire and the ways in which the pursuit of fulfillment can keep it perpetually out of our reach a concept showcased on the album cover in the image of a mule and carrot. The album is the Wood Brothers most sophisticated work to date and also their most rocking, with bassist Chris Wood playing electric on tracks for the first time. Recorded at Dan Auerbach s Easy Eye studio in Nashville, Paradise captures the latest chapter in the ongoing evolution of a band and a family navigating the
joy and challenges of a life in music.
Dubbed masters of soulful folk by Paste, The Wood Brothers released their debut studio album, Ways Not To Lose, on Blue Note in 2006. Chris Wood already had legions of devoted fans for his incomparable work as one-third of Medeski Martin & Wood, while his brother Oliver toured with Tinsley Ellis before releasing a half-dozen albums with his band King Johnson. Almost a decade later and with drummer Jano Rix added as a permanent third member, it s become quite clear that The Wood Brothers is indeed the main act.
Paradise follows the band s acclaimed 2013 release The Muse, which was hailed by the New York Times for gripping vocals and by the LA Times for taught musicianship. Though both The Muse and Paradise were recorded in Nashville, Paradise marks the first album written with the entire band living in Music City.
No, the legendary Silos have not been buried! It’s just that from time to time their frontman has a mind to release material that may not be a perfect fit for the band or otherwise different under his own name: Walter Salas-Humara! The name is as unique as the man! More than 30 years ago this very versatile artist came on the scene as the mastermind of alt.country-rock pioneers The Silos. Since then he has not only kept this cult band alive as a vital creative force with a sizeable output but also worked on numerous other interesting and far-ranging projects. In the summer of 2014 Blue Rose released Curve & Shake, his first solo album in 18 years. And now here’s the next one, Work: Part One. It features new versions of important songs from his long career. Work: Part One consists of re-imaginings of material originally recorded for the first three successful Silos albums – very different acoustic versions, tailor-made for the current alt.folk/Americana scene.
The Silos from New York with songwriter, guitarist and singer Walter Salas-Humara as their creative heart were – starting in 1985 – one of those critics‘ darlings bands – like Velvet Underground, the later Byrds, Television, the Feelies or Green On Red – who were ahead of their time or just too good to sell as much of their eminently influential music as they deserved. They stood for sensitive, intelligent, hooky, American indie-pop-goes-alt.country-rock of major league quality. No wonder the critics loved them and there was nary a year-end best list without the Silos. The 90s were dominated by Walter Salas-Humara’s restlessness and hunger for experiment. He moved from New York to L.A. to Austin which led to stylistic shifts and rotating band personnel. With alt.country, No Depression and Americana booming, the Silos became one band among many and had to re-establish their status as frontrunners of the genre. They succeeded in doing so with a string of popular albums on Blue Rose between 2001 and 2006 and again in 2011 with the excellent Florizona. This was followed by the solo album Curve And Shake. Walter Salas-Humara cemented his status as an important indie musician and darling of the Alt-Americana/No Depression scene.
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