Readers’ Pick: Different Shades Of Blue by Joe Bonamassa

You picked Different Shades Of Blue by Joe Bonamassa as your favorite for the week of September 23, 2014.

Readers’ Top Picks (last 4 weeks)

  1. Single Mothers by Justin Townes Earle (13) [9/9]
  2. Somewhere Under Wonderland by Counting Crows (10) [9/2]
  3. Ryan Adams by Ryan Adams (9) [9/9]
  4. Step Back by Johnny Winter (9) [9/2]
  5. Different Shades Of Blue by Joe Bonamassa (7) [9/23]
  6. Reasonable Amount of Trouble by Jesse Winchester (5) [9/9]
  7. Home Is Where the Hurt Is by Jp Harris & The Tough Choices (4) [9/23]
  8. Shine for All The People by Mike Farris (4) [9/9]
  9. Plain Spoken by John Mellencamp (3) [9/23]
  10. Live My Life by Sena Ehrhardt (3) [9/2]

Don’t forget to vote in our weekly poll to help us make this list.

Monday Morning Video: A Premiere from Dom Flemons

There has been some debate recently about what is and what isn’t Americana. Whether you lean towards a broad definition or one that is tightly constrained, I think we can all agree that folks like Dom Flemons are the real deal. The Carolina Chocolate Drops co-founder, now performing as a solo artist, comes across as simultaneously a student and a teacher of the rich musical heritage of the American south. His songs ring out with unquestionable authenticity as well as a passion for ensuring its endurance and continued recognition.

Prospect Hill, Flemon’s latest release, is filled with *true* Americana. Across fourteen tracks — a mix of originals, covers and traditionals passed down over generations — he builds on the true legacy of American music.

We’re proud to premiere this new performance video of “I Can’t Do It Anymore.” Says Flemons about the song and performance, “This song was written a few years back. I wanted to get a nice early R&B/ rock ‘n’ roll sound. Glad to have Dante Pope on the drums and Brian Farrow on the bass.”

Catch Flemons and some true Americana live on the East Coast and Midwest this fall. Dates here.

E.G. Kight – A New Day

E.G. Kight’s is a unique voice in contemporary music.  Her heartfelt, gospel and country-tinged blues blend American traditions into a toe-tapping good time.  Her latest album, A New Day, demonstrates what her dedicated following has known since the late 90s – that she is a special talent.

Though Georgia native Kight grew up listening to old time country music like Hank Williams and Patsy Cline and singing gospel in church, it is said she discovered her true calling upon listening to “queen of the blues” Koko Taylor as a teen.  Since the 1990s, the guitarist and vocalist has been writing and playing the blues, and she survived a serious illness to continue on making music.

A New Day is the eighth album to be released by Kight.  Kight wrote or co-wrote all the songs, with co-writing credits for five tunes going to Tom Horner and one each to the late Ann Rabson (Uppity Blues Women) and Lisa Biales.  Album highlights include “Holdin’ On,” “Graveyard Dead Blues,” “Don’t Give Up,” “Bad Times” (a duet with Greg Nagy), and “Low Mileage Woman.”  For the album Kight was joined by Gary Porter on drums, Johnny Fountain on bass, Ken Wynn on guitar and Mike Harrell on keyboards along with guest appearances by album producer Paul Hornsby on keyboards, Tommy Talton on guitar and Nagy. 

Audio Stream: E.G. Kight, “Don’t Give Up”

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Mayer’s Playlist for Sept 2014, Part 2

ALBUMS OF THE MONTH

Swimmin’ Time, by Shovels and Rope

Shovels and Rope

Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent — aka Shovels and Rope — just keep getting better and better. Swimmin’ Time takes their customary percussive guitar and drums and expands their musical palette with piano, horns and a host of other instruments. The result is something special.

The duo push at genre classifications across this thirteen-song collection. “Bridge on Fire,” while still grounded in Americana, is a perfect pop confection. A prominent piano joins their brilliant harmonies to give the song an extra sugary crunch. That combination continues on “Coping Mechanism,” which has a fun 1950’s feel.

Surly guitars give “Evil” a dark edge while “Ohio” has a heavy New Orleans vibe, right down the mid-song Bourbon Street brass horn interlude.

“After the Storm” has an epic quality to it. The song opens gently but soon explodes with Hearst and Trent’s emotionally charged vocals. The lyrics describe a quest for redemption from past wrongs despite the recognition that these same failures still stand in the way.

Like the widest river // Like the brightest morn // There is hope where you can’t see it // There is a light after the storm

But won’t you help me to get through it // I’ve been flailing like a child // My mistakes they are so many // For my weary heart is wild

The duo round out the album with “Mary Ann and One-Eyed Dan” and “Save the World,” a pair of stripped-down songs that hearken back to the group’s rootsy early days. All the better to enjoy the charm of their singing and songwriting.


THE PLAYLIST


I’m In Love with Everything, The Fauntleroys (from the Plowboy Records release Below the Pink Pony)

In this case, the album title is as real as it is descriptive. Four musicians – friends and admirers of one another’s work – gathered in a room below a former NYC restaurant called the Pink Pony to bash out their debut release. The results are at once cohesive yet reflective of each artist’s individual personality. Alejandro Escovedo brings an appreciation for 1970’s British blues-based rock, Ivan Julian lends his punk pedigree, Nicholas Tremulis contributes his eccentric pop-rock feel (“Suck My Heart Out with a Straw” is one of his contributions) and Linda Pitmon adds her powerhouse drumming.

Audio Download: The Fauntleroys, “I’m In Love with Everything”

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All That We Have Is Now, Jesse Winchester (from the Appleseed Recordings release A Reasonable Amount of Trouble)

Although we lost Jesse Winchester earlier this year, he left us with a new album that was completed just prior to his passing. Winchester possessed a genuine and gentle spirit as well as an insightful lyrical eye, both of which are sharply evident here. The twelve tracks on A Reasonable Amount of Trouble, nine originals and three covers, are a reminder of his musical allure.


The Archivist, American Gun (from the Jangly Records release Promised Youth)

In the interest of full disclosure, American Gun’s Todd Mathis is a long-time contributor to Twangville. Don’t hold that against him, though. Mathis also happens to be a talented songwriter. After releasing the rootsy Please… Don’t Tread On Me (recorded with Whiskey Tango Revue) last year, Mathis rejoins his American Gun compatriots for the bruising Promised Youth.

As is the group’s style, they let their electric guitars lead the charge. This go-around, however, finds them adding some synthesizers and strings to give the music added density. The result is a rock record with a dark and brooding vibe. Here, for your listening enjoyment, is the tale of a woman who has given up on love.

Audio Stream: American Gun, “The Archivist”

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Love Song #9, Scruffy the Cat (from the Omnivore Records release The Good Goodbye: Unreleased Recordings 1984-1990)

I shared a vintage video of the late, great Scruffy the Cat a few weeks ago (here). It was either a great introduction or a welcome reminder of the band’s infectious energy.

This new collection of previously unreleased tracks offers a fun glimpse into the band’s creative arc. Starting with their rough early recordings through to their late era sessions at legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, it showcases the charm in their songwriting and the unbridled enthusiasm in their performances. Give a listen to early tracks like the boisterous “Big Fat Monkey’s Hat” and the more slickly produced but no less spirited later output like “Love Song #9″ and you’ll hear what I mean.


Sure Thing, Sam Morrow (from the Forty Below Records release Ephemeral)
My introduction to this LA by way of Texas singer was his somber cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” that was released earlier this year. His debut album proves that Morrow stands tall in his own rite, thank you. There is both warmth and world-weariness in his music, all the more impressive given that Morrow is still in his early 20s. Restrained arrangements, often infused with subtle strings, give the songs additional depth.


Got Caught Up, Pete Donnelly (from the self-released Face the Bird)

I’m a sucker for a good pop song. Fortunately for me (and maybe you, too), Pete Donnelly’s got a catalog that is filled with ‘em. Donnelly has an impressive resume — he is founding member of the Figgs and has also logged more than a few miles with the Candy Butchers and NRBQ. As if that weren’t enough, he has also released a couple of mighty fine solo albums. Check out this gem, co-written with Shelby Lynne, from his most recent release. Man, those horns!

Rob Stone – Gotta Keep Rollin’

Rob Stone plays good, honest blues.  A Boston native, harpist Stone followed a straight-forward style in the Chicago electric blues tradition on Gotta Keep Rollin’.  Stone’s tight band his has put together a first-class seRob Stonelection of rollicking tunes that is sure to enhance their growing reputation in the blues world.

Stone has been leading his own outfit – once called the “C-Notes” – since the late 1990s.  Previous offerings included No Worries in 1998, Just My Luck in 2003 and Back Around Here in 2010.  The group has played styles ranging from jazzy jump blues to the Chicago electric blues of Gotta Keep Rollin’.  The song selection on Gotta Keep Rollin’ is solid top to bottom, but highlights include “Lucky 13,” “Anything Can Happen,” “Move Baby Move,” “Strolling with Sasquatch” and the rousing closer “Not No Mo.”

To accomplish the polished electric blues sound on Gotta Keep Rollin’, Stone was joined by longtime bandmates guitarist Chris James and bassist Patrick Rynn, both of whom played with Stone in former Paul Butterfield Blues Band drummer Sam Lay’s band in the 1990s.  More than just sidemen, James and Rynn co-wrote all the originals on the album.  Stone also had some help from Boston-area pianist David Maxwell, a former sideman to James Cotton and Otis Rush whose own back catalogue of critically acclaimed work includes 2012’s inspired Blues In Other Colors, and slide-guitar ace John Primer, a former Muddy Waters and Magic Slim sideman who came into his own in the 1990s. 

Audio Stream: Rob Stone, “Anything Can Happen”

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