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'EP' THE EXTENDED PLAY SESSIONS

adam ezra on the extended play sessionsThe connection between Adam Ezra, his band and whatever audience he happens to be entertaining is matched by few performers on today's music scene. The consummate entertainer, songwriter and band leader has been at the top of the Boston music scene for over a decade and has steadily built a national following through a relentless touring schedule. His sidekick and percussionist, Turtle, has been with him since Adam Ezra first started  with keyboardist Josh Gold joining soon after. A series of successful, critically acclaimed albums under their belt the band continues to electrify their fans with each live performance. Recent additions, Corina Smith on fiddle and Francis Hickey on bass along with stalwart drummer Alex Martin round out the sextet. This is one of the most memorable performances for The Extended Play Sessions and one we're grateful to have had the opportunity to experience.


 

girls guns and glory on alternate root tvThis week's show features Boston alt-country rockers Girls Guns and Glory. The Alternate Root ranked Girls Guns and Glory as one of the Top 5 Bands in Boston and one of the Top 35 Bands in the U.S. Their rise has been meteoric since the arrival of guitar ace Chris Hersch to compliment the unmistakable voice of front man Ward Hayden. Girls Guns and Glory have been significant all along but the tandem of Hayden and Hersch along with the powerhouse rhythm section of Paul Dilley and Josh Kiggens have brought the band to a new level. Their latest album, 'Sweet Nothings' was one of the Top Albums of 2012 receiving a ton of critical acclaim. The band came into Alternate Root TV Studios to open for the Del-Lords.





 

the band of heathens on alternate root tvA lot has gone on in the lives of Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist over the past year. The co-founders of the Band of Heathens went through a near complete line-up change, fatherhood, moving from Austin and a host of other life shifting changes. During that span they wrote the most compelling and musically poignant album in the band's history, Sunday Morning Record. Touring with a new band and a brilliant new record has placed them right back at the top of the most important bands to carry the roots/Americana torch. Taking one of the best and most dynamic live shows and stripping it down to accommodate the small Alternate Root TV Studios was something the band, the audience and we, at Alternate Root TV, thoroughly enjoyed. "It's a great thing you have going on here," Gordy Quist mentioned, "taking this industrial space and turning it into a cool jazz club and inviting us in to play is pretty cool." We agree. The Band of Heathens performed the first side of the new album Sunday Morning Record for a small audience of fans and Alternate Root TV viewers in the very intimate setting of our Boston studio. "This was as close to a musical "religious" experience as I've had in some time." Bill Hurley, Producer, Alternate Root TV.

 

leftover salmon the extended play sessionsFor nearly three decades Leftover Salmon has been creating their own brand of music combining bluegrass, Cajun, country rock, blues and Rocky Mountain soul. There have been many changes in personnel along the way but the core of Vince Herman on guitar and Drew Emmitt on mandolin has remained solid and the addition of Andy Thorn on banjo has brought the Leftover Salmon sound to a new pinnacle. Back on the road after a host of successful side projects, Leftover Salmon has returned with a new-found vengeance and have reclaimed their spot at the top of the jam band circuit. The stopped into Alternate Root TV Studios on September 14 to tape the 'EP' Extended Play Sessions that will air on Monday September 23rd.



 

royal southern brotherhood on alternate root tvRoots, soul supergroup Royal Southern Brotherhood graced the stage at the Alternate Root TV studio in Boston to film this week's edition of 'EP' The Extended Play Sessions in front of a packed room of fans on August 26, 2013. Devon Allman (guitar), Mike Zito (guitar), Cyril Neville (percussion), Charlie Wooton (bass) and Yonrico Scott (drums) are all musicians of distinguished pedigree that bring together elements of blues, jazz, funk, soul and Gulf Coast rhythms to create some of the most sophisticated and complex music on the roots / Americana circuit. This set was one of the best we've ever had the pleasure of filming. This rich, soul and funk infused collection of songs appear on the debut album Royal Southern Brotherhood and the band performed a stripped down, intimate version for Alternate Root TV with some great commentary about music today, songwriting and being in one of the best bands in the world today.



 

peter mulvey on alternate root tvFor over two decades Peter Mulvey has been creating and perfecting a progressive blend of folk and indie rock music. He combines elements of rock, jazz and intelligent pop melodies with profound stories that penetrate the depths of the human condition. His music transcends the "folk" tag assigned as part of the Boston folk revival of the 1990's, foregoing traditions in favor of a more incendiary, percussive style of guitar playing and ethereal song crafting. Peter Mulvey is a master songwriter and musician and a consummate professional. He stopped by Alternate Root TV studios to film this week's edition of 'EP'-The Extended Play Sessions and it's one of the best shows of the year so far.





 

marcia ball extended playFor four decades the Queen of the boogie-woogie piano, Marcia Ball, has been gracing the stage worldwide. She's one the top female blues performers in the world, bringing the New Orleans/Mississippi Delta style to her unique brand of music. "It's what I know," she says, "I've been playing most of my life and I've been very fortunate." Marcia is also an activist, advocating for health care for musicians through the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and a similar program in her adopted hometown of Austin, TX. She also lends her voice to projects to reclaim the Louisiana wetlands and restoring New Orleans. In this week's edition of Extended Play she talks about her music, Irma Thomas, the plight of the wetlands and gives us a fabulous set of New Orleans style blues.



 

shannon mcnally on alternate root tvShannon McNally and her band Hot Sauce stopped by the Alternate Root TV studio in Norwood, MA to perform a set from the recently released album "Small Town Talk" A Tribute to the Music of Bobby Charles. Charles was one of the most prolific purveyors of the New Orleans sound from the 1950's through the last decade and the album, produced by Dr. John and Shannon McNally, is a brilliant tribute to one of the great songwriters of our time. Shannon McNally is one of the top female vocalists on the Americana/Roots music landscape, a great writer and immensely talented performer with an equally powerful backing combo featuring Will Sexton (guitar), Matt Hubbard (keyboards, trombone), Jake Fussell (bass) and Wallace Lester (drums). This four song set and words from Shannon is some of the hottest music we've had on Alternate Root TV this year!

 

gracie curran and the high falutin' bandGracie Curran has been featured on the Alternate Root lists for Top Female American Roots Vocalist, Top Roots Soul Acts and Top Bands in Boston and for good reason...she's a dynamic singer with a powerhouse voice. A blend of soul, blues, gospel and rock, she and her band mates, the High Falutin' Band defy description except for being a band to watch in the future. The sound revolves around Gracie's soulful voice and the solid guitar chops of Tommy Carroll with the strong rhythm section of Geoff Murfitt ion bass and Derek Bergman on drums, round out the quartet. The band ripped through a set of music from their debut album "Proof of Love" for this week's edition of "EP" - Extended Play on Alternate Root TV.




 

luke winslow-king on alternate root tv Call it a New Orleans gumbo of delta blues, traditional jazz, gospel and soul if you need a definition. New Orleans based Luke Winslow-King is a traditionalist that finds his musical soul melding musical styles nearly a century old with a contemporary improvisational approach. A master bottleneck slide guitarist with a vintage voice, his music is fresh, fun and infectious. He's joined on Extended Play by Esther Rose on washboard and harmony vocals and Cassidy Holden on the upright bass. Esther Rose's voice is the perfect compliment to Luke Winslow-King's music with a tone reminiscent of Eilen Jewell. This is a fantastic show with great music and thoughts from Luke Winslow-King.

Listen and buy the music of Luke Winslow-King from AMAZON and iTunes





 

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UPCOMING STUDIO EVENTS

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THE NEW RELEASE RACK

The Milk Carton Kids (from the album Monterey) - The Milk Carton Kids have no time to listen to your problems. I took a look at the tour schedule on the duo’s website; they are booked solid. You can, however, find solace, shadows, sunlight and the bright spots that offer sage advice for the issues in the songs of The Milk Carton Kids. On Monterey, the most recent release from The Milk Carton Kids, the guys devote time to working on some of those issues that are universal pitfalls carved into our lives by celestial switchblades. The Kids write disclaimers into “City of Our Lady” as they offer the truism that ‘everywhere we go we are the child of where we came’. MCK have humor as well as the word keys to unlock doors and empty the trunks of funk that we have been hauling around. There is a subtly to the way they tell the stories along with an almost apologetic delivery of the methods needed to change, while nurturing a sympathy for the creatures lost in the transition.

The Milk Carton Kids harmony features high and middle tones for the notes as the pair deliver over thread bare guitar chords and light string touches. MCK maintain a huge amount of warmth and believability as they gently pick and pluck notes from the air, digging through pockets of Folk to find a quiet just a stone’s throw from silence. The hushed delivery compliments the humor of The Milk Carton Kids banter and the microscope they use to script the emotion in their songs. They share that ‘the only time I ever heard the voice of god was in the silence of the night in the arms of the one I love’ as they search for “Secrets of the Stars”), untangle guitar strings for the optimism of one night with “High Hopes”, and take a sip from the “Poison Tree”, opening up a self-awareness that digs through troubles to find that ‘I get a little angry, a little bit each day’. The Milk Carton Kids seal songs in amber waves of notes and sepia-toned stories under “Asheville Skies” as the trees spread color into the November fall, mournfully ask in a whisper to “Sing, Sparrow, Sing”, and sway with soft ocean breezes lapping against land as the road calls in the title track.

Listen and buy the music of The Milk Carton Kids from AMAZON or iTunes

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Christian Lopez Band (from the album Onward / Blaster Records) by Michael Verity - Nineteen year old singer and songwriter Christian Lopez opens his debut long player with a narrative that’s wise well beyond his years. “You took my photo this morning, pushed off my hair in the way, prohibited smile, wasting awhile, while plotting my get away,” he sings on ‘Take You Away,’ a slow cooking ballad with rich piano, subtle banjo lines and a boldly emotional vocal delivery. ‘Don’t Know How’ is an uptempo, heartland rocker with a catchy, singalong chorus. ‘Morning Rise’ reigns in the tempo a touch but still cooks along behind some tasteful brushwork and nice snare licks from drummer Chris Powell. ‘Stay With You’ has a big waltzy feel; ‘Will I See You Again’ melds Virginia country stomp with a melody reminiscent of The Beatles. ‘7 Years’ feels like a classic 70s Colorado ballad before Lopez and company hold their cards close to the vest with the slow rock and blues of ‘Pick Me Up.’ ‘Oh Those Tombs’ is a clever country toss away a la New Riders of The Purple Sage.

The closing tune, ‘Goodbye,’ is in the running for prettiest song of the year, a beautiful ballad with an astoundingly sweet string arrangement. The influences here are evident -- heartland rock, Jackson Browne, Seth Avett, a little 70s pop -- and the result is heartfelt and pure, similar in many ways to the criminally underrated Texas troubadour Dana Cooper.

There are guys twice Lopez’ age making records that are only half as good. Preternaturally wise and notably talented, this is a kid to watch. (by Michael Verity)

Listen and buy the music of Christian Lopez Band from AMAZON or iTunes

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Ana Popovic and Milton Popovic   (from the album Blue Room) - Blue Room, the most recent album from Ana Popovic with her dad, Milton Popovic, tributes her father as well as paying homage through music to the spot where the music lived in the Popovic home. The Popovic’s lived in Belgrade, and the family home was different from other Serbian households. Blues and Rock records were played freely, the climate supporting both discussion and absorption of the music. Ana took her lessons to five Blues Award nominations for Artist of the Year as well as a spot as the only woman on the all-star Experience Hendrix2014 tour.

Milton Popovic is not a musician, though he is a true believer. To further understand the music, he taught himself English as he translated word for word songs from Arthur Big Boy Crudup, George Smith, Magic Sam, Sunnyland Slim and Lightnin’ Hopkins.Father and daughter take a tour of the Southern US through two songs by Tony Joe White on Blue Room. The tracks trace lineage back to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee (“Red River Blues”) and John Lee Hooker (“Tupelo”). British Blues comes in for rock royalty as Ana and Milton Popovic cover “Evening Shadows” (Van Morrison and Acker Bilk), “We Used to Know” (Ian Anderson), and “I’m Losing You” (John Lennon) on Blue Room.

Listen and buy the music of Ana Popovic and Milton Popovic from AMAZON or iTunes

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Jamie Lin Wilson  (from the album Holidays and Wedding Rings) by Michael Verity - If you close your eyes and pretend you’re wearing a pair of Jordache jeans and a John Denver haircut, the opening tune on Jamie Lin Wilson’s new album, “Just Like A Heartache,” sounds as much like Jennifer Warnes or Linda Ronstadt in LA circa ‘74 as it does a song recorded in Nashville a few months ago. It sets the tone for this enjoyable 12 song solo debut of retro country written by Wilson and a troop of Nashville troubadours. Dani Flowers chipped-in to help pen the set’s second song, “She’ll Take Tonight,” a country ballad of heartache reminiscent of Rosanne Cash’s early work. “I built this house in 15 years, tongue and groove and tile and stone,” she sings on “You Left My Chair,” a thoughtful Jason Eady co-write of how it feels to be left behind.

Veteran country singer and  songwriter Wade Bowen contributed words and vocals on the Gram and Emmylou-styled duet “Just Some Things” while Heather Morgan’s pen pitched-in on the “side one” closer, the mournful “Roses By The Dozen.” Side Two starts with “Seven Year Drought,” a standard issue song of life on the parched farms and plains 0f the Midwest. Wilson’s own banjo built “Yours And Mine” is a lazy back porch toe-tapper, as easy as a child’s smile. “The man on the radio, said it’s never been so cold, and it’s coming tomorrow night,” she sings on the Owen Temple co-write “Here Tonight,” a song of bracing the cold with good company soon fleeting. The record closes with “Old Oldsmobile,” a Wilson solo piece reminiscent of Emmylou’s “Red Dirt” repertoire. Well-known as the lead singer of The Trishas, this solo debut is a fine calling card for Jamie Lin Wilson as both a solo act as well as a well-heeled country song collaborator. by Michael Verity

Listen and buy the music of Jamie Lin Wilson from AMAZON or iTunes

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Grant Langston   (from the album Hope You’re Happy Now) - There is a path found in the songs of Grant Langston. On his most recent release, Hope You’re Happy Now, the music wanders from the classic country of his North Alabama childhood into the telecaster twang of honky tonks playing the California Country that Grant now calls home. The stories on Hope You’re Happy Now can trace topics back to the relationships of Classic Country songs and pretty much stop there. Grant Langston puts flesh to his characters using the wry humor and smirks of SoCal punk rock love songs as he tells the tale of ‘real drinkers’ in “Me and Margaret” and starts up “Drive” by offering a ‘couple of whiskeys’, and asking for a dance towards the exit, then the highway beyond.

Hope You’re Happy Now is an audio photo album, turning pages on daily life as “I Work to Hard” discusses the cons of living together, “Fading Fast” shows how it uses words to build walls as ocean air drifts into a morning bedroom for one in “The Nonsense”. Pure Country polishes the heart tugging at itself in “The Only One” as “All That I Can Do” sails on waves of rhythm as love heads towards the California sunset.

Listen and buy the music of Grant Langston from his website

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The Waterboys   (from the album Modern Blues) - There were eighty-three former members of The Waterboys before the current album release, Modern Blues. I counted the list on the band’s website, though I may be off a bit…it is a really long list. The man leading the bucket brigade for the band has been Mike Scott. It is Mike’s words and familiar growl delivery that continue to drive as Modern Blues hurls forward. The album release marks thirty-two years since The Waterboys debut. Using the magic of the British Isles that mark the staging for many of Mike Scott’s tunes, The Waterboys attack the songs on the album with a ferocity that acts as a Rock Roots trance base foundation for Mike’s stories to unfold, rolling across the dream-like of the words. The Waterboys admit “I Can See Elvis”, watching the king rolling a reefer on his golden Harley as Keith Moon drums while Charlie Parker and John Lennon hold the crowd, as “Still a Freak” rolls around on a riff that boogies the band through resume claims.

No two albums are the same, though the overall feel of Modern Blues similarly captures the crackle of its 1988 predecessor. There is a joy to the songs and the playing. Lyrically, the tales find themselves back to the centerpoint of Mike Scott’s subject matter…. women of his past and present. Though the songs of The Waterboys vary in topics, the tales often veer into an overview of the females that come across the path of a man with a pen. Ragged guitar chords sharpen the edge of the words as The Waterboys shout out in the chapel that “Rosalind (You Married the Wrong Guy)”, weave the heat of multiple strings to ward of weather in “November Tale” as they chase a girl into winter, and sing sweetly of the deep rest dream world of “The Girl Who Slept for Scotland”. The Waterboys can see through the thick mist and fogged air of a dead end hometown to a finer moment when Miles and Coltrane played sweet soul jazz, making the music the “Nearest Thing to Hip”.

Listen and buy the music of The Waterboys from AMAZON or iTunes

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Della Mae   (from the album Della Mae) - Della Mae stage their self-titled release from separate poles of emotion within the songs. Musically, the quartet plays acoustic instrumentation that sticks to the Folk and Roots traditions of their history while there is an added force, almost feral at times, firing the strings with electricity. Vocally, gentle harmony is a crucial part of the songs though when the ladies of Della Mae take on their tales’ characters there is spit and bite to the delivery. The feel of Della Mae is one reason that the band chose a eponymous title for their third release, as well as the new sound being closer to how the band has always heard the future of their music. The Low Anthem’s “To Ohio” becomes a torch keeps the path well lit and The Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations” is a Country Folk reverie that digs deep into the track’s psyche as Della Mae make the songs of others blend perfectly into the original on the release.

Della Mae fires its opening salvo with a pro-union and pro-women’s rights song that asks ‘pass me a match and we’ll strike it on the ground, and we’ll head back down to Boston town’. The women of Della Mae stand tall and proud as they challenge workers to take control of their lives and hold on to their dignity. Della Mae encourage to take a chance (“Can’t Go Back”) and start each morning with the right attitude (“Take One Day”). Keeping the acoustic strings that have backed their music since 2009, Della Mae turn the way traditional instrumentation sounds for a modern string band as they chop chords to add to the anxious request for a “Rude Awakening”, lightly finger pick support for the solitary journey that walks “For the Sake of My Heart”, and lay wants on the line with “Good Blood”.

Listen and buy the music of Della Mae from AMAZON or iTunes

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Banditos   (from the album Banditos) - Banditos grew up, and grew together, in Birmingham, Alabama before moving their base of operations to Nashville, Tennessee. Industry-wise, the move proved to get the band more attention. While the added interest in their music is appealing, sonically Banditos were not a perfect fit into cookie-cutter molds. The group are more of a gang who sonically propel their songs forward like a downhill, runaway freight train. Corey Parsons (vocals, guitar) and Stephen Pierce (vocals, banjo) were busking in Birmingham when bar gigs pushed the need for a full band. Banditos members came from primarily rockn’roll and punk backgrounds, and musically bordered by Corey and Stephen’s history of classical and jazz trainings on one end and the church choir work of Mary Beth Richardson (vocals).

The Banditos self-titled release can be ferocious as they wind the groove real tight before letting loose on album opener, “The Breeze”, or it can tenderly bring back good times as it does with its “Old Ways”. Two guitars and a banjo give Banditos a string advantage for their sound as the move the songs through bluesy bluegrass (“Preachin’ to the Choir”), full throttle rock’n’roll (“Cry Baby Cry”), kazoo-infused Indie Folk jams (“Long Gone, Anyway”), and scratchy swamp rumbles (“Can’t Get Away”). Banditos rock in the right places and slide into country charm when necessary. Mary Beth Richardson stands stark under the spotlight, quieting the music to a reverential hush as she directs anyone within hearing range  to ‘not pity me’ with “No Good” while Banditos lock arms in a forward rush that will get them through the bar door as united force to deal with the troubles found in “Still Sober (After All These Beers)”.     

Listen and buy the music of Banditos from AMAZON or iTunes

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Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell (from the album The Traveling Kind) - Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell are no strangers to being a part of one another’s story line. They have added accent and emotion, and continue that model on The Traveling Kind when Rodney backs Emmylou as she becomes a child again, falling back through time courtesy of a black and white photo image of red hair and blue eyes in “Her Hair Was Red”. She returns the favor, backing the male portion of the duo as he asks a daughter of the south to “Bring It on Home to Memphis”.  It is when the shared lives of song come through on The Traveling Kind that the mood changes drastically. As listeners, we get to share a fly-on-the-wall moment as two lovers fall into one another in “I Just Wanted to See You So Bad”, sit at a kitchen table and work out the future of a relationship with “You Can't Say We Didn't Try”, and sift through the wreckage as ‘two old hearts’ try to love again in “No Memories Hanging Round”.  

There is a beauty to the intimate moments that feels like a new page for the Harris-Crowell songbook. Working on even the best relationships can get tedious, and The Traveling Kind offers space to get away from just two when Rodney Crowell addresses the environment, carrying the message with “Weight of the World” and joins Emmylou as they offer a toast to fellow troubadours in the title track before circling back to just two looking for a dance floor before exiting the album on a ‘le bon temps roulé’ with“Le Danse de la Joie”.

Listen and buy the music of Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell from AMAZON or iTunes

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The Lonesome Band   (from the album Running Alone) - The Lonesome Band offer a rambling road song, packed with highway logic and rode-hard guitar fuzz, as album opener for their debut, Running Alone. The track, “Agree to Disagree” follows a drum roll into a celestial grudge match that settles the score with a late night jam. The Lonesome Band chase a wild guitar strum into “Love I’ve Never Known”, letting gentle guitar and pedal steel riffs mask the indecision between stay or leave. The band dials through static to find a clear signal with a Ghost Riders groove with “Heading There Myself”, and join unite their instruments in a mighty rhythm line to clear a path through the title track for a ‘welcome home’ before stretching out the sound and letting in fall in waves as an exit.  

The Lonesome Band started as a goal for duo, Anthony Lucio and Sam Whips Allison. Anthony’s plan was to write 100 songs in a year and begin performing. They kept goals on track added drummer (Miguel Gilly) and bass (Barrett O’Donnell), and set up base in Austin, Texas. On paper, The Lonesome Band are in the Alt Country camp yet that limits the full frontal electric guitar chord slashes that set the pace for “Home of the Free” as it fans a fiery fiddle to ignition, and the honky tonk on tilt that gives it up for a “Woman Who Can Shoot”. Running Alone seeks to grant wishes for The Lonesome Band as the guys “Make ‘Em Dance” and gives country a little western as they ride a range trying to outrun “Uncle Sam”.

Listen and buy the music of The Lonesome Band from AMAZON or iTunes

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Jimbo Mathus   (from the album Blue Healer) - Over the course of solo E.P.’s and full length albums with The Tri-State Coalition, Jimbo Mathus has dipped his pen in the ink of Southern Gothic tales and characters. Jimbo’s 2014 release took a year in preparation, and its sound back dropped the stories with hints of the Roots of the South heard through a Rock base to the songs. On his new release, Blue Healer, Jimbo Mathus digs deeper into the sounds of the South. The album keeps the literary tone to his stories, building verses with depth in words, style to its tale, and chorus hooks to take a little something with you from the tune. “Ready to Run” rumbles along with Indie Roots, “Save it for the Highway” matches the white lines underneath wheels with handclaps, and “Old Earl” rustles up a Country Folk ruckus to tell his tale.

As a character, the Blue Healer manifests in the title track as its spirit materializes out of an acid mist of bubbling organ and bass notes to lay her hands on the dreams of the tale’s narrator. The Del Lords’ Eric Ambel uses guitar crunch to help Jimbo make an entrance onto Blue Healer as the pair team up on opening track “Shoot Out the Lights”. Quiet guitar notes and a gentle sway to the melody support Jimbo in the reverie as he shares in “Sometimes I Get Worried” as strings bend and tangle to weave a foundation of “Thank You”, a church basement piano pounds out a gospel intro of salvational purges as he preys on “Love and Affection”,   and desert dust slowly shakes off the rhythms of “Coyote”. Jimbo Mathus commands attention as he takes to his musical pulpit to speak of Blue Healer; confessing his sins in “Waiting on the Other Shoe to Fall” as the faithful join in for the chorus, begs for another chance to try this life thing again in “Mama Please”, and stomps out a rock’n’roll boogie for a dance with the “Bootheel Witch”.

Listen and buy the music of Jimbo Mathusfrom AMAZON or iTunes

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Danielle Miraglia   (from the album Glory Junkies) - Danielle Miraglia carved out a spot for her Blues in Boston, Mass and beyond with an old Gibson guitar, a stomp-box for rhythm, harmonica and a suitcase full of Janis Joplin following tunes that spoke of ‘great social and political import’. Good for anyone, though Danielle broke through more than velvet ropes, climbing high enough on the ladder rungs to get above the massive clouds of hairspray rising up in her native Revere, Mass from the females in her peer group maintaining bed head (for non-natives, that is the trend peculiar to the north shore of Boston where young girls only comb and spray the front of their hair). Glory Junkies is the latest release from Danielle Miraglia. The album uses little of past DM musical lives, and casts no shadow from North Shore upbringing…though it keeps the whole social and political thing. What Glory Junkies does is strut into existence on a mighty bass line that pulls you under as Danielle welcomes with the line ‘follow me baby’ as she opens the door to the album with “Dead End Street”.

Glory Junkies gets personal when the title goes solo with “Glory Junkie”, as Danielle swaggers and spits out a goodbye while she dials down the force of the songs to tune into the baseball game with dad and his buddies popping the cork for their only shot at glory with The Mets in “Heat of the Win”. Danielle Miraglia fleshes out the stick figures that drive with a Cajun accordion in the passenger seat giving direction for “Left Hand Turn”, stacks up her Soul for the funky “Warning Fair Warning”, and rolls over rock with a forward motion that is determined as it follows Dylan into the subterranean with “Famous for Nuthin’”. Glory Junkies addicts with its charm and becomes irresistible as it stretches potency of its hit to climb up from clouds of misery in “Carmella”,and to break free and dance with the song. Glory Junkies jackhammers Blues guitar strums, stomp-box beats and harmonica blasts to “Tear It Down”, and swears over a rock’n’stroll groove to face the reality ‘there’s no place to hide’ written on “Coffee Stained Thank You Cards”.    

Listen and buy the music of Danielle Miraglia from AMAZON or iTunes

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Willy Porter   (from the album Human Kindness) - Willy Porter accepted his role in the grand scheme of his journey over the past two decades and ten album releases while Willy has been successfully searching for the shaman and spirits that live inside a guitar. The results of the experiences he has encountered on his path so far are collected on his most recent release, Human Kindness. The stories are never predictable nor do the ways of achieving always follow a linear path, yet themes of the struggles, questions, and triumphs for humankind still comes from his pen. Willy Porter lets you see the night sky through his eyes as he tells the tale of “Constellation” over a jazzy rock for his Folk music, rushes the words to “Try to Forget”, stamps a beat on “Walking with the Man” that rattles your soul, and scratches out chords and notes to cast out on the road to “Freedom”.

Willy weaves words and music into the story, accenting his characters with chugging rhythms under “This Train”, rubbery riffs to set the table for “Elouise”, heart pumps in a beat for “A Love Like This”, and scattering quickly plucked guitar notes, African percussions and a wild fiddle to gather “Roses in the Rain”. Willy Porter offer Human Kindness to combine his work with both the acoustic and electric side of his past work, pulling out the stops for the electric slide of “My Bird Can Song” while “Chippewa Boots” walks the line between bright Folk in its music and hard luck blues promises in its tale.

Listen and buy the music of Willy Porter from AMAZON or iTunes

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JD Souther   (from the album Tenderness) - JD Souther blended the style of a singer/songwriter with the SoCal Country Rock of the late 1970’s, building the new sound in the songs he penned for the Eagles (“New Kid in Town”, “Heartache Tonight”), Linda Ronstadt (“Prisoner in Disguise”), co-writes with James Taylor (“Her Town, Too”) as well as solo hits (“You’re Only Lonely”). JD Souther brings songwriting talents into his recent release, Tenderness. The album bares a inner self and tells its story with a soulful tone as JD’s piano echoes while a sax wails over a jazzed beat under “Downtown (Before the War)”. 

Tenderness opens its heart with track number one as its looks at California promises and admits the emptiness love leaves with “Come What May”. Music is a mist of acoustic chords and gentle note patterns granting “All Your Wishes”, huddles against a stammering heartbeat for “Something in the Dark”, and dreams in stark piano notes, brushed drums, and lonely strings to hush a lullaby for “Horses in Blue”.

Listen and buy the music of JD Souther from AMAZON or iTunes

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Jimmy LaFave  (from the album The Night Tribe on Music Road Records) by Michael Verity - For the 18th long player in Jimmy LaFave’s decidedly independent-minded career, the Texas-born singer opens with an easy slice of down home country soul called “The Beauty Of You.” It’s a thoughtfully written tune fusing a man’s wonder at the beauty of nature with his appreciation for the loveliness of a woman. “Oh the days fall down, on me, and this yearning that I feel, is as it’s supposed to be,” he contemplates on “Maybe,” a chiming love song that recalls Springsteen with its lush “Wall Of Sound production. “Trying To Get Back To You” draws on LaFave’s Texas roots, a bluesy booty-shaker of a tune that highlights the subtle guitar work of Anthony Da Costa and Larry Wilson.

‘Do you ever talk with the angels, put in a word for me’, he asks on the beautiful ballad, “Talk To Angels,” with cellists Tony Rogers and Brian Standefer anchoring an exquisite string quartet and Radoslav Lorkovic adding a splendidly simple piano solo. “The Night Tribe” is a spooky cinematic narrative of a “shadow world in blues and grays,” another lusciously appointed tune rooted in beautiful piano lines and string harmonies. “Dust Bowl Okies” revisits the groove of “Trying To Get Back To You” then the album closes on a mellow tone, wherein LaFave wishes “peace be with you, my friend” on the gospel-infused “The Roads Of The Earth.” LaFave is as artfully poignant songwriter with a tousled voice (a la Steve Forbert); his band is exceptional and the production here is quietly unobtrusive. This is a great record that, hopefully, will get its fair amount of attention from the Americana community. It deserves it.  (Michael Verity)

Listen and buy the music of Jimmy LaFave from AMAZON or iTunes

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Sugarcane Jane (from the album Dirt Road’s End) - Sugarcane Jane start off their recent release, Dirt Road’s End, with a calling card aka story song about themselves. “The Ballad of Sugarcane Jane” travels the road of touring musicians: the highs become a kaleidoscope that prisms the sunshine of today. The words reflect of the music, and the sound mirrors the players…Sugarcane Jane. The tale begins at the end of the road, and the beginning, for Anthony Crawford. The ballad of the story starts at Dirt Road’s End to the sound track of ‘la-la-la’. It is the story of Anthony Crawford and Savanna Lee aka Sugarcane Jane. Anthony is the guy who ‘followed the path of the crow all the way to the music row’, Savanna is the ‘la-la-la’ siren that showed a way out. The message is trickier than anything the smoking caterpillar can dish out…to start on your path you must first find the Dirt Road’s End….and also ‘friends who come to the shows and they’re buying everything that we record’.

Dirt Road’s End is a duo with friends as the songs catch a ride on a bass bump that navigates down “Heartbreak Road”,  adds guitar jangle sweetness to the already honey-dripping vocals for “Sugar”, and sees the beauty of the “San Andreas”, sharing the gossip that ‘if god had a home, she’d be living there’. Sugarcane Jane equally sonically mirror their environment. The songs are not autobiographical though their ties to home and family dig the tracks roots directly into the earth we share under our feet.

It is when Sugarcane Jane sing about “Home Nights” that the road seems like a long highway in the ‘Mississippi moonlight’. Dirt Road’s End plays “The Game” over a rattle rhythm that shakes the harmonica loose to lead the way for a story of ‘this poor boy left this small town and he won’t be back no more’. Sugarcane Jane board a rumbling ‘train that runs all the way to New Orleans’ as they travel to “Louisiana” in their dreams,  make sure the Country stays Folk for “Not Another Truck Song”, and shudder and shiver the groove to break free and become “Glory Bound”.

Listen and buy the music of Sugarcane Jane from AMAZON or iTunes

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The Cash Box Kings  (from the album Holding Court) - The Cash Box Kings have reached a personal crossroads. The Chicago based band are thinking of packing ‘cause the low end got too high’ and they “Gotta Move Out to the Suburbs”. CBK are community spirited in the songs yet they clearly need a helping hand themselves on Holding Court; as sweet as their sound is, they are down with the “Download Blues”, A cha-cha guides “Juju” as the lady saunters down the street, Country Blues ambles up with a handful of “Sugar Peas”, and the guys confess they are ‘hollowed out inside’ in “I Miss You Miss Anne”. The Cash Box Kings strut proud on Holding Court, comfortable with the brew of Country and Blues that they have bottling in song. The band continue to honor the sound of post-war Chicago during the 1940’s and 1950’s, and the Delta Blues that sent the sound north in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Joe Nosek and Oscar Wilson front Cash Box Kings. Joe is a harmonica player channeling Little Walter and Slim Harpo while Oscar is a 6’3” 300 pound man carved from the Chicago Blues heyday. The Blues drags “Out on the Road” down to a crawl as the Cash Box Kings call their own dance out with “Cash Box Boogie”. Holding Court is a sound memory that picks up an echo from the past and delivers it fresh. Harmonica and guitar notes wiggle like worms as CTB proclaim “Everybody’s Fishin’”, swear off tailing love with “I Ain't Gonna Be No Monkey” as a solid beat is the only constant when notes flash over the love pleas of “A Real Lover”. 

Listen and buy the music of Cash Box Kings from AMAZON or iTunes

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Heather Maloney   (from the album Making Me Break) - Heather Maloney goes more Indie with her Folk Rock on Making Me Break, her most recent release. That style was a model for Heather going in to the studio to work with producer Bill Reynolds (Avett Brothers, Band of Horses). She recalls that ‘the sounds I love in indie rock are so lush, and textured, and intricate, like someone spent a lot of time on this, so they must really care. And as a singer-songwriter raised on Folk, I am drawn to lyrics that that are meaningful, intelligent, tell a story, paint pictures… that care. So I just wanted to make an album that cared musically and lyrically. Some sort of a bleeding heart meeting a distant, unaffected, sparkly rock band. That was the goal.’

Angular chords flash around the straight-ahead vocals of Heather Maloney in “Otherwise” as the sound of marching drums and distant thunder burst around “Involuntary”. Heather targets her songs for the heart, and she is comfortable with the drops of blood that glisten on her tracks, citing influences with equally soul slashing words in Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple, and Tori Amos. A tangle of guitar notes ground “Oh Hope My Tired Friend” over echoes of percussion,  only to break free and fall like leaves as the title track ‘drives through November’ while sharp jabs of chords stab the soft rolling rhythms in “Rather Be free”, and “Hey Serena” jangles chords and future plans to tumble over one another in free fall.

Listen and buy the music of Heather Maloney from AMAZON or iTunes

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James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garret, David Wilcox   (from the album Guitar Heroes) - Guitar Heroes is not a simulation, though it is something you can play at home, bringing the one time, one night experience into your personal choice of device to turn it up!. Telecaster royalty comes with the guitarist for The King. James Burton was in the house band for the Louisiana Hayride radio show at fourteen years old, and seventeen years old when he created the hook for Dale Hawkins original hit with “Susie Q”,   He was with Elvis Presley in the TCB Band, which he organized when he came on board with Elvis in 1968. Other guitar gigs for James Burton include a Los Angeles stint in his teens with Ricky Nelson’s band (11 years), John Denver (17 years), and Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band as well as session work.

Albert Lee started guitar growing up in England and remembers playing down the street in Hamburg’s Reeperbahn at the same time as The Beatles. He was in Emmylou Hot Band (replacing James Burton), with Eric Clapton (6 years), and The Everly Brothers (20 years). Amos Garrett performed the guitar work on Maria Muldaur’s hit “Midnight at the Oasis”, played with early Folk-Rock bands such as Ian and Sylvia, Paul Butterfield’s Better Days, Great Speckled Bird as well as Geoff Muldaur and Maria Muldaur, and Canadian David Wilcox has been a rock radio staple in the Great White North since debuting on album in 1977.

Guitar Heroes makes sure everyone has a good time by putting the band as fans for the version of tunes they play. A rockabilly shuffle pushes their take on Ray Charles’ “Leave My Woman Alone”, dreamy leads wind through Santo and Johnny’s “Sleep Walk”, guitar match the song title on Big Joe Turner’s “Flip, Flop. And Fly”, and snaking swamp licks crawl through Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie”. The band tap into their own catalog with tracks made famous by David Wilcox (“Green Apples”) and James Burton (“Susie Q”). The Heroes wrangle the mass of guitar strings into line as the boys twang clean as the sky after rain on Elvis Presley’s “That All Right, Mama”.

Listen and buy the music of Guitar Heroes - James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garret, David Wilcox from AMAZON or iTunes

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Earthworm Ensemble   (from the album Backyard Garden) - Joining familiar names such as Looney Tunes and Disneyland, Earthworm Ensemble have successfully created a world where kids, and their parent’s inner children, can enjoy entertainment as a whole family. Backyard Garden, the recent release from Earthworm Ensemble, backs its tales of life outside your backdoor with Folk dappled psychedelic California Country produced with old time fiddles, rock’n’roll guitars, second line drumming, and a sunshine groove spreading over each track. Earthworm Ensemble features A-list L.A. players from the Folk and Country worlds, with Paul Lacques (I See Hawks in LA), Sherri and Shawn Nourse, Victoria Jacobs, and Denny Moynahan, aka King Kukulele.

The cast of characters holds all-that-can-be from nature as Earthworm Ensemble with players such as “Sparko Stegasaurus”, “Ladybug”, and “Mole vs. Coyote”. The overall theme of Backyard Garden is how to keep the planet green. To that end, Earthwork Ensemble sing about the earthworm’s role in the plant cycle, hand over advice with determination (I Didn’t Give Up”), ways to make a difference organically (“Compost”), and even a mythical superhero team of Bear and Dog  who’ve come to save the planet.

Listen and buy the music of Earthworm Ensemble from AMAZON or iTunes

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NEW VIDEO FROM THE ETHER

THE CASH BOX KINGS - MOVE OUT TO THE COUNTRY

Restaurants, Coffee bars, Skate Parks, Oh My! The Cash Box Kings are getting squeezed out of their homelands. From the recently released, Holding Court, the guys realize that ‘the low end got too high’ as they ‘kiss me crib goodbye” as they “Move Out to the Suburbs”.

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CAITLIN CANTY - MY LOVE FOR YOU WILL NOT FADE

Caitlin Canty rolls the tape to start the video for her tune, “My Love for You Will Not Fade”. The song is form the Jeffrey Foucault-produced album, Reckless Skyline. The live video shoot is courtesy of Colonel Saunder’s kitchen.

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SOFIA TALVIK - BIG SKY COUNTRY

Sofia Talvik is a singer/songwriter from Sweden. She is a lady of the forest in her folk music. Sofia brings a video for "Big Sky Country." She was inspired by a year-and-half tour which took her to 37 of the 50 states. Sofia Talvik shares a life lived, a road seen along with venues played and people met.

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NEW AND NOTEWORTHY

NICKI BLUHM AND THE GRAMBLERS - LOVE WILD LOST

NICKI BLUHM AND THE GRAMBLERS - LOVE WILD LOST

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers  (from the album Love Wild Lost) - Nicki Bluhm has the double benefit of being born on ground for California Country in Lafayette, California. Nicki began recording under the mentorship of Tim Bluhm (The Mother Hips), who put together various players for early recordings. The Gramblers solidified as a touring and recording band in 2009 and the group has been steadily raising their star higher and higher with each pull on the stage curtains. The group has had a f...

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DIAMOND RUGS - COSMETICS

DIAMOND RUGS - COSMETICS

Diamond Rugs  (from the album Cosmetics) - By definition, Indie music is not something that grows supergroups. In the world of Indie, if you can think it you can play it. Multiple musicians from multiple bands are not put together for marketing purposes by labels or a press carrots. The sound springs from late night, post show hangs, bonding over record collections, and the need of artists to create.  Members of Deer Tick (John McCauley, Robbie Crowell), Los Lobos (Steve Berlin), Dead C...

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THE A.J. GHENT BAND - LIVE AT TERMINAL WEST

THE A.J. GHENT BAND - LIVE AT TERMINAL WEST

A.J. Ghent Band (from the album Live At Terminal West - Blue Corn Music) by Michael Verity - Standup pedal steel player A.J. Ghent launches his solo debut with “Call Me,” a blistering blues rock stomper that blends the incendiary guitar style of Jeff Healey with the raw California funk of Parliament/Funkadelic. James Brown gets a nod in the medium-tempo funk of “Can’t Be Your Dog” while saxophonist Gary Paulo brings a jazzy groove to “What Would You Do.” At the heart of Ghent’s sound is southern ...

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MAKING THE LIST

TOP 40 MODERN BLUES ARTISTS FOR 2015 - PART 1

TOP 40 MODERN BLUES ARTISTS FOR 2015 - PART 1

In her recent Grammy winning album, The River and The Thread , Rosanne Cash points out that ‘there’s a million shades of Modern Blue’. We agree. The Blues is a genre that is in constant motion. Blues artists are creating a future for Blues that takes cues from the past in both playing and production of music. Artists are making their own instruments, blending Blues with Country, Folk, and Soul, taking the sound of albums back to analog recording days, mixing Rhythm with their Blues. In 2015, there...

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TOP 40 MODERN BLUES ARTISTS FOR 2015 - PART 2

TOP 40 MODERN BLUES ARTISTS FOR 2015 - PART 2

In her most recent Grammy winning album, The River and The Thread, Rosanne Cash points out that ‘there’s a million shades of Modern Blue’. We agree. The Blues is a genre that is in motion. Blues artists are creating a future for Blues that takes cues from the past in both playing and production of music. Artists are making their own instruments, blending Blues with Country, Folk, and Soul, taking the sound off albums to analog recording days, mixing Rhythm with their Blues. In 2015, there is no ...

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TOP 100 FOR 2014 BY THE NUMBERS

TOP 100 FOR 2014 BY THE NUMBERS

The Top 100 takes a full year to become a proper list. The number one spot changed hands several times in the past twelve months. Our mid-year list took a listen to albums released between January and June. The list seemed like it was running strong yet the releases in the tail end of the year came on strong. For me, Old Crow Medicine Show was number one when I received their July release, Remedy . Nothing against the other players on the 2014 chart, but band for band, Old Crow will always be in t...

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FROM THE VAULTS

NOAM PIKELNY - NOAM PIKELNY PLAYS KENNY BAKER PLAYS BILL MONROE

NOAM PIKELNY - NOAM PIKELNY PLAYS KENNY BAKER PLAYS BILL MONROE

It is easy to follow the idea by simply paying attention to the title of Noam Pikelny’s latest release. Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe …. pretty easy to understand right. Though the title is not deep, Noam more than makes up in the depth department with the intuitive flash and fervor of his playing. The album is the first complete banjo adaptation of Kenny Baker’s 1976 seminal recording of Bill Monroe’s instrumentals. As with all Noam Pikelny album offerings, and with his work as...

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JOHN BATDORF AND JAMES LEE STANLEY - ALL WOOD AND STONES II

JOHN BATDORF AND JAMES LEE STANLEY - ALL WOOD AND STONES II

James Lee Stanley always gets wood when he reworks, reinvents and completely recreates the music of other artists, usually classic rock icons. On All Wood and Stones II , recorded with John Batdorf, James and John wear the skin of lead singers and players on Rolling Stones classics.  The album takes the songs of Mick and Keith and presents them as new versions. On a strictly personal side, it is great to hear songs of The Rolling Stones in a way that highlights, and slows down the story line ...

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LUCINDA WILLIAMS - LUCINDA WILLIAMS (DELUXE EDITION)

LUCINDA WILLIAMS - LUCINDA WILLIAMS (DELUXE EDITION)

Lucinda Williams began her recording career on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Her output for the label was two albums, Ramblin’ (1979) and Happy Woman Blues (1980), both acoustic folk/blues. Lucinda as a tender folkie surrounded by gentle acoustic instrumentation did not catch traction at radio or with fans. When she moved away covering songs traditional to the genre and into writing her own material, the sound joined with the style of other delta musicians that had gone before the Lafayette, ...

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MOVERS AND SHAKERS

THE DEER RUN DRIFTERS - RESTLESS YOUTH

THE DEER RUN DRIFTERS - RESTLESS YOUTH

The Deer Run Drifters   (from the album Restless Youth) - Contrary to popular belief, it is not the need for attention that prompts musicians to set up, play, and break down day, after day, after day. It may have seemed like they liked the accolades when Chris Link and Shane Edgell decided to form a band, The pair had voices, a banjo and guitar, some songs of their own though mostly old time tunes, as they set up on the streets of Floyd, Virginia to busk. Enough people stopped to listen...

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THE PINE HILL PROJECT - TOMORROW YOU'RE GOING

THE PINE HILL PROJECT - TOMORROW YOU'RE GOING

The Pine Hill Project   (from the album Tomorrow You’re Going) - Musical folks have no trouble weighing in for the ‘why can’t we get along’ in most battles lie immigration, gun control and human rights. Mention the internet and it is stealing music, that is a comment that waters down prospects and takes fans away from live shows. All of that is debatable though it was Kickstarter, a fan funded online service, that has allowed Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell to fulfill a 25-year late...

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THE MOUNTAIN GOATS - BEAT THE CHAMP

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS - BEAT THE CHAMP

The Mountain Goats (from the album Beat the Champ – Merge Records) by Michael Verity - On the surface, it sounds like the ever-esoteric John Darnielle’s 15th album under the Mountain Goats moniker is all about professional wrestling. But in reality, says Darnielle, “it’s more about death and difficult-to-navigate interior spaces” considered against the sometime comedic, sometimes gruesome backdrop of professional wrestling. From the melancholy piano ballad that opens the album (“Southwestern Terr...

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MAKING THE LIST

In her recent Grammy winning album, The River and The Thread, Rosanne Cash points out that ‘there’s a million shades of Modern Blue’. We agree. The Blues is a genre that is in constant motion. Blues artists are creating a future for Blues that takes cues from the past in both playing and production of music. Artists are making their own instruments, blending Blues with Country, Folk, and Soul, taking the sound of albums back to analog recording days, mixing Rhythm with their Blues. In 2015, there is no common factor for Blues musicians. They are young and old, male and female, and the only color visible is Blue.

We have gathered together 40 artists who have (mostly) released albums in the past year; artists that go beyond what has come to be expected of the Blues. These artists do not go to traditional timing, chord patterns, rhythms, or structure. Blues and Rock have had a long, very public, history together and they gave birth to a 12-Bar Blues standard in song. For our Top 40 Modern Blues list, we have put artists that are challenging themselves by relying on the music they hear in their heads. For musicians, there is no ‘final frontier’, the sound will go on forever, though that will not stop players from playing, and finding a new way to express. Here is a sampling of artists that are creating a future for The Blues.

MODERN BLUES ARTISTS FOR 2015 #1 THRU #20

1 - North Mississippi Allstars  (from the album World Boogie is Coming) - North Mississippi Allstars formed in 1996 during a special time for modern Mississippi country blues. Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson absorbed the North Mississippi legacy while playing and shaking it down in the juke joints with their blues ancestors. R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Otha Turner. Luther (guitar, vocals) and Cody (drums, vocals) formed the North Mississippi Allstars and pioneered their own brand of blues-infused rock and roll.

Listen to more music by North Mississippi Allstars from AMAZON or iTunes

2 - Joe Louis Walker   (from the album Hornet’s Nest) - Joe Louis Walker has a worldwide reputation as a Blues innovator and trailblazer. His guitar playing sizzles: sometimes feral, sometimes sweet. Joe Louis’ playing has a unique ability to both follow and lead in his songs, particularly his most recent album, Hornet’s Nest, recorded in Nashville with Tom Hambridge.

Listen to more music by Joe Louis Walker from AMAZON or iTunes

3 – Greyhounds  (from the album Accumulator) - There is Blues in the Greyhounds rock solid bass line and metronome perfect drumming. Blues floats up from the soulful vocals and guides the guitar riffs and organ swirls yet Greyhounds manage to deliver a time-worn tradition that is wearing a new set of clothes. This Blues transforms itself within the music the band creates without the need to mimic or cut chops from what has gone before. Accumulator never follows the path to bygone Blues with anything other than as an influence. Their muse stands firm, pointing to the future and demanding of Greyhounds to make their own damn Blues.

Listen to more music by Greyhounds from AMAZON or iTunes

4 - HowellDevine   (from the album Modern Sounds of Ancient Juju) - Joshua Howell started playing harmonica at fourteen and by seventeen he was sitting in with local San Francisco Bay Blues bands. Pete Devine began playing drums in his native Maine when he was six years old and bassman Joe Kyle, Jr. is a survivor of the great San Francisco Swing Wars of the early 1990’s. The trio came together in the SF Bay Blues scene, and set up shop as HowellDevine, matching the sound and the cool monikers of early electric Blues players. Modern Sound of Ancient Juju wraps up eleven tracks with Jazz-flecked Blues riffs and rhythms. HowellDevine have magic moments in the songs when the music suddenly takes over. Yeah, three guys are playing instruments, yet the sound seduces as one force of nature.

Listen to more music by HowellDevine from AMAZON of iTunes

5 - Danielle Nicole (from the E.P. Danielle Nicole) - Danielle Nicole grew up the daughter of Kansas City musicians, becoming a founding member as a bass-wielding singer of her songs in Trampled Under Foot. Danielle Nicole (Schnebelen) was the winner of the 2014 Blues Music Award for Instrumentalist (Bassist), and nominee for female artist in the 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards. She recorded her self-titled E.P.in New Orleans with Grammy winning producer Anders Osborne. Danielle delivers music heavy on the groove, with the tracks skillfully guided by the vocals. The four studio tracks present Danielle Nicole in a new light, keeping the Blues glow she has taken around the world as her muse,

Listen to more music by Doman Fowler from AMAZON or iTunes

6 - Steve Earle and the Dukes  (from the album Terraplane) - A sonic milestone is crossed on Terraplane, the most recent release from Steve Earle and the Dukes. To truly feel the album simply give in to the distortion-based accents of raw Blues and Velvet Underground drone as it finds its kinship with a contemporary feral Blues underground that is crawling from the wreckage to once again walk the earth….hallelujah. As a host, Steve Earle never throws the same party for each album release. Terraplane is not exclusive in its use of sharp edges on its tracks, yet the overall feel, from and function is down, dirty, oh-so-sweet Blues of the yeah, that’s it, right there variety.

Listen to more music by Steve Earle and the Dukes from AMAZON of iTunes

7 - John Moreland (from the album In the Throes) - The raw power of his voice helps you immediately understand the man in the story. In "3:59AM”, you can almost identify the shadow sitting in the fractured nighttime light. What wakes us up in the dead of night comes through in the story, his confusion can be heard in a voice used to explain himself. He is a man seeking salvation, his path is of the spirit, a man who believes in what he can see and touch; “got my ear to the ground, you got Easter Sunday in your eyes”. John Moreland releases his new album, High on Tulsa Heat, in April 21, 2015.

Listen to more music by John Moreland from AMAZON or iTunes

8 - Seth Walker  (from the album Sky Still Blue) - Seth Walker is a seeker. Like most musicians, he strives to be better and dig deeper into his music. His songs have that fully formed feel though the borders are never structured.  That ease to the playing, the grooves, the interactions of the musicians, continues on the recent release, Sky Still Blue.  The recording took place at The Wood Brothers’ Nashville-based Southern Ground Studios. Producer Oliver Wood was joined as a musician on Sky Still Blue by fellow Wood Brothers Jano Rix and Chris Wood (also of Medeski, Martin and Wood).

Listen to more music by Seth Walker from AMAZON of iTunes

9 – Anne McCue (from the album Blue Sky Thinkin’) - Anne McCue is a musical chameleon. With her most recent release, Blue Sky Thinkin’, she sets the sound machine to Vintage as she taps into a time when Jazz and Blues spent quality moments together. 

Listen to more music by Anne McCue from AMAZON of iTunes

10 - Jorma Kaukonen  (from the album Ain’t in No Hurry) - Ain’t in No Hurry, the most recent release from Jorma Kaukonen,  fingerpicks Blues through self-penned tracks by the Hot Tuna, and former Jefferson Airplane, guitarist. Jorma revisits an economic relative that never travels far from home with “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime”.

Listen to more music by Jorma Kaukonen from AMAZON of iTunes

11 - Janiva Magness  (from the album Original) - Janiva Magness is beaten down in the songs story but not out. The glass is half full and Janiva faces fear head on “Standing” on a slow Country Blues dream.

Listen to more music by Janiva Magness from AMAZON of iTunes

12 - Ray Bonneville  (from the album Easy Gone) - Ray Bonneville played guitar but his life was working behind another wheel, running the gamut between bush pilot and cab driver. Ray was busy and never got around to songwriting until he was in his 40’s when using a lifetime of hard-won tales and self-taught guitar chops, Ray Bonneville entered the life of musician. Ray might get some comparison with J.J. Cale though the music on Easy Gone, the new release on Red House Records, has Blues in its heritage, and a New Orleans way of gathering diverse styles up as offerings on the altar of the groove

Listen to more music by Ray Bonneville from AMAZON of iTunes

13 - Devon Allman  (from the album Ragged and Dirty) - Devon Allman does not take the mission of bringing the Blues into the future lightly. He has played as a solo artist, as well as a member of high profile projects, such as Royal Southern Brotherhood. On his latest release, Ragged and Dirty, he tears into the Blues, ripping a riff from his guitar for the message that “Half A Truth is still a lie.

Listen to more music by Devon Allman from AMAZON of iTunes

14 – Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin (from the album Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin Sing the Songs of Big Bill Bronzy) - It has been close to thirty years since Dave Alvin and brother, Phil Alvin, recorded an album together. One-off songs here and there and the occasional live shows of their shared history with The Blasters have put the brothers together in studio and stage. It was inspiration that took them back in to record for their recent Yep Roc Records release, Common Ground: Dave Alvin + Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy. Friends don’t stay friends in bands, and in shared blood and you have one volatile working environment in studio or stage. Addressing the unspoken question about how the recording process proceeded, brother Dave said it simply, ‘we argue sometimes, but we never argue about Big Bill Broonzy,’

Listen to more music by Phil Alvin and Dave Alvin from AMAZON of iTunes

15 – The Soul of John Black (from the album Sunshine State of Mind) - The Soul of John Black is a non-stop Blues riff as he plows through “Johnny Bear (Give It to Me)”. John Black is making house calls as Doctor Love.

Listen to more music by The Soul of John Black from AMAZON of iTunes

16 - Carolyn Wonderland    (from the album Peace Meal) - Carolyn Wonderland’s live album debut will arrive on April 21, 2015. The success of studio albums in 2008 (Miss Understood) and again in 2011 (Peace Meal), has allowed Carolyn to record where she shines brightest…. live performance. The Carolyn Wonder Trio offer recordings from Texas’ most famous packed houses, Antone’s in Austin, Kessler Theatre in Dallas and Last Concert Café in Houston.

Listen to more music by Caroline Wonderland from AMAZON of iTunes

17 - John Mayall   (from the album A Special Life) - A Special Lifeis the title of the new John Mayall album, his first in five years. On first glance, you could take the title as John describing his own luck, living times as the godfather of British Blues. John Mayall put together the first version of The Bluesbreakers in 1963 and over the course of the last fifty years, the group has been a resume builder for young British Blues artists seeking to make a name for themselves.

Listen to more music by John Mayall from AMAZON of iTunes

18 - Eden Brent  (from the album Jigsaw Heart) - It is the lady and her piano that take center stage on any Eden Brent recording or performance. As a solo artist or as a bandleader, Eden is the single cell that gives the music life as much as her Mississippi Delta heritage hardwires the Blues into her own playing. Eden Brent and her Blues made the trip north from Mississippi to record her latest release,Jigsaw Heart, in Nashville with guitarist, solo performer, and member of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (and Bob Dylan’s band), Colin Linden, sitting in the producer’s chair. 

Listen to more music by Eden Brent from AMAZON of iTunes

19 - Mike Zito and the Wheel (from the album Live from the Road) - Mike Zito adds up Blues chairs as a solo artist and recently with Royal Southern Brotherhood. He steers his band, The Wheel, into a live album and does the math in “Subtraction Blues”.

Listen to more music by Mike Zito and the Wheel from AMAZON or iTunes

20 - Damon Fowler  (from the album Sounds of Home) - Damon Fowler has had a long, ongoing relationship with roots music, crafting a personal guitar style as a teenager that was equal part roots rock, blues and sacred steel. Sounds of Home is Damon’s third solo release for Blind Pig Records, the label also releasing Damon’s band Southern Hospitality, a joint effort with JP Soars and Victor Wainwright.

Listen to more music by Damon Fowler from AMAZON or iTunes

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In her most recent Grammy winning album, The River and The Thread, Rosanne Cash points out that ‘there’s a million shades of Modern Blue’. We agree. The Blues is a genre that is in motion. Blues artists are creating a future for Blues that takes cues from the past in both playing and production of music. Artists are making their own instruments, blending Blues with Country, Folk, and Soul, taking the sound off albums to analog recording days, mixing Rhythm with their Blues. In 2015, there is no common factor for Blues musicians. They are young and old, male and female, and the only color visible is Blue.

We have gathered together 40 artists who have (mostly) released albums in the past year that go beyond what has come to be expected of the Blues. These artists do not go to traditional timing, chord patterns, rhythms, or structure. Blues and Rock have had a long, very public, history together and they gave birth to a 12-Bar Blues standard in song. For out Top 40 Modern Blues list, we have put artists that are challenging themselves by relying on the music they hear in their heads. For musicians, there is not ‘final frontier’, the sound will go on forever, though that will not stop players from playing, and finding new way to express. Here is a sampling of artists that are creating a future for The Blues

MODERN BLUES ARTISTS FOR 2015 #21 THRU #40

21 - Markus James  (form the album Head for the Hills) - Markus James is originally from Virginia and the DC area, where his first musical memory, from the age of four, is of an old, blind blues singer he saw many times playing on a sidewalk. He encountered West African stringed music at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Markus James settled in Northern California, recording Blues influenced album with African musicians. On his recent release, Head for the Hills, he sets his guitar on Mississippi Hill Country blues, recording “Just Say Yes with a son of the Mississippi Hill Country, Kinney Kimbrough (son of Junior Kimbrough)

Listen to more music from Markus James from AMAZON or iTunes

22 - Jarekus Singleton  (from the album Refuse to Lose) - Refuse to Loseis the album title for the Jarekus Singleton’s debut on Alligator Records. As a song, the title track introduces Jarekus as a songwriter and one major player in a guitar world. “Refuse to Lose” is historical; telling the story of a man who will win, whatever it takes. He admits to suffering and tears over the years, being the victim of betrayals and gossip and taken on hard jobs with no regret. Surrender was not an option and the man in the story, and Jarekus Singleton, separated from the pack with will power, discipline and desire.

Listen to more music from Jarekus Singleton from AMAZON or iTunes

23 - Keb’ Mo’   (from the album BLUESAmericana) - Rhythm is a physical thing to Keb Mo’ though the inspiration for BLUESAmericana came way before the wisdom of the tracks. A cover of a tune Keb’ first heard sung by Mississippi Sheiks Sam Chatmon, “That’s Alright”, began the recording process. Keb’ Mo’ knows himself, and that “I only make albums when I’m inspired to, and these ten songs come from a very honest place”

Listen to more music from Keb' Mo' from AMAZON or iTunes

24 - Cassie Taylor  (from the album Out of My Mind) - At age 26, Cassie Taylor was already a veteran musician. She's spent a decade playing bass and singing with her dad, Otis Taylor’s, band. She plays, writes, and produces Out of My Mind, her most recent release. Cassie introduces Ol’Mama Dean over a swamp Blues crawl that will make the old lady feel right at home.

Listen to more music from Cassie Taylor from AMAZON or iTunes

25 - Garrett Lebeau  (from the album Rise to the Grind)  - Garrett Lebeau was born and raised on the Wind River Indian Reservation near Lander, Wyoming, and is an enrolled member of the Shoshone tribe. Garrett recalls, "Growing up we listened to very little music. The Blues spoke to me… the raw unadorned honesty is what still motivates me musically. It spans all styles. When I say soul, I mean "SOUL" you know when music has it. I am not speaking of some narrow definition for a style of music. I speak of music with spirit about life... the trials and tribulations of the working man. Folk music is kin in spirit as is most music that I love. My goal is to connect with other like-minded human beings to keep the tradition of soul music alive. Where you write, play and sing from your own self - Just like the early Blues musicians.. Feeling has no genre".

Listen to more music from Garrett Leabeau from AMAZON or iTunes

26 – Marcia Ball (from the album the Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man) - Over the course of four decades, Marcia Ball has etched her name into the skin of Gulf Coast boogie Blues.  On her recent release, it is her own flesh that is receiving fine lines and tasty textures of color as The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man.  The sound of the album knicks multiple Gulf Coast rhythms  from the songs Marcia Ball heard growing up on the Louisiana-Texas border, and on her relocation to Austin, Texas in the 1970’s, adding to her branded mix of Southern Soul, Zydeco, the syncopated New Orleans style of Professor Longhair, and two-fisted Texas Blues.

Listen to more music from MArcia Ball from AMAZON or iTunes

27 - Leo Bud Welch  (from the album I Don’t Prefer No Blues) - Leo Bud Welch introduced himself to a wider musical world with his debut album at age 81in 2013. Born in 1932 in Sabougla, Mississippi, Leo has lived his entire life in that area. Raised with four brothers and seven sisters, his musical ability was first noticed by his family when he and his cousin Alandus Welch took to an older cousin’s guitar quicker than the owner. Soon, Leo was picking out tunes heard on the radio and playing them for family and friends, also picking up the harmonica and fiddle along the way. His second album, I Don’t Prefer No Blues, comes out this spring 2015. He is 83 years old now, and a much wiser man….watch out!

Listen to more music from Leo Bud Welch from AMAZON or iTunes

28 – JeConte  (from the album Down by the Bayou) - JeConte sets the direction for the Blues to Down by the Bayou. JeConte partners with producer Anders Osborne on vocals for the title track and as the song heads home on a back water current, it cruises channels of guitar notes that fly across the surface as sweet fiddle notes steer the groove “Down by the Bayou”.

Listen to more music from JeConte from AMAZON or iTunes

29 - Elvin Bishop   (from the album Can’t Even Do Wrong Right) - It sounds like in his seventy-one years that Elvin Bishop never once cleaned up his Blues. In “Everybody's in the Same Boat”, the riffs are dirty as Elvin speaks/sings truisms about his own life that are shared experiences of all humanity. It is the advice of a man who has never left a stage without smiles stamped in place from his set, and you can believe him when his says that now is the time cause ‘you ain’t never seen a hearse with luggage on the top’

Listen to more music from Elvin Bishop from AMAZON or iTunes

30 - Matt Andersen  (from the album Weightless) - Matt Andersen’s home is Perth-Andover, a blue-collar community in New Brunswick, Canada, a town of close to 2,000 residents. From the village resting on the banks of the St, John River, Matt Andersen and his music have logged over two million YouTube views, with close to one million for his version of “Ain’t No Sunshine” alone. Matt received a 2013 European Blues award and the Best Solo Performer award at the Memphis Blues Challenge. Weightless was produced by Los Lobos saxman/producer Steve Berlin and features Neko Case’s right hand man and guitarist Paul Rigby.

Listen to more music from Matt Andersen from AMAZON or iTunes

31 - Pops Staples   (from the album Don’t Lose This) - At eighty-four years old, Roebuck ‘Pops’ Staples was experiencing poor health. Pops voice was still his strength, so daughters Yvonne, Cleotha and Mavis decided that dad needed to get into a studio and record a final album.  They entered Hinge Recording Studios in Chicago in 1998 and managed to gather ten tracks with considerations for Pops dwindling health. Pops passed and the raw, rough recordings sat for ten years. Daughter Mavis Staples worked with her producer, Jeff Tweedy, to put a final production on the work with Mavis recalling that ‘“I just couldn’t help but cry, you know, because it sounded like Pops was right there in the room with us. Just to hear him singing, and to think back, the memories that each song brought me—how sick he was and how he struggled.”  

Listen to more music from Pops Staples from AMAZON or iTunes

32 - Royal Southern Brotherhood  (from the album Heartsoulblood) - Heartsoulboodsuccessfully recreates and presents the blues, rock, Cajun, soul and swamp grooves that brought the band together as one sound. Yep, it is the sound of Royal Southern Brotherhood yet if you need a name….don’t strain. The music, and the songs, of Royal Southern Brotherhood is labeled Blues Rock. Sure, it is futuristic Blues Rock in its ability to blend R&B, rock’n’roll, Blues and other older backgrounds into its music.

Listen to more music from Royal Southern Brotherhood from AMAZON or iTunes

33 The Mike Henderson Band    (from the album If You Think It’s Hot Here) - The Mike Henderson Band barnstorms the Blues on If You Think It’s Hot Here. They pack “Matchbox” full-to-stuffing of gut bucket rock’n’roll that blurs Blues, Rock and Country in its pedal to the floor forward motion. If You Think It’s Hot in Here doesn’t really have to ask….it knows how ‘hot’ it is, the band is just being polite.

Listen to more music from The Mike Henderson Band from AMAZON or iTunes

34 - Smokin’ Joe Kubrik and Bnois King  (from the album Fat Man’s Shine Parlor) - Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King usher a fine guitar riff ramble into the grooves of Fat Man’s Shine Parlor, their most recent release. The album marks the duo’s return to Blind Pig Records, with whom they recorded until the mid-2000’s. The interplay between Smokin’ Joe and Bnois is of one collective mind.

Listen to more music from Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King from AMAZON or iTunes

35 - Liz Mandeville  (from the album Heart ‘o’Chicago) - Liz Mandeville is sassy, slick and sings her Blues Old Style Chicago. Ms. Mandeville brings the tunes up-to-date with the story line crying the Blues about technology.

Listen to more music from Liz Mandeville from AMAZON or iTunes

36 - Cary Morin  (from the album Tiny Town) - The Americana Blues from the finger-picking styles of Native American, Cary Morin, shines on his third album release, Tiny Town. Cary is a member of the Crow nation, and the son of an Air Force officer dad. He grew up in Billings, Montana before relocating and fine-tuning in guitar skills in northern Colorado.

Listen to more music from Cary Morin from AMAZON or iTunes

37 - Stacy Mitchhart  (from the album Live My Life) - Stacy Mitchhart delivers a how-to guide on Live My Life, with a Blues shifting shapes that fast track Funk with Soul as it boasts on a uptown groove. Stacy Mitchhart reinvents The Beatles’ “Come Together” as dirty electric blues.

Listen to more music from Stacy Mitchhart from AMAZON or iTunes

38 - Steve Dawson   (from the album Rattlesnake Cage) - Canadian-based Steve Dawson is a top end producer, player, curator and frontrunner of West Coast Canadian Blues. Rattlesnake Cage lets its focus fall on Steve’s playing and the album shows track after track what a good choice that was to make.

Listen to more music from Steve Dawson from AMAZON or iTunes

39 - Jeffrey Halford  (from the album Rainmaker) - Rainmakeris the seventh album for Jeffrey Halford. Emotion has always been a central part of Jeffrey’s guitar playing, and it bleeds over into the cinematic textures of the songs on the album. The Healers take the Farfisa out of deep freeze as they draw a line in the sand, put a quarter on the needle, and set the groove to “Play Some Vinyl”.

Listen to more music from Jeffrey Halford from AMAZON or iTunes

40 - Selwyn Birchwood  (from the album Don’t Call No Ambulance) - On the title track “Don’t Call No Ambulance”, from his recent release, Selwyn Birchwood tells a tale of joy with six strings and lines like “don’t you call no ambulance, I’ll find my own ride home’. Selwyn Birchwood (guitar, lap steel, vocals) is a younger bluesman, yet there is a smoothness to his playing, and a slate of summer festival spots, that will have Selwyn become a major player in the Blues.

Listen to more music from Selwyn Birchwood from AMAZON or iTunes

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The Top 100 takes a full year to become a proper list. The number one spot changed hands several times in the past twelve months. Our mid-year list took a listen to albums released between January and June. The list seemed like it was running strong yet the releases in the tail end of the year came on strong. For me, Old Crow Medicine Show was number one when I received their July release, Remedy. Nothing against the other players on the 2014 chart, but band for band, Old Crow will always be in the top spot for their musicianship. Shovels and Rope moved into number one when they released Swimmin’ Time, and stayed there until just about the last minute. Sonically, S’n’R certainly delivered the year’s top album for blending the far edges of sound into songs that easily slip into familiarity. At the last moment, Lucinda Williams grabbed #1. Lucinda delivered an album well into a top shelf career that raised the bar for her own back catalog. Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone is an album that shows dedication by its maker to not be satisfied until the final mixes match her version of rock’n’roll….and then she doubled down with a two disc set.  

Songwriting, stretching limits and honoring tradition in American Roots music was the theme for 2015. Many of the artists on the chart such as Mary Gauthier, Paul Thorn, Rodney Crowell, Janiva Magness and Justin Townes Earle take a seat on the list with each release. The artists take a stand for their own sound as well as firmly planting feet into what they view as their own brand. St. Paul and the Broken Bones gave us a new look at old school Soul, Israel Nash snagged sound textures from early Neil Young solo releases and gave them a wider screen to play on, Steelism were instrumental in displaying music that went for emotions and Chris Smither gave his own songs new sonic life. Nell Robinson collected family correspondence from generations of war, including letters home within her own family, and laid them out in a full album form.

The American Roots community continues to grow in direct relationship to the quality and diversity that its artists are handing over new music for a format where the only requirements are authenticity and  honesty behind the words and music. On the strength of the 2014 releases, life goes on and walks prouder for Classic Country (The Hello Strangers, Moot Davis), Blues Rock (Bob Seger), Funky Soul (Mingo Fishtrap). Rock’n’Soul (The Reigning Sound) and Indie Roots (The Felice Brothers). Pretty much by the magic of music, Hard Working Americans became a band we have known our whole lives. The big names on the chart are here because of the music they released, not because of their name. John Mellencamp, Keb' Mo', Lee Ann Womack and Robert Cray put out albums that threw a curve for what you might expect, which is really what each album release should reflect.

In 2014, artists showed hometown pride while making music that had worldwide appeal; expanding on the community without ever giving up the ghosts sitting in the back row. The Earls of Leicester re-visited the songs of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, The Far West and Calico the band planted flags for California Country while Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin bonded over the music of Big Bill Bronzy. Though not first releases, Parker Milsap, Sturgill Simpson and Shakey Graves put out album that raised their presence. The Evangenitals re-worked the tale of Moby Dick and JP Harris and the Tough Choices took back Country music. Music Road Records gathered together artists such as Shawn Colvin, Paul Thorn, Bonnie Raitt, Ben Harper and Keb’ Mo’ to tribute the songs of Jackson Browne.

The American Roots releases of 2014 listed here could easily be listed as the first one hundred for an pretty amazing year for music. Coming up in 2015, new music is already beginning to appear with defining albums from Jorma Kaukonen and Anne McCue. I really like my job, and I hope you like the numerical list for 2014. This list the artists and albums in numerical order, with links to the Top 100 broken into four parts with images, music and  words for artists.        - Danny McCloskey

1 - Lucinda Williams – Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone 

2 -John Fullbright – Songs

3 - Shovels and Rope – Swimmin’ Time 

4 - Girls, Guns & Glory – from the album Good Luck

5 - Robert Ellis – The Lights from the Chemical Plant  

6 - Hard Working Americans  -  Hard Working Americans

7 -Hurray for the Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes

8- Mary Gauthier – Trouble and Love   

9 - Mike Farris – Shine on All the People

10 - Joe Louis Walker – Hornet’s Nest  

11 - Paul Thorn – Too Blessed to Be Stressed 

12 - Justin Townes Earle – Single Mothers  

13 - Old Crow Medicine Show – Remedy 

14 -The Howlin’ Brothers – Trouble

15- Seth Walker – Sky Still Blue

16 – The Earls of Leicester- The Earls of Leicester

17 - JP Harris and the Tough Choices – Home is Where the Hurt Is

18 – Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin – Common Ground: Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin Play and Sing the                                              Songs of Big Bill Bronzy

19 – Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds of Country

20 - Rodney Crowell    - Tarpaper Sky 

21 - Parker Milsap  - Parker Milsap

22 - Janiva Magness – Original

23 – Calico the band – Rancho California

24 -Rosanne Cash   - The River and The Thread

25 -Candi Staton – Life Happens

click for images, music and words on artists # 1 thru #25 of 2014

26 – Steelism – 615 to Fame

27- St. Paul and the Broken Bones – Half the City

28 – John Mellencamp – Plain Spoken

29 – Chuck Mead - Free State Serenade

30 – Israel Nash – Israel Nash’s Rain Plans

31 – Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes 

32 – Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen – Cold Spell

33 -Brent Johnson – Set the World on Fire

34 -Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coalition - Dark Night of the Soul

35 -Keb’ Mo’ – Bluesamericana

36 -Leftover Salmon – High Country

37 - Carlene Carter – Carter Girl

38- Will Kimbrough – Sideshow Love

39 - Queen Esther – The Other Side

40 -Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits

41 – John Hiatt – The Terms of My Surrender

42 – Dom Flemons – The American Songster Dom Flemons, Prospect Hill

43 – Nell Robinson – The Rose of No-Man’s Land

44 – The Hello Strangers - The Hello Strangers

45- The Holmes Brothers – Brotherhood 

46- Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons   - Hey Kid

47 – Eric Brace & Karl Straub – Hangtown Dancehall

48 – Adam Carroll – Let It Choose You

49 – Bob Seger – Ride Out

50 - Eden Brent – Jigsaw Heart

click for images, music and words on artists # 26 thru #50 of 2014

51 – Doug Seegers – Going Down to the River

52 – The Psycho Sisters – Up on the Chair, Beatrice

53 - The Mastersons -  Good Luck Charm

54 – The Far West – Any Day Now

55 – John Nemeth – Memphis Grease

56 - Amelia White – Old Postcard

57  - Eliza Gilkyson – The Nocturne Diaries

58 - Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin’ - Decisions

59 - Lydia Loveless – Somewhere Else

60 – Chris Smither – Still on the Levee

61 – Ruthie Foster – Promise of a Brand New Day

62 – Royal Southern Brotherhood – heartsoulblood 

63 – David Olney – When the Deal Goes Down

64 – Lee Ann Womack – The Way I’m Livin’ 

65 – Ronnie Fauss – Built to Break 

66 – Ellis Paul – Chasing Beauty

67 – The Reigning Sound – Shattered

68 - Jarekus Singleton – Refuse to Lose

69 - Zoe Muth – World of Strangers

70 -Blackie & the Rodeo Kings   South

71 -Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt – For Keeps

72– Billy Joe Shaver – Long in the Tooth 

73 - The New Basement Tapes – Lost on the River

74 –Malcolm Holcombe – Pitiful Blues

75 -Robert Cray – In My Soul

click for images, music and words on artists # 51 thru #75 of 2014

76 – The Apache Relay – The Apache Relay

77 - Shakey Graves – And the War Came

78 – Trampled by Turtles – Wild Animals

79 -Moot Davis – Goin’ in Hot

80 - Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne

81 - Susan Cattaneo  - Haunted Heart

82 - Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans

83- Jamestown Revival – Utah

84 –The Evangenitals – Moby Dick

85 - Amy Black – This Is Home

86 -Mingo Fishtrap – On Time 

87 – Corb Lund – Counterfeit Blues

88 – Cory Branan – The No-Hit Wonder

89 – The Felice Brothers - Favorite Waitress

90 -Matt Andersen  - Weightless

91 - Peter Mulvey – Silver Ladder

92 – Sarah Borges – Radio Sweetheart

93 –  Patrolled by Radar – Cool Your Jets

94 – Nathan Bell – Blood Like a River

95 – Whiskey Shivers – Whiskey Shivers

96 - Devon Allman – Ragged and Dirty 

97 – Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis –  Our Year

98 – Joe Fletcher – Songs for the Working Man

99 – Pieta Brown – Paradise Outlaw

100 - Chip Taylor – The Little Prayers Trilogy

click for images, music and words on artists # 76 thru #100 of 2014

Duane Allman was gone before the music he made took over the world. The brothers Allman, Duane and younger brother Gregg, were from Macon, GA. Gregg got a guitar first but Duane learned quicker. The brothers went to Nashville for summers to visit grandma, seeing B.B. King and soaking up sound. As time went on Duane immersed himself in the guitar, quitting the high school to stay home during the days and learn his instrument. The brothers formed The Allman Joys moving the band to Nashville then St. Louis, MO. The name changed to Hour Glass and the home base moved to Los Angeles, CA in 1967. For Duane’s twenty-second birthday, Gregg brought his big brother a bottle of cold pills for his fever and the new Taj Mahal record. Two hours later, Gregg’s phone rang. Duane had emptied the pills and taken the label off the bottle so he could play slide. Duane had never attempted to play slide guitar before and would be known for that playing it a lot afterwards.

Duane’s work with Hour Glass caught the ears of producers and he was plugged to play a Muscle Shoals recording session with Otis Redding, backing the singer on his rendition of “Hey Jude”. His playing drew attention at Atlantic Records and the guitarist was scheduled for sessions with Clarence Carter, Laura Nyro, King Curtis, Percy Sledge, Herbie Mann, Aretha Franklin, Otis Rush and more. He recorded the lead guitar for Boz Scaggs’ “Loan Me A Dime” shortly after his session for the Otis Redding track. The Allman Brothers Band got off to a clunky start with neither of their first two albums registering with listeners. Success came for Duane Allman in his own band with the release of Live at the Fillmore East and his guitar work for Derek and the Dominoes. Duane Allman passed away on October 29, 1971, several weeks after the release of Live at the Fillmore East and during its initial success. His motorcycle hit a truck that had stopped suddenly in an intersection and he died at the age of twenty-four years old.

Duane Allman lived for the music. When his soul crossed over, his spirit was kindly stayed around to be a part of the music that he cherished. . There are many reasons to appreciate Duane…here are Ten Reasons Why We Like Duane Allman.

1. “Still Want Your Love” – Hour Glass (from the album Power of Love) - Comprised of Duane and Gregg Allman alongside three future Muscle Shoals session men, Hour Glass was a 60’s rhythm and blues band. The power was in the hands of those that did not know how to handle it at Liberty Records and they positioned the group as a Pop act. Duane’s guitar weaves through the song with a psychedelic buzz in its riffs and soul in its step.

Listen and buy “Still Want Your Love” by Hour Glass from AMAZON or iTunes

2. “Games People Play” – King Curtis featuring Duane Allman  (from the album Duane Allman Anthology) - When King Curtis covered Joe South’s “Games People Play” as an instrumental the 1968 hit was still fresh. A jazzy soul in the rhythm is a good complement for Duane Allman’s subdued Leslie-amp distorted note patterns.

Listen and buy “Games People Play” by King Curtis from AMAZON or iTunes

3. “Don’t Want You No More” – The Allman Brothers Band   (from the album The Allman Brothers Band) - The Allman Brothers choose an instrumental to lead the charge on their 1969 debut. “Don’t Want You No More” was a Spencer Davis tune that the band wrestles into shape by putting sharp angles in the arrangement and smoothing them over with the slightly Latin Rock of its guitar notes.

Listen and buy “Don’t Want You No More” by The Allman Brothers Band from AMAZON or iTunes

4.  “The Weight” – Aretha Franklin featuring Duane Allman   (from the album Duane Allman Anthology) - It was Duane’s guitar work for Aretha that gave the band its legendary road man, Red Dog (Joseph L. Campbell). The guitar lead made Red Dog want to see the band live and after the show he stayed around to tell them how much he liked the playing. Before the band broke, Red Dog would hand over his military pension checks to the band to keep them afloat.

Listen and buy “The Weight” by Aretha Franklin from AMAZON or iTunes

5. “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’” – The Allman Brothers Band  (from the album Idlewild South) - Duane’s slide is ever-present on this cut from album number two for the Allman Brothers Band. The players seem happy to stay as rhythm while Duane’s guitar bends around the curves and holds the road while leaning way over the edge.

Listen and buy “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’” by The Allman Brothers Band from AMAZON or iTunes

6. “Statesboro Blues” – The Allman Brothers Band   (from the album Live at the Fillmore East) - Live at the Fillmore Eastwas the album that broke the Allmans and Blind Willie McTell’s ode to a little town in Georgia, “Statesboro Blues” led the charge as opening cut. After a quiet introduction Duane sets fire to the front row with searing leads that leave skid marks all over the song.

Listen and buy “Statesboro Blues” by The Allman Brothers Band from AMAZON or iTunes

7. “Loan Me A Dime” – Boz Scaggs featuring Duane Allman   (from the album My Time” A Boz Scaggs Anthology) - Coming on slow, “Loan Me A Dime” opens with organ and piano notes playing tag over a simmering drum beat walking through high noon on a hot day. Duane Allman plays all lead guitar on the track, biding his time and entering the song at over the one minute mark and taking charge.

Listen and buy “Loan Me a Dime” by Boz Scaggs from AMAZON or iTunes

8. “Tell the Truth” – Derek and the Dominoes   (from the album Layla and Other Assorted  Love Songs) - Duane Allman felt that it was easy to separate his lead guitar work from that of Eric Clapton on the Derek and the Dominoes project…..Eric played the Fender parts and Duane played the Gibson parts. On “Tell the Truth” it is an easier figure, as Duane slides in and stays on a slippery course with his guitar through the song.

Listen and buy “Tell the Truth” by Derek and the Dominoes from AMAZON or iTunes

9. “Little Martha” – The Allman Brothers Band   (from the album Eat A Peach) - “Little Martha” is the only Allman Brothers track written solely by its then group leader, Duane Allman. The song was recorded in October 1971, just several weeks before Duane’s untimely death.

Listen and buy “Little Martha” by The Allman Brothers Band from AMAZON or iTunes

10. “Duane Allman” – Amy Ray  (from the album Goodnight Tender) - Amy Ray twists and twangs a nod to one of the world’s greatest guitarists, Duane Allman. The story follows a woman with a guitar, up from Waycross as she puts her line in the sand, “Man it ain’t ever gonna be the same… you know I’ll give ‘em a chance but no one can play like Duane”. Duane Allman’s body of work ended with his death in 1971, but his guitar riffs continue to be a part of our lives.

Listen and buy “Duane Allman” by Amy Ray feat. Susan Tedeschi from AMAZON or iTunes

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51 – Doug Seegers – Going Down to the River    (10-7-14) - Not a typical Nashville success story but primed for a mini-series plot is the tale of Doug Seegers. Doug was frequently homeless in Music City when he got a gig at a local food pantry. A Swedish country music star stopped in for a bite and ordered superstardom-to-go, trading the streets of Nashville for the top of the charts in a country best known for producing Abba. Doug Seegers wondered ‘who is Abba?’, understandable for a guy who grew up on the hard-country heart of Hank Williams and Cosmic California Country in the heart-first music of Gram Parsons. Doug lived in abandoned buildings in Manhattan where he ‘made a ton of money playing out in the streets’ and ‘ate and breathed everything John Lennon’.  He met Buddy Miller on a move to Austin and his old friend guests on Going Down to the River, the most recent release for Doug Seegers. Marrying his past listening with the current recording, he welcomes Emmylou Harris to duet on Gram Parsons “She”, a track she made famous duetting with the song’s author.

Listen and buy music from Doug Seegers from AMAZON or iTunes

52 – The Psycho Sisters – Up on the Chair, Beatrice   (8-5-14) - Vicki Peterson (The Bangles) was friends and bandmates with Susan Cowsill before Vicki formally became a Cowsill, marrying brother John in 2003, but the pair were already sisters of sound. They met and teamed up in 1989, touring Europe in the early 1990’s as The Psycho Sisters opening for Giant Sand and Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate).  The pair instantly became gotta-get background singers working with Jules Shear, Belinda Carlisle and Hootie and the Blowfish and they joined an all-star cast for the Roots/Americana band, The Continental Drifters. The Psycho Sisters had talked about an album over the years and in 1991 Susan points out that the pair were ‘not doing anything for a minute’ and entered Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana to record their debut, Up on This Chair, Beatrice.

Listen and buy the music of The Psycho Sisters from AMAZON or iTunes

53 - The Mastersons -  Good Luck Charm   (7-8-14) - The Mastersons, Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore, are together a lot as they share wedding rings and a marital bed as well as stages for a band career and as working members of the Steve Earle backing band.  Good Luck Charm is The Masterson’s second release for New West Records. Eleanor views Good Luck Charm as ‘this is a more purpose-driven album. The first record was kind of his hers, but this one is entirely ours.’ Chris harmonized on that overview seeing time on the road “playing a few hundred shows a year has really solidified us as a band and focused our vision for the new record. Every song is crafted for the two of us.’

Listen and buy the music of The Mastersons from AMAZON or iTunes

54 – The Far West – Any Day Now   (2-25-14) - Any Day Nowscribbles its songs on an Alt Country canvas. “The Bright Side” hits the gate at a quick clip, as Aaron Bakker’s guitar licks bring light into the dark corners hidden from the tunes rust-colored glasses while “These Arms Will Be Empty” sets a slow pace for The Far West as they move towards the exit door of love.

Listen and buy the music of The Far West from AMAZON or iTunes

55 – John Nemeth – Memphis Grease   (3-25-14) - Since their inception, The Bo-Keys have been a band on the inside of a hot groove in their hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. In the early parts of their careers, members of The Bo-Keys performed in B.B. King’s orchestra and anchored the Hi Rhythm Section. The first referral John Németh for Memphis Grease wasScott Bomar, who had worked with Willie Mitchel and Al Green. Skip Pitts started The Bo-Keys with Scott and laid down the wah-wah guitar intro to ‘The Theme from Shaft” in the 1970’s.  Trumpeter Ben Cauley was with school-kid funk band The Bar-Keys. The group’s hit “Soul Finger” got them a gig as backing band for Otis Redding and put them on board for the plane crash that took his life, leaving Ben as the only survivor of the disaster. Drummer Howard Grimes’ can be heard keeping the beat for recordings by Rufus and Carla Thomas, O.V. Wright and Ann Peebles. Memphis Greaseis the album the John Németh put together with the help of The Bo-Keys.

Listen and buy the music of John Nemeth from AMAZON or iTunes

56 - Amelia White – Old Postcard   (3-4-14) - When Amelia White left home at eighteen years old, she packed her songs with her. Amelia and her music established an early relationship that soon became at odds with parental guidelines; ‘I knew what I wanted at an early age and their disapproval lit a fire. I listened over and over to my brother's records: Neil Young, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters, and I wanted to know them all, I wanted to be them.’ Amelia White found a sense of family in her East Nashville digs; friends, outcasts, lovers who share the same musical drive, and sensitivity to heartache. The ghosts that take shape on Old Postcard all know Amelia by name, though some of the tunes share the thoughts of others. “Hollow Heart” is wisps of smoke that clear to show the longing of a motherless child, and “Big Blue Sun” rises over an ever-growing tide of incoming normalcy.

Listen and buy the music of Amelia White from AMAZON or iTunes

57  - Eliza Gilkyson – The Nocturne Diaries (3-18-14) - The Nocturne Diariesis a meeting ground for Eliza Gilkyson. It is a place where her highest hopes and darkest fears face off. A line from Eliza sums up the stage where her songs to act out their tales, “for me, the challenge today is to remain human when everything around us compels us to shut down”. The strength in Eliza Gilkyson’s voice that makes these songs all feel like first person narratives. She stands beside the definition of the Folk Musician, the traveling troubadour who takes the times from town to town in her stories, lovingly passing on news through her music.

Listen and buy the music of Eliza Gilkyson from AMAZON or iTunes

58 - Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin’   (4-15-14) - Decisions celebrates the sound of The King of the Chitlin’ Circuit, as dubbed by Rolling Stone for his 50+ year career. Bobby and Blinddog Smokin’ do a playful tease on “Skinny Little Woman”, strut a steamy slide through “If That’s the Way You Like It” as the story shows belief in asking for what you want. A career of fifty years and Bobby has got the whole tour thing down. He spends time talking about road life in the third person on “Bobby Rush’s Blues”, throws out a challenge to all comers as he proudly wears “Funky Old Man” and puts out his shingle over the bass-boom street beat of “Dr. Rush”. Decisions is an excellent party album and gets you ready for the morning after with “Too Much Weekend” and the laundry lists of alibis it provides, all boiling down to ‘I cannot come to work today’.  

Listen and buy the music of Bobby Rush from AMAZON or iTunes

59 - Lydia Loveless – Somewhere Else   (1-18-14) - Lydia Loveless confidently offers songs that balance the love of classic country and the frank honesty of formative years spent in the ‘punk rules’ environs of Columbus, Ohio. Lydia Loveless could have easily taken the Sunset Strip of the late 80’s Cowpunk days that flew a Black Flag while saluting Hank Williams. Somewhere Else, however, does not need cubbyholes or categories to define it. The tracks lock arms with the same DIY punk attitude found in their stories; twanged flavor, distorted effect, three-chords-and-the-truth on Somewhere Else.

Listen and buy the music of Lydia Loveless from AMAZON or iTunes

60 – Chris Smither – Still on the Levee    (7-22-14) - Chris Smither brand of folk has always has the echo of Country Blues in its vocals and riffs.  It is like visiting old friends and family when you hear cover versions of favorite songs. Hearing those tunes recorded by the man that imprinted those songs on your brain raises the ante on audio memory. Cuts from Chris’ first recordings are on board on the double disc as well as more recent tunes,

Listen and buy the music of Chris Smither from AMAZON or iTunes

61 – Ruthie Foster – Promise of a Brand New Day      (8-19-14) - Ruthie Foster has given the world a great gift with her voice and her songs. Ever wonder what gives Ruthie a reason to get up in the morning? The answer opens Promise of a New Day, the latest release from Ruthie Foster. What lights the lady up is “Singing the Blues”. Diversity in her style is a constant for Ruthie Foster, and her rhythms are her children, with each one getting attention, and she tells of big love for reggae, soul and rock’n’roll in the tune. When she is ‘staring at the mirror” though, and the crowds are gone, the only option for getting high is more than likely Bobby Bland.

Listen and buy the music of Ruthie Foster from AMAZON or iTunes

62 – Royal Southern Brotherhood – heartsoulblood   (6-10-14) - Heartsoulbloodis the sound of a band that intuitively understands its Royal Southern Brotherhood. That is not really a difficult task for these guys. Touring, and being in a band, is a relationship. Heartsoulblood subtly showcases writers who can not only hear their parts but have an intuitive knowledge of their fellow band members well enough to predict the future for their parts. The music, and the songs, of Royal Southern Brotherhood is Blues Rock. The guys are not here to gently lull you, steady your nerves or give release from a tough work week. Those things will occur, of course, but only if your exit from your day-to-day is very real, and very loudly pokes a sharp, well-tuned stick at the status quo.

Listen and buy the music of Royal Southern Brotherhood from AMAZON or iTunes

63 – David Olney – When the Deal Goes Down    (7-8-14) - David Olney has released more than 20 albums over four decades, including six live recordings. His music is featured on television (Nashville) and his songs have been recorded by artists including Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Del McCoury. When the Deal Goes Down shuffles its Blues rambling through variations in of Country, Texas Shuffle, and Lounge styles.

Listen and buy music from Lee Ann Womack from AMAZON or iTunes

64 – Lee Ann Womack – The Way I’m Livin’    (9-23-14) - Lee Ann Womack seasons her traditional take on country music with a Americana, Folk and Bluegrass samples on her most recent release, The Way I’m Livin’. On tunes penned with passion, Lee Ann drifts and drives her voice over the tracks on the album with the emotion needed to flesh out stories of love and loss.

Listen and buy music from Lee Ann Womack from AMAZON or iTunes

65 – Ronnie Fauss – Built to Break   (11-4-14) - Most singer have a song. What separates Singer/Songwriters from the singers and songs is the way they come up to a song. Women and men who believe in the song telling the story, that is the kind of album the Ronnie Fauss made with Built to Break. He sticks to a country backing whether he runs it through its Alt rock relatives, front porch folk, blue twang or full frontal rock’n’roll with Rhett Miller singing the glories of long haul trucking.

Listen and buy music from Ronnie Fauss from AMAZON or iTunes

66 – Ellis Paul – Chasing Beauty - Ellis Paul is Chasing Beauty, using the personal influences of inspiration from his own heroes. The album, produced by Kristian Bush of Sugarland and Brandon Bush of Train, captures tracks a year and half in the making. Among the varied stories of accomplishment, Ellis Paul weaves in a little bit of himself with views on the current state of life in America. He feels Chasing Beauty is an adult-themed record, describing it as ‘a story teller’s record.

Listen and buy music from Ellis Paul from AMAZON or iTunes

67 – The Reigning Sound – Shattered   (7-15-14) - Shatteredpresents The Reigning Sound on the same stage as the early 60’s British bands who played rock’n’roll, but grew up in range of German airwaves carrying American R&B 45’s that the soldiers carried with them around the world. Recording at Daptone Studios gives the group a rock and soul sound, albeit one that rehearses, and sounds real good, in the garage.

Listen and buy the music of The Reigning Sound from AMAZON or iTunes

68 - Jarekus Singleton – Refuse to Lose   (5-6-14) - Refuse to Lose   (5-6-14) - You can hear the Blues in music of Jarekus Singleton and, like all players worth a listen, he makes his own Blues rules. Roots is in his music, and as an influence, one that has the same effect on cultural hotspots as the gospel and hip-hop that add touches to the songs of the twenty-something year-old. Jarekus Singleton may get some ‘young, Robert Cary’ descriptions and if using age and abilities are the qualifiers, sure. What the two more obviously share is an ability to take a heritage strain of music, like the Blues, and not only make it contemporary but also competitive with any other style claiming chart space in 2014.

Listen and buy the music of Jarekus Singleton from Amazon or iTunes

69 - Zoe Muth – World of Strangers   (5-27-14) - Zoe Muth has gotten attention for the details she uses to describe her characters as much as for the natural combination of Soul and Country that sound track the stories. The songs on World of Strangers, her recent release, continue to introduce gentle souls trying to hold on against stiff wind and weather of life.  The twang touch that Zoe Muth has loaded into past recordings is present on World of Strangers with songs like “Too Shiny”. “Make Me Change My Mind” has a percolating twanged groove set on automatic as a fuzz forms over the drumbeat sliding in and out of the arrangement with little fanfare but making for a big difference in the sound. Zoe Muth has a talent for giving her characters an inner glow from the spirits of her delivery. She is a welcoming host and makes sure that she is ready for visitors to stay a while by capably providing a full album listen.

Listen and buy the music of Zoe Muth from Amazon or iTunes

70 -Blackie & the Rodeo Kings   South   (1-14-14) - Blackie and the Rodeo Kings recent release, South, showcases all the possibilities the American Root format can hold by crafting an album with familiar twangs, string twists and rhythms that are take a rotating musical merry-go-round. South opens with dueling compass points. The direction is set in track number one by the song title, the Tom Wilson folk blues “North”, and its number two track in line taps the title track, a Colin Linden tune. A bass line thrust becomes an undertow as the seasons change in “Summertime’s Over”; Colin’s guitar throwing riffs as an entry for Stephen Fearing’s voice to float on the misty organ and slide guitar bends in “I'd Have To Be a Stone”, and an island breeze rhythm sways the curtain aside to two long-time partners who are trying to re-invigorate a relationship by “Reinventing the Wheel of Love”.  Blackie and the Rodeo Kings must light the studio up when they return from their tours and projects. There is a joy in the songs on South that is an obvious extension of the men in BARK.

Listen and buy the music of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings from Amazon or iTunes

71 -Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt – For Keeps    (5-13-14) - For Keeps, the debut album from Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt as a recoding duo, stands as a present reflection of its songwriters lives as it reaches back to times when the pair were tangled up together on tour, unraveling enough of the world to become entwined romantically, then artistically. For Keeps spends a lot of time observing the love passing it by. Given the theme, it seems only right that “Kiss Me Now” makes the track listing. The song was Danny’s marriage proposal to Carrie during the 2013 SXSW festival. For Keeps, and the relationship of Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt, are linked; they share history, and listening is way better than home movies.  

Listen and buy the music of Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkins from Amazon or iTunes

72– Billy Joe Shaver –  Long in the Tooth    (8-5-14) - Getting there was not easy, and took a while. Given that, the title of Billy Joe Shaver’s most recent release, Long in the Tooth, makes perfect sense. Billy Joe claims it is his best album to date. The album comes out through Lightning Rod Records and takes a stand, presenting the man with his name on the cover as an unrepentant outlaw singer/songwriter. Raw riff clear a path to the microphone in the title track for Billy Joe to spit rhymes over a street beat. The songs on Long in the Tooth are branded BJS though the sound heritage varies from track to track.

Listen and buy the music of Billy Joe Shaver from Amazon or iTunes

73 - The New Basement Tapes – Lost on the River    (11-10-14) - It is a late night, and you are sitting around a kitchen table sharing and talking about projects. Hey, what about doing the lost tapes that Dylan probably wrote in the period between his motorcycle accident (July 29, 1966) and the first recordings in the spring of 1967 in the "Red Room" in Dylan's house, where the first recordings of The Basement Tapes took place with The Band. Certainly good subject matter…add in you are sitting at the table with T-Bone Burnett (producer), Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Marcus Mumford (Mumford and Sons).

Listen and buy the music of The New Basement Tapes from Amazon or iTunes

74 –Malcolm Holcombe -  Pitiful Blues  (1-21-14) - Malcolm Holcombe’s voice is captured with all of its nuances up front letting his sighs, groans and shudders accent the words. The rawness that was heard on the early days of the album’s songs is evident on “The Music Plays On” with its feel of a late night jam after the paying customers have gone home with still lots of night left on Lower Broadway.

Listen and buy the music of Malcolm Holcombe from AMAZON or iTunes

75 -Robert Cray – In My Soul   (4-1-14) - Quality is to be expected when Robert Cray puts his name on an album cover. Robert is a 15x nominee, 5x Grammy winner and one of the youngest musicians, at 57 years old, to be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. In My Soul, the latest release by the Robert Cray Band, is delivered with the same attention to detail, relaxed playing, and smooth vocals found in the man’s previous sixteen studio albums and twelve million records sold.  In My Soul focuses on one influence in the music of Robert Cray and Soul powers the album. As In My Soul watches its needles edge towards the end of the album, the Robert Cray Band go down a little bit further into the blue mood that colors the Soul dance floor on the record. “Deep in My Soul” tingles like a chill up your spine and a cool breeze against your skin.

Listen and buy the music of Robert Cray Band from Amazon or iTunes

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The Top 10 of the Top 10 Songs of the Week for 2015 features only tracks that landed in the Number One spot….and a year of such great releases it is a feat alone to make the #1. It is hard to choose between 48 weeks of #1 so I leveled the field by picking my number one favorites. Many of these artists, like Mike Farris and Rosanne Cash, have garnered Grammy nods for their work. That is a good start for the work of American Roots artists as they make modern in-roads into folk, country, rock, bluegrass and blues. Mike Farris joined the gospel choir looking to rock the house and up the higher ante. Rosanne Cash took a family vacation with husband producer John Leventhal and showed audio home movies that Grammy voters loved enough to nominate in three categories. Sisters in song and through marriage, Susan Cowsill and Vicki Peterson polished roots into 60’s AM gold for their release as The Psycho Sisters, Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers formed a line from Cambridge to Memphis as they trace the step to “The Delta Swing” and Alynda Lee Segarra featured abridged lyrics and simple acoustics for the Hurray for the Riff Raff take on “San Francisco Bay Blues”. East Nashville (Jon Byrd), Austin (Paul Thorn) and Boston, Mass (Ward Hayden of Girls, Guns & Glory and Sarah Borges) all take a spot on the Top 10. Zoe Muth pops in her headphones to relax as she rounds out the Top 10 with “Mama Needs a Maragarita” on The Alternate Root Top 10 of The Alternate Root Top 10 Songs of the Week for 2014. In the review, today’s thoughts start the review and the words of the past are italicized.

01 – “Mercy Now” – Mike Farris   (from the album Shine for All the People( (from September 9, 2014)  -  Mike Farris raised his voice for Roots Gospel in 2014 with Shine for All the People. The tracks reimagined marry Black Spirituals from the early nineteenth century with songs that share sentiments for a modern time, such as Mike’s taking control of Mary Gauthier “Mercy Now with electric guitar wrapped in soft organ chords and grounding bass lines balanced with a heavenly whispers.  Congratulations to Mike Farris for garnering a Grammy nod in the Roots Gospel category.

I wonder how songwriters feel when their tunes grow up? Mike Farris has been performing Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now” for several years, branding his version. The style that called to Mike was turn-of-the-century (last century) black spiritual music that he has taken as a mission to give to the world on a larger platform. “Mercy Now” fits perfectly among the traditional songs of spirit on his recent release, Shine for All the People.

Listen and buy “Mercy Now” by Mike Farris from AMAZON or iTunes

02 Etta’s Tune – Rosanne Cash   (from the album The River and The Thread)  (from February 5, 2014) - Rosanne Cash carved a singer/songwriter curve into County music, crossing borders with her Seven Year Itch album release (1981) with 3 Top 10 singles and finishing a three album run with Rhythm and Romance grabbing the top spot with four singles including the Rodney Crowell co-write, “Baby Better Start Turning Them Down” (a Grammy 1985 winner for Country single).  We congratulate Rosanne Cash for three Grammy nominations in the Best Americana album, Best American Roots performance (“A Feather’s Not a Bird”) and Best American Roots song (“A Feather’s Not a Bird”) categories.

Marshall Grant was the upright and electric bassist for Johnny Cash’s back-up band, the Tennessee Two. On the road trip that became an album, Rosanne Cash and husband John Leventhal spent time with Etta Grant, Marshall’s wife. Rosanne shared the story of the song and the relationship; “Etta told me that every morning of their lives, they got up and he (Marshall Grant) said to her, ‘What’s the temperature, darling?’ I thought, that is such a practical, sweet way to start the day. And John said, ‘That’s the first line of a song.’ When Marshall died in 2011 (he was 83) we wrote ‘Etta’s Tune.’ That’s the first one we wrote for the album (The River and The Thread).”

Listen and buy “Etta’s Tune” by Rosanne Cash from AMAZON or iTunes

03 “Timberline” - The Psycho Sisters (from the album Up on the Chair, Beatrice)   (from July 16, 2014) - Susan Cowsill and sister-in-law Vicki Peterson bring The Continental Drifters back in the guitar echoes of The Psycho Sisters. Scratchy rock’n’roll slithers along as the ladies join the voices to rise up the tree levelin “Timberline” as they border Roots with 60’s Pop Rock’n’Roll.

Our formative years follow us.  Susan Cowsill and Vicki Peterson (Cowsill) have been roots women ground zero as Continental Divide and The Psycho Sisters, lending backing vocals for Giant Sand. They have been Indie banner bearers and yet the early time spent shows through. Susan didn’t have a chance to sidestep a natural lean towards Pop in her songs as a member of The Cowsills, and Vicki Peterson was a founding member of The Bangles (nee’ The Bangs), whose Indie Rock cool took on a quick Pop gloss. The overall history of both bands shows artists staying true to rock’n’roll yet crossing over into the Pop supermarket. On a co-write for the upcoming release from The Psycho Sisters, they talk high country but the sweet sound of Pop still manages to rise up the “Timberline”.

Listen and buy “Timberline” by The Psycho Sisters from AMAZON or iTunes

04 The Delta Swing – Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers   (from the album Love Whip Blues) (from November 1, 2014) - Erin Harpe lays down a formation bass line as she slithers along the Emerald Necklace, swinging the blues of the Delta Swingers from home ground in Cambridge and down to JP (Jamaica Plains). She hops a freight car to Memphis without losing a beat as she steps to “The Delta Swing”.

Erin Harpe struts onto Live Whip Blue, her most recent release backed by The Delta Swingers. The tune rolls rhythm as a new dance craze taking over Cambridge, Jamaica Plains and down in Memphis as Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers show you how to do “The Delta Swing”.

Listen and buy “Song in Your Head” by Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers from AMAZON or iTunes

05 “Smile and a Little Skin” – Kelly Willis  (from the album Hangtown Dancehall)  (from April 16, 2014) - A gentle sway takes Kelly Willis’ song onto the floor for a spin.Hangtown Dancehall continues to grab stages nationwide for the Eric Brace and Karl Straub’s string band musical that Tim Rice has called ‘muscular and tuneful,…wordy and gritty’.

The company of the new Eric Brace and Karl Straub musical, Hangtown Dancehall, give up the stage for one of their own as Kelly Willis finds the center spot to tell her tale of life as a dancehall gal. Her routine has become routine….get dressed up pretty, dance around, show “Smile and a Little Skin”, get up early to find another town and repeat.

Listen and buy “Smile and A Little Skin” by Kelly Willis from AMAZON or iTunes

06 “The New SF Bay Blues” – Hurray for the Riff Raff   (from the album Small Town Heroes) (from April 2, 2014) - Hurray for the Riff Raff have traded street corners for major stages worldwide without ever forgetting those patrons that kept their music alive when they were busking New Orleans and selling cassette tapes of the Roots Folk. Alynda Lee Segarra adds lines and heft to a folk tune written by Jesse Fuller in 1954.

Alynda Lee Segarra adds to a classic folk blues track set in the fog rolling in from the mighty Pacific Ocean. As clouds of mist barrel under the Golden Gate Bridge they will find Hurray for the Riff Raff down to woman, guitar and the sadness that comes with great love.

Listen and buy “The New SF Bay Blues” by Hurray for the Riff Raff from AMAZON or iTunes

07 Would You Like to Dance - Jon Byrd  ) (from the album Route 41) (from October 11, 2014) - The vocals of Jon Byrd on his take for “Would You Like to Dance” float over the country sway on the track. Route 41 puts Jon Byrd in the back seat picking as the tracks of other singer/songwriter dive.

Jon Byrd put his pen down for a new release, Route 41. The songs gathered are ones Jon has met across his road and performing years. Jon Byrd sings a smooth country gentleman whose charm might get him a partner on Adam Wright’s “Would You Like to Dance”.

Listen and buy “Would You Like to Dance” by Jon Byrd from Jon’s website

08 Too Blessed to be Stressed - Paul Thorn  (from the album Too Blessed to Be Stressed) (from July 20, 2014) - Paul Thorn spent four weeks on the Top 10 in the #1 spot with different tracks leading up to his album release, and rightfully so. If you feel the spirit in this song think about the tune taking steroids and check out the effect of a Paul Thorn Band live show.

There are many visual aids that pass our eyes during the course of a day. Paul Thorn give three examples to look for; the little things they just might make your smile iron out the speed bumps and fill in the potholes that sometimes litter our path. Please feel free to join Paul and the McCrary Sisters with the chorus of “Too Blessed to be Stressed”.

Listen and buy “Too Blessed to be Stressed” by Paul Thorn from AMAZON or iTunes

09 Get as Gone as Gone Can Get – Girls, Guns and Glory with featuring Sarah Borges (7’ vinyl single) (from July 02, 2014) - A two-sided single featuring “Baby Don’t Go” and “Get as Gone as Gone Can Get” came through last summer. This side grabbed the #1 spot with wobbly rockabilly guitar crunch powered by Roots sirens of the male (Ward Hayden) and female (Sarah Borges) variety.

What do you get when two of Boston's hottest rock and roll singers join forces? You get this song! "Get As Gone Can Get" is a new duet from Sarah Borges and Ward Hayden of Girls Guns And Glory, with the GGG boys backing them. With a kind of 50's feel, like you're at a modern day sock hop, this song just brings the goods! The two Boston based rockers trade vocals around a driving guitar sound that defines HIGH ENERGY! Rock and Roll is NOT dead!!  (JM)  Girls, Guns and Glory teamed up with one of their favorites Ms. Sarah Borges to record a two-sided vinyl 7″ record.

10 “Mama needs A Margaita”  – Zoe Muth   (from the album World of Strangers)  (from May 14, 2014) - Closing out the Top 10 of the Top 10 is a track that took #1 on Mother’s Day week. It takes us home as Mama puts the kids to bed, knocks back a Margarita and plays a tune from her dream jukebox.

A special week for Mom, Moms, Mama’s and Mother’s worldwide as the Top Ten starts off with a tune for Mother’s Day 2014. Zoe Muth takes on the role of American Mother on a track going out to two-steppers and two-timers, as seven sins and one-liners tip glasses back and call out for one more. No need to hunt for a belated Mothers Day gift …”Mama Needs a Margarita”, a slow song and some strong arms to lead her, a pretty red dress and a new pair of shoes, a long straight highway with no cops to get in my way, a Texas road house and a band to play the Blues’....somebody get the lady a drink!

Listen and buy “Mama Needs a Margarita” by Zoe Muth from AMAZON or iTunes

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the alternate root top female blues artistsMa Rainey, Bessie Smith, Victoria Spivey, Helen Humes, Sippie Wallace, are names equally as famous in blues music history as Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Muddy Waters or Howlin' Wolf. Women were among the original innovators and performers of the blues. Women blues singers were among the first to be recorded. They hold as important a place in the history of traditional American blues as any men, and today, they are leading the way forward, creating a revival of blues music.

As we say goodbye to March and "Women's History Month," we're closing it out with a list of 30 women who are tearing it up on the blues circuit today and making some of the most electrifying and creative blues music out there. Some have been doing it for decades and some are newcomers that have gathered the souvenirs left on the path by the past and current masters. All of these women can sing with broad ranges of emotion and power. Some of these women are extraordinary guitar players as well, and all of them are consummate performers.

We've included a sampler for this list with the hope that many of you will discover new sounds and reconnect with some old ones you may have forgotten, and go out there and support independent music. It's not a history lesson of the genre. It's the opinion of our staff with help from some musicians we respect and some friends in radio and print media. It's more about today than yesterday. So here it is...The Alternate Root's 30 Women Burning Up the Blues! Enjoy!


rory block in the alternate rootRory Block - Many have been crowned "Queen of the Blues" including our number two on this list, but Rory Block is the true "Matriarch" of the family. Rory Block is the most authentic purveyor of the traditions that are the foundation of American Blues music, and she's a master of most of its forms. She ran away from home at age 15 and landed at the footsteps of the giants, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Bukka White, Skip James, Reverend Gary Davis and Mississippi John Hurt whom she now pays tribute to with a series of albums dedicated to her mentors. A monster guitar player, Rory is in a class by herself as a living legend of the blues.Her most recent release tributed Rev. Gary Davis, I Belong to the Band.

Listen and buy music from Rory Block from AMAZON or iTunes

shemekia copeland in the alternate rootShemekia Copeland - The daughter of guitar slinger and blues singer Johnny Copeland, Shemekia has the purest "blues" voice on the list, getting her start in her teens as the opening act for her then ailing father. She scored a choice gig for a debut album with Alligator Records in 1998 and has released a continuous flow of award winning and critically acclaimed albums since. Dubbed "Queen of the Blues" to succeed the late KoKo Taylor by Taylor's daughter Cookie, Shemekia's voice is guttural and powerful like the blues belters Koko Taylor, Etta James and Bessie Smith, but she can also reach down range for emotion in the vein of her idol Ruth Brown.  33 1/3 is her most recent release.

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deborah coleman in the alternate rootDeborah Coleman - The female incarnation of Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, Deborah Coleman is one of the most sought-after and highly respected blues performers in the world. Though not as commercially successful or instantly recognizable as Bonnie Raitt, Coleman is the premier female blues guitarist/singer combination. She can tackle Chicago, delta and Texas blues with fluidity and skill both vocally and instrumentally. An incendiary performer, she's a staple at major festivals around the globe.

Listen and buy the music of Deborah Coleman from AMAZON or iTunes

susan tedeschi in the alternate rootSusan Tedeschi - Susan Tedeschi started out in Boston playing the local blues circuit at age 13. After attending Berklee School of Music, she formed her first blues band and released her debut album, 'Just Won't Burn,' in 1998. Vocally she drifts between Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt with boosts of raw power and graceful, smooth soul. After a successful solo career, she teamed up with husband Derek Trucks to form Tedeschi Trucks, one of the top bands in the country. Though an amalgam of Southern Rock and Blues make up the Tedeschi Trucks sound, Susan Tedeschi can still 'bring it' at any given moment.

Listen and buy the music of Susan Tedeschi from AMAZON or iTunes

cindy cashdollar in the alternate rootCindy Cashdollar - It would be easier to list the legendary performers that Cindy Cashdollar has not performed with as a guitar player than those performers who have retained her services and immense talent. She can play any style of music with incredible precision and historical accuracy bouncing between Texas swing, bluegrass and gut-wrenching blues. She is the only non-singing performer on this list, preferring to let steel guitar and dobro wizardry serve as her calling card.

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tracy nelson in the alternate rootTracy Nelson - Tracy Nelson is still belting it out 49 years after her first release with the same soulful fury. She's shared the stage with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead and broken bread with Willie Nelson, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Irma Thomas. Through all of that and six albums with her band Mother Earth, Tracy Nelson has never received the full recognition she deserves as one of the great female contributors to the post-war era blues. Her collaboration with Angela Strehli, Dorothy Morrison and Annie Sampson called "Blues Broads" has received global critical acclaim. Victim of the Blues was the last Tracy Nelson studio album.

Listen and buy the music of Tracy Nelson  from AMAZON or iTunes

bonnie raitt in the alternate rootBonnie Raitt - She's probably the most recognizable female blues artist in the world and well known as a guitar slinger to boot. Bonnie Raitt has been electrifying audiences and influencing young musicians for four decades, and she has the awards and accolades from numerous sources to prove it. Though her career skyrocketed early and ebbed for a period, she came back with a vengeance in 1989 and has been on a solid trajectory ever since. She's been recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 100 greatest singers and 100 greatest guitar players of all time -- the only woman to have that prestigous recognition.

Listen and buy the music of Bonnie Raitt from AMAZON or iTunes

 
cee cee james in the alternate rootCee Cee James - Cee Cee James is one of those performers who comes across with more fire and fever when experienced live than is able to be captured on a recording. Stevie Ray Vaughan was often described the same way. She has a blistering voice that reaches for every ounce of emotion, sweat and raw power that she can muster. Cee Cee James is old-school blues...a steamy, sexy delivery of smokey back room stories spread over a bed of greasy slide guitar and pumping rhythms. She oozes blues.

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lou ann barton in the alternate rootLou Ann Barton - Lou Ann Barton was a founding member of Double Trouble along with Stevie Ray Vaughan and revitalized the Texas blues sound in the 1970's along with bands like The Fabulous Thunderbirds and the W.C. Clark Review. Not unlike many blues artists of her caliber, her solo work has always been well received critically while gaining only modest success commercially. Today, she tours as part of Jimmie Vaughan's band Tilt-A-Whirl and she's widely recognized as one of the best live blues singers.

Listen and buy the music of Lou Ann Barton from AMAZON or iTunes

angela strehli in the alternate rootAngela Strehli - A historian of Texas blues, Angela Strehli is credited with being one of the keystones in the Austin blues scene of the 1980's along with Clifford Antone, the Vaughan Brothers and The Fabulous Thunderbirds founder, Kim Wilson. She's had only a modest recording career in spite of being mentioned in most conversations that include influential blues performers or contributors. Vocally, she glides from the range of Bette Midler to the soul of Tracy Nelson to the grace of Marcia Ball, often in the same song.

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ana popovic in the alternate rootAna Popovic - The heir apparent to Bonnie Raitt or Deborah Coleman as the top female blues guitarist/singer combo, Ana Popovic exploded out of the active European blues scene in the late 1990's and has been collecting awards globally ever since. Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Popovic learned the blues through and extensive collection of American blues recordings that her father owned and shared with her. She studied jazz guitar in the Netherlands and applied the elements to her style and tone, winning her instant recognition on the European circuit as one of the best new guitarists. She possesses a deadly combination of smooth, supple vocal delivery and extensive knowledge of traditional blues styles.

Listen and buy the music of Ana Popovic from AMAZON or iTunes

marcia ball in the alternate rootMarcia Ball - Piano master Marcia Ball is one of the grand women of late century blues, enjoying her greatest moments of success in the 1980's and 90's although she continues to perform and record at the top of her game today. She was born in Texas but grew up in Louisiana and gets her greatest influences from the indigenous music of the Gulf Coast; zydeco, cajun, swamp blues and the boogie-woogie sounds that vibrate from Bourbon Street. Her silky smooth vocals are a delight with hints of Roberta Flack and Maria Muldaur.

Listen and buy the music of Marcia Ball from AMAZON or iTunes

sue foley in the alternate rootSue Foley - Another of the major female talents to rise out of the vibrant Austin blues scene, Canadian-born Sue Foley may be best known for her recent work with soul mate Peter Karp, but she has a substantial solo career to look back on as well. She was one of the more successful blues singers on the first Antone's label recordings in the early 1990's. Sue Foley has received high praise as a terrific guitar player with a soulful, passionate voice.

Listen and buy the music of Sue Foley from AMAZON or iTunes

carolyn wonderland in the alternate rootCarolyn Wonderland - There are guitar "goddesses" and Carolyn Wonderland is one of them. She's also one the most soulful singers on the modern blues circuit, although her music is far from straight on blues. She can go rogue at any moment and often does, drifting into Cajun, country, rock and soul with uncanny ease. A multi-instrumentalist, Carolyn Wonderland is accomplished on accordion, trumpet and keyboards, in addition to her renowned guitar skills. She has credit on some 20 plus recordings, including six critically acclaimed solo albums.

Listen and buy the music of Carolyn Wonderland from AMAZON or iTunes

eden brent in the alternate rootEden Brent - Critics have placed her somewhere between Bessie Smith, Diana Krall and Janis Joplin which is a good place to be if you're Eden Brent. The virtuoso piano player studied under Mississippi delta blues pioneer "Boogaloo" Ames for over 15 years and is single handedly keeping the authentic boogie style blues of the delta alive. Ames would later dub her "Little Boogaloo." As a performer, she wanders through fields of jazz, blues, rock and soul, sometimes as a cool delta breeze and other times like a Tornado Alley twister. Brent's music is infectious and in terms of authenticity, nearly flawless.

Listen and buy the music of Eden Brent from AMAZON or iTunes

sarah mac in the alternate rootSarah Mac – Sarah Mac’s music is a combination of blues, jazz, and acoustic rock that has been classified as both Americana and Alternative. Sarah, and her backup, the Sarah Mac Band, describe the sound as ‘jazzy, bluesy, rock with a healthy dose of soul’. Sarah’s voice has a nice low end to it. Just when you think she has hit the bottom, she goes a little deeper. Sarah Mac Band’s most recent album release is Static & Signals.

Listen and buy the music of Sarah Mac  from AMAZON or iTunes

erin harpe in the alternate rootErin Harpe - Erin Harpe has been hailed as “an authentic blues chanteuse”, earning a reputation for her raw style and her abandonment to the song. Erin grew up around the Washington, D.C. area . She began playing the guitar in her teens, taught by her father, bluesman Neil Harpe. She began performing at folk festivals, coffee houses, bars, and parties where she developed her own style. Relocating to Boston to develop her music career, she met local blues talents such as Paul Rishell and Susan Tedeschi.  She was the 2013 winner of the Boston Music Award for Best Blues band with her mates The Delta Swingers. Erin has released two acoustic blues albums, her debut Blues Roots (2002) and 2008's Delta Blues Duets.

Listen and buy the music of Erin Harpe from AMAZON or iTunes

ruthie foster in the alternate rootRuthie Foster – Ruthie Foster came from humble church choir beginnings in rural Texas, followed by a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy Band, and ended up in New York City with a major-label development deal that soon went sour. She moved back to Texas and resumed her music career in Austin, winning Best Folk Artist in 2004-05 and Best Female Vocalist in 2007-08. She broadened her sound by blending blues and soul aspects into her folk roots. Her most recent release, Let It Burn, features The Funky Meters rhythm section, Ike Stubblefield, William Bell and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Listen and buy the music of Ruthie Foster from AMAZON or iTunes

beth hart in the alternate rootBeth Hart – Beth Hart has been recording since her 1996 Atlantic/Lava Records debut, Immortal. Over the past few years, her career has been in a state of change. A chance meeting with blues great Joe Bonamassa led to an introduction to producer Kevin Shirley.  He would later come on board to produce Beth’s recent release, Bang, Bang Boom, Boom. Beth was recently asked by Jeff Beck to sing at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors as a tribute to bluesman Buddy Guy.  Hart admits she might actually be happy. “Often on old records, I wrote about pain and fear. I didn’t write so much about love. I always felt like I didn’t understand it or wasn’t worthy. This is the first album where I have, and it’s such a beautiful feeling. I feel like I’ve gotten to fit into a new pair of shoes, y’know, and I can walk a different walk. Every album is special to me. But with this one, there’s a real specialness about it, because I’m at a different age and in a new head-space.”

Listen and buy the music of Beth Hart  from AMAZON or iTunes

joanne shaw taylor in the alternate rootJoanne Shaw Taylor – Joanne Shaw Taylor grew up in England, a country schoolgirl, bored with the music she heard on late-’90s pop radio. Going through her Dad’s record collection, she developed musical crushes listening to albums by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins and Jimi Hendrix. She took advantage of the acoustic guitars that were just lying around the family house, and by age 13, she was playing electric guitars. Just one year later, she would defy her teachers by playing London venues like The Marquee and Ronnie Scott’s. Recorded in Austin, her third album, Almost Always Never, raises a personal Blues bar for Joanne, who is still in her twenties.

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christine santelli in the alternate rootChristine Santelli – The New York City music scene and Christine Santelli have been together for more than two decades. Her most recent release, Dragonfly, came as a result of a personal challenge Christine set out to fulfill. Christine wrote and video taped 100 original songs in 100 consecutive days and shared them on Facebook and You Tube. She chose fifteen of these originals and recorded them for this first solo acoustic album.

Listen and buy the music of Christine Santelli from AMAZON or iTunes

bex marshall in the alternate rootBex Marshall - Bex Marshall is the proud owner of one great big voice. Bex hosted many late night jams in her North London home that would come to be the track listing for The House of Mercy, her most recent release. Bex Marshall was eleven years old when she received a 1963 Gibson Hummingbird. She tried on classical, then a little flamenco before the blues came to town and won her heart. Fodder for her tales came from time she spent at 18, traveling the world, dealing illegal poker games in Amsterdam, hitchhiking through Europe and finding a spare corner to busk for her supper.

Listen and buy the music of Bex Marshall from AMAZON or iTunes

natalia zuckerman in the alternaterootNatalia Zukerman - Natalia Zukerman grew up in New York City, studied art at Oberlin, worked in mural arts in San Francisco, began her songwriting career in Boston, and now resides, writes, plays and paints in Brooklyn, NY. She is the daughter of Classical musicians Eugenia and Pinchas Zukerman, but it was not her mama’s strings that Natalia wanted to get her hands on. Natalia found her muse was leading her in the direction of slide guitar, lap steel, and dobro. The earthiness and honesty of Folk, Bluegrass, Jazz and Blues music was the well from which she drew inspiration, adding in the natural seductiveness of her voice. Gas Station Roses is her most recent release.

Listen and buy the music of Natalia Zukerman from AMAZON or iTunes

samantha fish in the alternate rootSamantha Fish – Twenty-two year old Samantha Fish got hooked by the blues and immediately started paying her dues in the local Kansas City, Mo. music scene. Her debut album, Runaway, showcases her playing, in her words, “all the sounds I grew up with, with my own spin”. On Runaway, Samantha Fish moves her guitar seamlessly through sharp-edged, riff-driven blues, breakneck boogies,  smokey, late-night jazz and 70’s arena Rock/Blues.

Listen and buy the music of Samantha Fish from AMAZON or iTunes

patty reese in the alternate rootPatty Reese – Patty Reese is a consistent WAMMIE winner in the Washington, D.C. yearly award show. Patty has a voice that reaches up to the rafters and digs deep into your heart simultaneously. Her most recent release, Strong Medicine, lets her roots take hold in Blue and Roots flavored music. Her powerhouse sound gets tagged with Blues/Rock due to the force of her delivery, but the more applicable term would be Blues that Rocks. Patty Reese is currently in the studio recording a follow-up to Strong Medicine.

Listen and buy the music of Patty Reese from AMAZON or iTunes

gina sicilia in the alternate rootGina Sicilia – Philadelphia native, 25-year-old Gina Sicilia, was an out of the box hit with her 2007 debut album, Allow Me to Confess. The songs on her albums that do not have the GS writing credit, manage to fit in seamlessly as Gina gives new life to neglected tunes.  On her most recent release, Can't Control Myself, Gina broadens and stretches her styles, adding Soul and Americana to her keeper influences of Blues and R&B. This album features seven Gina Sicilia compositions, as well as three covers borrowed from Bobby Bland, Stevie Wonder, and Ike & Tina Turner.

Listen and buy the music of Gina Sicilia from AMAZON or iTunes

sunday wilde in the alternate rootSunday Wilde - Sunday Wilde is a blues woman. Her latest album, He Gave Me a Blue Nightgown, has the sound of an album similar to 1920’s/30’s Blues women such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. Sunday Wilde made a decision to stay on home turf for the recording process, away from the sterile safety of previous times recording in Toronto studios. He Gave Me a Blue Nightgown was recorded in hunting lodge cabins near her Northern Ontario home-- the results again, harkening back to the scratchy quality that we hear today from the blues greats of the 20’s and 30’s.

Listen and buy the music of Sunday Wilde from AMAZON or iTunes

lydia warren in the alternate rootLydia Warren – NBC’s Today Show claimed that Lydia Warren is “changing the face of the blues”. Her music takes her around the world performing, and she receives a lot of home town love with Boston Music Award nominations. The Lydia Warren Band places the raw emotion of blues in a modern context, creating a new sound dubbed “alt- blues.” Lydia draws on her influences of West Side Chicago blues and classic rock to create songs and learns by watching as she opens for Blues artists such as B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Ruthie Foster, Ronnie Earl, Shemekia Copeland, Keb Mo and John Németh. Lydia Warren's most recent release was the E.P., Turn It Up.

Listen and buy the music of Lydia Warren from AMAZON or iTunes

cassie taylor in the alternate rootCassie Taylor - Cassie Taylor comes from Boulder Colorado. Her personality combines a compelling mix of music, theater, fashion and modeling into her repertoire, making her a great candidate as an ambassador of blending the arts. Cassie is the daughter of renowned bluesman Otis Taylor and toured in his band for seven years as bassist and backup vocalist. Cassie serves on the board of directors of The Blues Foundation. Her songwriting is the kind of blues which explores the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something woman. Cassie uses pop vocals and deeply-rooted blues bass lines to deliver her music to the world. Cassie Taylor's most recent release is Out of My Mind..

Listen and buy the music of Cassie Taylor from AMAZON or iTunes

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD A SELECTION OF SONGS FROM TOP BLUES WOMEN LIST

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2013 was a great year for American Roots music and putting together a list of the Top 100 was a long and arduous task. We went around and around about who should be on it and then around again when putting them in the order you see them now. The Top 10, truthfully, could go any way you want it but we had to pick an order...and a number one and we couldn't get past that incredible Band of Heathens record. Then there was the Wood Brothers. Equally incredible. And Over The Rhine and well so on and so forth. When you finish one of these  lists and you think you're done...the ones you forgot start popping up. "Holy shit, we forgot Barrence Whitfield!" So it starts again. Where to put the one's we forgot and who gets bumped. We've undoubtedly missed some that you think should be here and you're probably right, but this isn't science it's only our list of the Top 100 Albums of 2013 and here it is.
band of heathens1. The Band of Heathens - Sunday Morning Record -  The Band of Heathens head back to a time when the depth of a Sunday morning was taken apart your favorite song. Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist were keeping a path forward amid personal and career hurdles. They found that space in their songwriting. The tracks are more personal; though quieter, there is sharp clarity to the album. There is no doubt, that this is music from The Band of Heathens brand. Heart and mind are both represented and appealed to in their songs, and Sunday Morning Record continues to deliver smart stories of real lives, with all the bumps, bruises, and smiles left in.

Listen and buy the music of The Band of Heathens from AMAZON or iTunes

the wood brothers2. The Wood Brothers - The Muse - Wood Brother Oliver has name recognition on a number of non-in-house albums, helming the production of projects such as Shemekia Copeland and co-writing the recent Tedeschi-Trucks Band album title track. For their recent release, The Muse, The Wood Brothers went outside of blood relations and chose a producer that uses all of his senses to capture the intricate diversity of the band. Buddy Miller turned the knobs behind the board for The Muse, and added baritone guitar work to the production. Buddy does a fine job in transferring the music to song in a way that nods to influence without needing to stamp the tracks with a particular sound style.

Listen and buy the music of The Wood Brothers from AMAZON or iTunes

 

over the rhine3. Over the Rhine - Meet Me At The Edge of the World - Meet Me at the Edge of the World uses the rural Ohio farmhouse of the husband and wife team of Over The Rhine, dubbed Nowhere Farm, as a backdrop for the stories and the music. The band’s previous works have showcased their art, and their ability to craft music that is full and vibrant. Over The Rhine, with producer Joe Henry,  dedicate themselves to making sure that every note and nuance surfaces in the songs for Meet Me at the Edge of the World. The album is the most song friendly effort from Over the Rhine and, luckily, it is a double disc.

Listen and buy the music of Over the Rhine from AMAZON or iTunes

jason isbell4. Jason Isbell – Southeastern - The songs of Jason Isbell on Southeastern are handled with care, and the album announces Jason’s move to top tier songwriter and performer. His heart still beats Roots; he is after all, a son of Muscle Shoals. Jason Isbell comfortably wears the skin of an American songwriting force with Southeastern. He has equal command of his words and the ability to deliver them with all of their emotion intact. He turns heartbreak into the saving face of salvation in the story line of “Traveling Alone” and steers through a decade of memory glimpsed through the light of “Different Days”.

Listen and buy the music of Jason Isbell from AMAZON or iTunes

5. Patty Griffin - American Kid – Patty Griffin has stated that much of her new release, American Kid, was written to honor her father. Musically. Patty uses her past recorded output as influence in creating something familiar emotionally that dwells in a musical future sound. “That Kind of Lonely” lanquishes in a lush sound collage that gathers strings and hard edge acoustic chords, using Patty’s voice as a beacon to lead the song across stark soundscapes. Patty Griffin has a voice that can whisper or soar with an equal presence. There is a subtle power in each note, a secret knowledge in every vocal tease.

Listen and buy the music of Patty Griffin from AMAZON or iTunes

6. The Greencards - Sweetheart of the Sun - The Greencards have broken musical ground and established themselves as major players in the world of Roots music since they came into being in 2003 and on Sweetheart of the Sun, their musicality spreads out over the water-themed release. Their collective talents are not hidden nor kept to the background and kudos go to The Greencards for making Sweetheart of the Sun feel like one thought rather than individual tracks.

Listen and buy the music of The Greencards from AMAZON or iTunes

7. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell - Old Yellow Moon – Harmony between old friends is what drives Old Yellow Moon. Emmylou Harris had Rodney Crowell at her side for her own early solo work on seminal album such as Luxury Liner and Elite Hotel. The pair join their voices again with Old Yellow Moon.

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8. Trampled Under Foot – Badlands - Trampled Under Foot boast not one but two Soul force singers with sister/brother Danielle (bass) and Nick (guitar) Schnebelen. Their parents, Bob and Lisa, were fixtures on the Kansas City Blues scene. Nick describes what the father gave his children, “Our dad was in bar bands but he was also recognized as a great blues guitar player. He’d take us to blues jams where we’d meet some real old school artists and hear a cross section of roots music.” Early training shows through on Badlands. Danielle’s siren voice is a beacon light and a lamp in the window. Danielle fully inhabits her cover of James Brown’s “It's a Man's Man's Man's World” with a testifying claim on the crown that will make anyone within ear range a true believer. Badlands is smoldering Soul and Blues.

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9. Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark – Blind, Crippled and Crazy - Delbert McClinton and longtime friend Glen Clark made their last album together in 1973. Forty years on, and the guys decided it was enough fun to do it all over again. The time that has passed has not dulled their roots, and it has given them plenty of fodder for stories, though most of the tales are aimed right back at the two guys behind the microphones. Glen Clark says of the project that they are “a couple of guys who started playing together in ragtag bands around Fort Worth in the '60s,  so we like to poke some fun at ourselves for being older now."

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10. Steve Earle & The Dukes (and Duchesses) - The Low Highway - The Low Highway is the fifteenth Steve Earle studio album. The album style samples from a wide sound backing courtesy of The Dukes and Duchesses. The album showcases the songwriting abilities of Mr. Earle in a manner that cannot be heard in his more genre-specific albums. There is breathing room on The Low Highway, and Steve takes full advantage to stretch. “Pocket Full of Rain” dips its sound into Indie Rock; “21st Century Blues” wonders where all the promises went over a full forward rock rhythm; “Love’s Gonna Blow My Way” catches a Cajun fiddle wind that rides into “After Mardi Gras”, where it dips into a more swamp edge. “Calico County” cuts a path with guitars that leave marks like a chem trail across the album and “That All You Got” marries Blues riffs with Zydeco rhythms.

Listen and buy the music of Steve Earle and The Dukes (and Duchesses)  from AMAZON or iTunes

11. Edie Brickell and Steve Martin - Love Has Come for You – The Steve and Edie (for our times) have created beautiful moments of song on Love Has Come for You. Given history and talents, the album’s quality is not a shock. What is surprising is how well the pair get the banjo and voice to interact. The title track mixes banjos notes and chords to give fullness as Edie spins a mountain tale that builds up instrumentally to bloom like spring flowers within the song. The story follows love through a life showing the strength of the emotion and finding joy even when it reaches the end of its time on earth.

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12. Valerie June - Pushin' Against a Stone – Valerie June refers to her music as Organic Moonshine. She is a major star across that big piece of water east of the US coast; her UK ‘overnight success’ arriving right around the same time as her album debut, Pushin’ Against  A Stone. Vocally, Valerie June can simultaneously give impressions of hurt while assuring that you can climb over anything in your path. Pushin’ Against A Stone crosses sonic borders and comfortably wears folk blues, jazz, rock and soul in its songs without ever having to swear fidelity to any one sound style.

Listen and buy the music of Valerie June from AMAZON or iTunes

13. North Mississippi All-Stars - World Boogie is Coming - Pedigree opened doors but once inside, North Mississippi All Stars needed to rely solely on their music. Luther and Cody Dickinson grew up in North Mississippi alongside bluesmen like R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and the ghost of Mississippi Fred McDowell. The Dickinson Brothers got some advice from their buddy Seasick Steve, who told them they were the link to North Mississippi Blues for the next generation. Steve’s advice was to keep it primitive. The North Mississippi All Stars wanted to make a cultural statement, and to honor Seasick Steve’s request, and that is exactly what they have down with World Boogie Is Coming. Doing the right thing and giving it a beat.

Listen and buy the music of North Mississippi All Stars from AMAZON or iTunes

14. Guy Clark - My Favorite Picture of You - Guy Clark holds a photo up to the camera on the cover of My Favorite Picture of You. The image is Susanna Clark, who passed away in June 2012. Guy vivdly remembers the moment, "Me and Townes are in that house, just drunk on our asses, jerks. And she'd had enough, she walked out that front door. I think it was John Lomax who snapped that picture. I had it pinned on my wall, and Gordon [Sampson] came over. We were writing and he had a list of lines and titles and all that shit that most people carry around. I was going through it and I hit on this line that said, 'My favorite picture of you.' I turned in my chair and it was right there in front of me. The lyrics just poured out because all it boiled down to was describing the picture. We might written it in one day."

Listen and buy the music of Guy Clark from AMAZON or iTunes

15. Slaid Cleaves - Still Fighting The War - Slaid Cleaves is our inner voice and the guide that points us towards the light. His stories use the lives of others to help us make the way over the hurdles in day-to-day existence, and support decisions with the lives of those around us. Slaid starts off Still Fighting the War with its title track. The song follows memories back to Fallujah and addresses the central character in the tale with the observation that “you been home for a couple of years now, buddy, but you’re still fighting the war”.  The song zeroes in on the obvious and makes sure that the truth is present as it sings….”men go off to war for a hundred reasons but they all come home with the same demons”.

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16. Anders Osborne – Peace - Anders Osborne is on a Peace mission. Given the subject matter, it might seem that the title is what the man is championing….that is not the case. Anders relates the various stages, transitions, awakenings and pitfalls he has experienced in achieving his own personal Peace. Anders Osborne’s observations are street smart and do not pull punches. To support the realness of his words, Anders fills songs with determined rhythms marinated in the musical stew pot of his New Orleans home.

Listen and buy the music of Anders Osborne from AMAZON or iTunes

17. Mavis Staples - One True Vine - Mavis Staples, and producer Jeff Tweedy, have created the gospel according to Americana with One True Vine. The pair received a Grammy nod and win with their first collaboration, and Ms. Staples wanted to create One True Vine in the same joyous spirit though with an evolution in the music.  The album completely embodies dark and light, both in words and music.

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18. The Milk Carton Kids – The Ash and The Clay - The Ash and Clay lets the guitars have their say, with tones that complement the purity of The Milk Carton Kids vocals. Kenneth Passengale plays a 1954 Martin and Joey Ryan uses a 1951 Gibson, making the guitar sounds sparkle with age in the echo of a thousand notes. The Milk Carton Kids tend to deliver their songs with a quiet power. There is softness to the tunes gathered but they have a bite that safely keeps them out of reach from an easy listening status.

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19. Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line – Carnival - The stories on Carnival have their backdrop go from antebellum south to an old man walking a mountain trail in the present day. Nora Jane Struthers is comfortable in the literary side of her tales. Prior to undertaking a full time career in music, she was an English teacher. Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line take you on a ride in Carnival that captures a lot in the space of fourteen songs and creating an album that will take them from the sideshow to the big tent.

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20. James Hunter Six – Minute By Minute - The James Hunter Six play hard though the rhythms of the band do not pound as much as penetrate. Double duty is a default for James Hunter in his songs. His voice guides and keeps the music on track with the happiness the narrator finds in getting it right shining through James’ vocals. James Hunter follows the path of great Soul singers like Al Green, Solomon Burke, and Otis Redding by selling the songs with an honest emotion that allows his vocal chameleon to inhabit his characters.

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21. Yarn – Shine It On – Contrary to Yarn yarns, the stories on Shine the Light On see the band traveling towards the warm glow found in the promise of the album title as they voice humble request in an attempt to strive for, and appreciate, a better life. The words of Blake Christiana and the emotional telling of his vocal delivery have found themselves a good home in the music making of Yarn.

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22. The Defibulators – Debt’ll Get ‘Em - Debt’ll Get ‘Em hits the ground over the speed limit with album opener “Holy Roller”, a tongue-in-cheek gut-kick to organized religion. The Defibulators raise a toast to blue-collar brothers and sisters with “Working Class” a soon-to-be jukebox favorite from the coal mines to the farm fields, stopping at every watering hole from the east to west with truck parking.

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23. Steep Canyon Rangers – Tell the Ones I Love - The Rangers never toss a riff over for someone to catch; each note volley included in their songs are hand carried from one member to another on Tell the Ones I Love. The mandolin, fiddle, guitar and banjo leads move between instruments with no bumps though there are some serious jumps in the way the band delivers, and we can hear, bluegrass. Steep Canyon Rangers honor traditions but do not view the sounds that have come before as a sentence but musical arrows that point towards a sonic changes for string bands.

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24. Jonny Fritz - Dad Country – Jonny Fritz went back to his origins, dropping Jonny Corndawg and reclaiming his real name for his ATO Records debut, Dad Country. Jonny paints himself as the outsider in his songs and backs the Southern literary story lines with classic country playing. He understands that his problems lie with the company he keeps (“Wrong Crowd”, “Social Climbers”), last night’s party (“Goodbye Summer”) and the welcome he gets after driving all night to help blow out the candles (“Ain’t It Your Birthday”).

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25. I See Hawks in L.A. – Mystery Drug – The gentlemen curators of California Country, I See Hawks in L.A. once again confine literary prose into the borders of a three minute song with Mystery Drug.  They are a giving group and help the songs stick with remember-me hooks in the chorus to take home with you. The Hawks turn the pages of real life in the tales and stitch the songs with Paul Laques psychedelic roots riffs.

Listen and buy the music of I See Hawks in L.A. from AMAZON or iTunes

MUSIC FROM ALBUM 1 THROUGH 25

 

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26. Willie Nile - American Ride - The title track for American Ride, co-written with The Alarm’s Mike Peters, finds the song in a New York City morning but this day holds an adventure. As the cities of America fly by across the easy rhythm of Willie’s guitar, his voice is a conductor calling out points of interest across the United States. “American Ride” stretches like the country it sings about; you can hear the slap of motorcycle tires and see the shadow of Willie Nile and his guitar moving across the prairies, crossing the mountains and deserts and hitting the shores of the coasts. Willie Nile presents a travelogue, and an album, penned with pride.

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27. Tim Easton - Not Cool – Tim Easton left the high desert near Joshua Tree to set up camp on the Cumberland River. After leaving a Ryman show in Nashville, Tim wandered into Robert’s Western World on Lower Broadway and left with a direction for his Not Cool album and the backing players for the vintage roots rockabilly temperament of the songs, all recorded in five days.

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28. Robert Randolph and the Family Band – Lickety Split – Robert Randolph took a break from a grueling 280-date-a-year touring with the Family Band to record and release Lickety Split, his first studio recording in three years. Playing every night diffused the group’s spontaneity and the rule for the new album was no rules. Robert Randolph fires notes from his sacred steel guitar that will leave skid marks on sound waves.

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29. Barrence Whitfield and the Savages – Dig Thy Savage Soul - The Savages do not back Barrence Whitfield as much as surround the man with a chaotic maelstrom of sound, true surround sound. Mr. Whitfield’s stands his ground with class and sass against the sonic force of The Savages. Barrence not only keeps his spot but he also owns the spotlight when he leads the band. Ferocious rock’n’roll and street tough R&B are the default sounds for Dig Thy Savage Soul.

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30. Carrie Rodriguez – Give Me All You’ve Got – On Give Me All You Got, Carrie Rodriguez wears the skin of an artist who is stretching beyond what is expected of her without completely shedding the sound that brought her to the party. The grace and poise that freely roam throughout Give Me All You Got grant the album a sonic texture that comfortably fits it into the roots world with subtly obvious influences of country, rock, soul and folk. The songs form a soundtrack for Carrie’s Texas years and the ten years she has spent in Brooklyn. The emotions in Give Me All You Got are as equally separate as her states of residence. Carrie describes the songs, “These new original tune run the gamut of intense emotions, from heartache to budding new love, from betrayal to resigned acceptance, and finally to the sheer joy of being alive.”

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31. Nikki Hill - Here's Nikki Hill – A few years ago Nikki Hill made a decision to add her voice to husband Matt’s guitar work and take to the stage with the force of Roots Rock’n’Soul raging from the amplifiers. Here’s Nikki Hill stamps North Carolina as the spot where raw, visceral roots soul has taken to ground. Nikki Hill holds the stage with a voice channeled from Little Richard and a poise that Mr. Penniman will envy.

Listen and buy the music of Nikki Hill from Nikki Hill

32. Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors - Good Light – Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors make Roots Pop that is lyrically sophisticated, contemporary and powerful. Musically, Drew’s wife and songwriting partner Ellie holds the harmonies as The Neighbors glide over a sonic landscape of Hammond organ, pedal steel, mandolin and guitars.

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33. The Blind Boys of Alabama – I’ll Find A Way – Gospel and Indie Rock set up camp for the recording of I’ll Find a Way with The Blind Boys of Alabama going with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) to produce the release. Devotional music with an edge set on eleven for the sonic level and the messages.

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34. Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition – White Buffalo – Former Squirrel Nut Zippers frontman Jimbo Mathus left North Carolina returning to his home state of Mississippi.  Jimbo, the Tri-State Coalition and producer Eric ‘Roscoe’ Ambel recorded White Buffalo in the studio that Mathus had set up using antique ribbon microphones and tube pre-amps. White Buffalo marries folk wisdom, southern roots rock and smart stories.

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35. Tim O’Brien & Darrell Scott – Memories & Moments – What began as two friends/players getting together on their debut album has moved into a full-on project for Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott with Memories & Moments. It is a testament to the men behind the strings that sparks from the strings fly from the speakers still warm. The pair move into comfort zone the project that weaves their talent together in sonic quilt.

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36. Otis Taylor - My World is Gone – The man responsible for trance blues crafts an album that uses the American Indian experience as a back drop theme. With the use of repetitive words and guitar patterns Otis Taylor creates a meditative state that allows the stories of the past to come through as an echo. The blues weaves along a path constructed of winding grooves as Otis Taylor takes on the role of Soul Shaman.

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37. Noam Pikelny – Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe – Noam Pikelny presents the first complete banjo adaptation of Kenny Baker’s 1976 seminal recording of Bill Monroe’s instrumentals. As with all Noam Pikelny album offerings, and with his work as a Punch Brother, his banjo playing combines bluegrass with elements of rock, jazz and classical music, expanding a genre that cut its teeth on Mr. Monroe’s paring of blues and hillbilly music.

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38. The Del-Lords - Elvis Club – In the late 80’s, NYC rock veterans Scott Kempner (The Dictators) and Eric ‘Roscoe’ Ambel (Joan Jett & The Blackhearts) formed The Del-Lords on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A couple decades worth of calendar pages gathered on the recording studio floor for us but The Del-Lords have not missed a foot stomp in the 23 years since their last recordings. The boys do not make Elvis Club a comeback but a reminder of the glory found in Roots Rock’n’Roll.

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39. Jacob Jones – Good Timin’ in Waynetown – Jacob Jones knows how to construct, record and deliver Soul music. Add in bottles of wine, margaritas on the porch, greens cooking on the stove and chicken fried on the counter and you can see that the man also knows how to throw down. Good Timin’ in Waynestown is a party album, a reminder of how good it feels to have fun with music.

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40. Patty Larkin – Still Green – Still Green chronicles a personal journey in the life of Patty Larkin, a time of hurdles raised by the death of loved ones. For solace, Patty carved out a small spot of sand on the Outer Banks of the Cape Cod National Seashore, writing many of the songs in a primitive beach shack. Patty described her creative process as “from darkness to light, from a frozen winter where ice hampered every step, where halls were shadowed in sadness, to the sandscape of the seashore of Cape Cod.”

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41. Beth Hart - Big Bang Boom Boom - Beth Hart does not sing as much as she circles a song. Her voice is a force that warns her characters of dangerous passion plays or pulls them under to drown in their own tears.  Big Bang Boom Boom is a fire breather, with a wall of playing and production that are big but Beth Hart slaps the table to make sure that you know that her voice is bigger.

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42. Amanda Shires - Down Fell the Doves – Down Fell the Doves opens its jewel box of song casting gems that sparkle over sweeping beats and rumbly wobbles, rising up on assured power chords and hair-raising fiddle rolls. Amanda Shires is a presence the combines the magic of grabbing the right fiddle notes from the air and the story songs to give them a place to live and thrive.

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43. The Black Lillies - Runaway Freeway Blues - The Black Lillies can be softly seductive, hook you with a beat and spin tales scripted from family history. Runaway Freeway Blues takes a big step forward for The Black Lillies and further brings Roots music into its own spot in the world of Indie and Alternative sounds.

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44. Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck – Eden – Eden was written almost entirely on Bow Thayer’s electric banjo. Perfect Trainwreck is an accomplished group of musicians and their talent made the transition from guitar to electric banjo for Bow choice of instruments a smooth one. The isolation of his Vermont home-base makes Bow feel like an outsider and that helped back story the songs on Eden. Bow cited the rural environment as “a part of my perspective on this record. It also feels like we are in a bubble trapped in time in many ways. It’s beautiful and weird.”

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45. Willie Sugarcapps - Willie Sugarcapps – Willie Sugarcapps combine seasoned musicians with sweet chops that blending with one another like honey in a potent cup of tea on their self-titled debut. Anthony Crawford and Savanna Lee of Sugarcane Jane, Will Kimbrough, Grayson Capps and Corky Hughes make up the group and the sound is just as good as seeing those names all together on the credits. There is an easy flow to Willie Sugarcapps with acoustic rhythms moving through each track with a fluid motion.

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46. Houndmouth - From the Hills Below the City - Houndmouth take the male/female duo sound that is filling the air and back it with the meaty rhythm section that adds bulk to the co-vocals. The band got attention with their self-titled E.P. release that featured calling card tunes such as “Penitentiary” and the heroin nod ride of “Houston Train”. Both tracks are included on their debut, From the Hills Below the City. The promise Houndmouth made with the four song tease from the E.P. is realized on the full length.

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47. The Steel Wheels – No More Rain  - The Steel Wheels formed around four friends in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and their music is rock solid soul for the masses. The Steel Wheels stitch good feelings and the truth of their delivery into the songs on No More Rain. The Steel Wheels are a touring machine and the songs come to you fully road tested from years of use.

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48. Shannon McNally - Small Town Talk – Small Town Talkis a tribute that Shannon McNally gives to New Orleans songwriter Bobby Charles. His music had a place at the birth of rock’n’roll, and though Bobby Charles had hits songs through the 50’s/60’s, his musical career extended beyond two decades. Shannon McNally, assisted by producer Dr. John, extends their shelf life.

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49. Mark Robinson – Have Axe Will Groove – OKay, so the release date was December 2012 but we didn't get the official release date until January so that explains it! Mark Robinson has long life line as a roots guitarist and blues artists, rounding out his resume with his well-deserved gig as educator for the past thirty years. He currently teaches classes in audio production, music theory and World Music at the Art Institute of Tennessee. Mark’s debut was autobiographical, Have Axe Will Groove is personal and the Nashville bluesman lays out the tales over some seriously dirty, funky, gritty grooves.

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50. Marshall Chapman – Blaze of Glory – Life lessons via personal experiences are parceled out in Blaze of Glory. The album takes a stand for the legion of Marshall’s forty-, fifty- and older year-olds that Marshall tags in her stories.  Sure, sixty is the new forty, but sixty still feels like sixty (and looks) when you are brushing your teeth and at least halfway through your first coffee. Marshall Chapman faces maturity with the heat of her barely-concealed inner rock’n’roll firebrand.

Listen and buy the music of Marshall Chapman from AMAZON or iTunes

 

MUSIC FROM ALBUM 26 THROUGH 50

 

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51. Sara Petite –Circus Comes to Town – Sara Petite constructed the songs for Circus Comes to Town in the high desert near Joshua Tree, California, using the songs, and her recording, as a way to not get stuck in the moment. The sudden death of her best friend and partner hit Sara hard. The songs on Circus Comes to Town reflect her sorrows, her memories and her desire to incorporate tragedy into her life and not hide it away or ignore its existence. Circus Comes to Town never gets bogged down in the drama and its stories have pain and pleasure, bumps and bounces, moments when you need to be still and times when you race for the finish line.

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52. Hymn for Her – Present Lucy and Wayne’s Smokin’ Flames - For their new album Hymn For Her, Hymn For Her Present Lucy & Wayne’s Smokin’ Flames, Lucy Tight and Wayne Waxing wanted to take it up a notch. Hymn For Her have been touring highways, backroads and barely roads for the past few years injecting juiced-up backwoods country blues with a full dose of desert-rock psychedelia. The pair have been described as Hell’s Angels Meet the Amish.

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53. Rosie Flores – Working Girls Guitar – The album title perfectly sums up its star. Rosie Flores has stood behind her guitar, using it to cut a swath through a rockabilly landscape heavy on the testosterone. Beginning with LA cow punk and The Screamin’ Sirens, Rosie Flores signed a solo deal for a 1987 major label release, becoming the first Latina to enter the Billboard Country charts. Working Girls Guitar has an autobiographical lean with the title track, “I’m Little But I’m Loud” and “Love Has Passed Me By” as Rosie softens the blows of life by turning up the volume.

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54. Patrick Sweany – Close to the Floor - Patrick Sweany opens his mouth and soul just pours out. His voice has the fever, notes falling like drops of sweat. Patrick maintains a leadership in his delivery that gives an importance to every note, sung or played. It is the fire of a true believer. Though Soul is obvious in his singing, his songs do not always follow the path traveled by his voice. Patrick Sweany gathers a diversity of styles and sounds together on Close to the Floor

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55. Mandolin Orange - This Side of Jordan –  Mandolin Orange lead with passionate beliefs and are not afraid to frame tales about uncomfortable topics or to protest through the quiet revolution of their songs. The songs on This Side of Jordan lay themselves out over arrangements that are calming and supportive. Mandolin Orange put into play the adage that you get more bees with honey than vinegar and they liberally dip their songs into the sweet nectar.

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56. Cassie Taylor - Out of My Mind – Cassie Taylor has a past resume that lists bass playing for dad Otis Taylor as a teenager. Cassie wrote, arranged, produced, and performed on the songs for Out of My Mind. She moves the blues dial ahead on the album, but she really gives the needle for Roots music a shove with songs that hint at influence as they stake out new territories for a true blend of American Roots sounds.

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57. Moreland and Arbuckle - 7 Cities - 7 Cities has as its theme the world of Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. The songs revolve around the search for the fabled seven cities of gold, a journey that ended on the Kansas prairie, the area native to the band. Moreland and Arbuckle have given the world a history lesson with 7 Cities, and fortified their look at the past with modern day trumpets by way of guitars to triumph the hidden treasures.

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58. Tommy Malone - Natural Born Days - The former front man and co-founder of the legendary New Orleans roots band The Subdudes ended a twelve year hiatus and released Natural Born Days. Tommy taps his trademark blue-eyed-soul vocals that are on full frontal display with this collection of carefully crafted, introspective and soul searching songs with topics touch on mortality, faith, love, loss and his beloved New Orleans.

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59. Eric Brace and Peter Cooper - The Comeback Album – Eric Brace and Peter Cooper add sly wit and carefully crafted asides to their tunes, giving the impressions that the songs are conversations with a beat, a sway and a toe tap. The tracks presenting themselves as The Comeback Album will have universal appeal, though the tales give a voice to men of an age where you are neither young nor old. They are not the voice of a generation, but Eric Brace and Peter Cooper do speak loudly for the ways of the men.

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60. Todd Thibaud – Waterfall - Todd Thibaud vocals have a good rock hold in the songs as the music moves over roots, folk, blues, soul, country and rock. There is a dedication to the songwriting that Todd adheres to with Waterfall. The art of the song is given free rein, and the tracks shed any style skin. The songs on Waterfall flow without coming to shore on any one particular category, much like the writers that Todd uses for inspiration-- Neil Finn, Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash and John Hiatt.

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61. Chip Taylor - Block Out the Sirens of This Lonely World - Chip Taylor is one of a few humans who is his own style. He is the voice and the pen that steers his song paint brush. Chip layers pain, humor, empathy and accusing fingers over his stories. On Block Out the Sirens of This Lonely World, Chip Taylor sculpts dark clouds from his songs; both the ink and weather doling out moodiness to the album, with the shadow of a silver lining peering beneath the story lines. Norway is a back drop for the tales results of the 2011 massacre, and its effect on Chip move through the album. He was in the country at the time and wrote and performed a new song, “This Darkest Day”, at a benefit honoring the victims of the killing.

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62. Mike Zito and The Wheel - Gone to Texas - Gone to Texas has Blues influences throughout its songs and its moods. That does not make it a collection that only lets Blues-based tunes through the door, however. The album offers folk blues, Bourbon Street Blues, breezy slides and slow jam love songs. Mike Zito lets influence guide his songs but does not feel the need to make it obvious. The Blues lives inside the man, it translates into the tunes on Gone to Texas as an ideology rather than a structure.

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63. Amy Speace - How to Sleep in a Stormy Boat - How to Sleep in a Stormy Boat was a risk that fan-based support for album production has helped make less stressful. Amy Speace gives her gratitude by the way she lets her muse drive the album. It is a beautiful rendering and traces a path to Amy’s pre-music life as a stage performer. Her stage directions are lines from William Shakespeare and her story songs act out their lives letting experiences give us a helping hand to suggest directions in our day to day lives.

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64. The White Buffalo – Shadows, Greys & Evil Ways – On Shadows, Greys and Evil Ways, The White Buffalo has an open casting call for characters though the songs still hold a spot for the big man taking center stage in his songs. The use of outside influences rather than personal experiences gives the tracks on the album a more cinematic feel with The White Buffalo clear relating of character study.

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65. Gedeon Luke – Perfection Perfect - At 23 years old, Gedeon Luke writes with a maturity that exceeds his time on earth. Boundless in its energy and message of peace, love and hope, it is music that only an 'old soul' with an un-tempered spirit could create. Like Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, Gedeon Luke breaks strict barriers of classic music to set himself free and takes listeners with him on that freedom ride. You don't need a ticket, just climb on board.

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66. Tedeschi Trucks Band – Made Up Mind - Tedeschi Trucks Band are having a good time on their second studio album, Made Up Mind. They come in with a bounce in their step on the title track, a song was written by Susan Tedeschi and husband Derek Trucks with the help of Wood Brothers sibling, Oliver Wood. Derek felt that the song mirrored the band. The group believes that if you feel something strong enough then go for it and that sentiment is evident Made Up Mind. The album is not another album for Tedeschi and Trucks, it is the next step for a group that is evolving and growing.

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67. Buddy Guy – Rhythm and Blues - Buddy Guy lets the music do his talking and defines distinct tastes on the double-disc set, Rhythm & Blues, offering one side for each style. Buddy Guy collaborates with Aerosmith members Joe Perry, Brad Whitford and Steven Tyler and welcomes first-time studio partners such Gary Clark, Jr and Keith Urban on the album. Rhythm & Blues is the follow-up to Buddy’s 2010 Grammy winning Living Proof, and rides the tails of his 2012 Kennedy Center Honors. 

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68. Devon Allman – Turquoise - Devon Allman taps fellow Royal Southern Brotherhood bandmate, Yonrico Scott (drums and percussion), Samantha Fish (vocals) and Luther Dickinson (guitar) among others for the recording of his solo debut, Turquiose, There is an autobiographical feel to the tunes which Devon sees as representing “the last couple of decades forging my musical path. The last ten years I’ve spent in hotels, airplanes, taxis, truck stops, etc.”  The son of Gregg Allman, Devon Allman now calls St. Louis home.  

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69. The Roys – Gypsy Runaway Train - The Roys have easy vocals that remain calm as they fingers find strings and ride the wake of Gypsy Runaway Train. The album hosts six originals by The Roys and a bunch of bluegrass and country favorites. Elaine Roy has a sit down on her porch as night falls, picking a tune out of some guitar chords and singing a hello to the night time with a piece of “Blue Moon of Kentucky”. It is a beautiful setting and Elaine’s voice matches the peace……for exactly forty seconds. Brother Lee hops in and The Roys kick off a hi-test bluegrass version of “Blue Moon of Kentucky” that would make author Bill Monroe proud.

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70. Rory Block – Avalon - Rory Block retells the songs of Mississippi John Hurt on Avalon, the fourth release in her tribute Mentor Series which honors the great bluesmen at the heart of the genre. Mississippi John Hurt, born John Smith Hurt in either 1892 or 1893, began his recording career on the Okeh Records label in 1928. Rory Block lovingly performs songs from one of the major musical impacts on her career in music and her love of the genre. The songs on Avalon are tracks associated with the Mississippi John Hurt repertoire, and a love letter from a student to her teacher.

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71. Guthrie Kennard - Cross Your Heart  - Guthrie Kennard collaborates with the string soceror Marian Brackney on Cross Your Heart. Marian adds full, assured violin parts and hushed, whispered vocals to Guthrie’s fourth album effort. The album winds across a dozen tracks like bursts of a breeze through an open window. The tunes surround and support feelings as much as offer listening pleasure.

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72. Waiting for Henry - Ghosts and Compromise - The spirits that haunt Waiting for Henry’s Ghosts and Compromise make an early appearance in opening track, “Buy American”.  They rise up and materialize in the music, with faint wisps of Uncle Tupelo in the sound and the Middle American pride of one of Alt Country’s cornerstones. Waiting for Henry do not copy, mimic or outright steal the sound of the men of Uncle Tupelo. They use the stretched out notes from instruments and lyrics that inhabited the Roots forefathers No Depression days, and take steps to move Alt Country forward with songs unique to Waiting For Henry; honoring without feeling the need to re-invent any wheels to plow the genre’s fields.

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73. Luke Winslow-King - The Coming Tide - Luke Winslow-King is a guitarist, singer, composer, and lyricist known for his slide guitar work, and interest in pre-war blues and traditional jazz. Luke’s music focuses on an eclectic mix, taking in delta-folk music, classical composition, ragtime, and rock and roll; juxtaposing original songs with those from a bygone era. His has an original sound that is both rustic and elegant.

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74. Pete Anderson - Birds Over Guitarland - Pete Anderson glides in with a swooping twang of guitar notes on Birds Above Guitarland soaring on the airwaves of jazzy tones and textures. Clean playing and Pete Anderson are inseparable and Birds Above Guitarland continues the match of six strings and ten fingers that began in the Blues bars of Detroit while Pete was still working the blue collar factories of his hometown.

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75. Shannon Whitworth – Bring It  - Shannon Whitworth is an island on High Tide and she surrounds the ebb and flow of her swooning vocals with rhythms that lap gently, as on the title track. Motion is a key ingredient for Shannon Whitworth; there is a fluid curve to her vocal delivery with no sharp edges, notes are rounded and embrace the words carefully. Shannon Whitworth’s voice is an instrument that binds the songs of High Tide together as they drift like mist above sound waves.  

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MUSIC FROM ALBUM 51 THROUGH 75

 

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76. Anna Popovic  - Can You Stand the Heat – To celebrate the release of Can You Stand the Heat, the heir apparent to Bonnie Raitt or Deborah Coleman as the top female blues guitarist/singer combo, Ana Popovic, played the New Orleans Jazz Blues and Jazz Fest. She used the set to introduce her new project, a nine-piece power blues and funk machine under the name Ana Popovic & Mo' Better Love. With AP & Mo' Better Love, Ana fronts a musical collaboration with Tony Coleman (drummer BB King) and John Williams on bass (Al Green). Can You Stand The Heat is Ana's ninth full-length album.

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77. Hot Club of Cowtown – Rendezvous in Rhythm - Hot Club of Cowtown take an album-long look at the Gypsy Jazz and French Swing of 1930’s Paris. Rendezvous in Rhythm was recorded in the hot jazz style of master violinist Stephane Grappelli and guitarist Django Reinhardt. Hot Club of Cowtown are an Austin, TX band and the album was recorded on home turf with production by Lloyd Maines at the Zone Recording Studio in Dripping Springs, Texas. There is a purity in the playing; the notes are crisp, each tone individual. The production work certainly helps separate and then join the instruments, but the secret weapon is the artistry of Hot Club of Cowtown.

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78. Bex Marshall – The House of Mercy - Bex Marshall was eleven years old when she received a 1963 Gibson Hummingbird. She tried on classical, then a little flamenco before the blues came to town and won her heart. She traveled the world dealing illegal poker games in Amsterdam, hitchhiking through Europe and finding a spare corner to busk for her supper. The House of Mercy showcases the big voice that the lady with the guitar wields. Bex Marshall’s voice demands attention, but don’t let the singing take away from her playing. Notes fly throughout The House of Mercy like sparks going from tree to tree fueling flames.

Listen and buy the music of Bex Marshall from AMAZON or iTunes

79. The SteelDrivers – Hammer Down - If bluegrass was a BBQ buffet, then The SteelDrivers would be ribs with plenty of meat on the bone. On Hammer Down, The SteelDrivers show their musical muscle, grounding the bluegrass-based structure of their songs with a powerful bottom. The sound production lets the inherent darkness of The SteelDrivers words trigger an edge of tension throughout Hammer Down. At their heart, The SteelDrivers are a string band though their music offers a lot more than simply followers of bluegrass traditions. Soul and Country show more than just influence on the album, the band morphing and accessing varied forms of music and channeling it into a sound all their own.

Listen and buy the music of The SteelDrivers from AMAZON or iTunes

80. JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound – Howl - JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound combine JC Brooks’ starkly personal lyrics with the band’s ability to not second guess their role in the Soul sound evolution. The grooves fall onto the album from the willingness of The Uptown Sound to bare all their influences. Howl is the sound of Rock ‘n’ Soul expanding.

Listen and buy the music of JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound from AMAZON or iTunes

81. The Howlin’ Brothers – The Howlin’ Brothers – Howl - The Howlin’ Brothers are a three-piece string band that marries tradition with a DIY Indie Rock attitude.  Howl puts a big sound to the band’s upright bass, banjo and fiddle courtesy of Raconteur Brendan Benson on production.

 

Listen and buy the music of The Howlin’ Brothers from AMAZON or iTunes

82. Peter Cooper – Opening Day – Peter Cooper has a way with words. His stories look at the human condition through the eyes of a humorist, Opening Day starts with a team of heavy hitter songs that open doors to Peter’s past and peak though the windows of daily lives.

Listen and buy the music of Peter Cooper from AMAZON or iTunes

83. Los Colognes – Working Together – Los Colognes are the backing band for East Nashville soul man Jacob Jones. Working Togetherhas the same love of classic soul and funk that hits sound waves circa 2013 as new music, not retro flashbacks. Los Colognes never let you stop moving with grooves that cradle, nurture and push you back out into the world all the better for the experience.

Listen and buy the music of Los Colognes from AMAZON or iTunes

84. Audrey Auld – Tonk – Tonk takes pride in its classic sound and serves as an answer to haters that claim Nashville no longer can produce good old country music. Audrey Auld proves that statement false on a release that backs her breathy whispers and salvation shouts with Nashville studio A-listers like Kenny Vaughan. Audrey Auld takes on tough topics with humor and turns heartache into happy with the tough love heart healing of her vocals.

Listen and buy the music of Audrey Auld from AMAZON or iTunes

85. The Sojourners – Sing and Never Get Tired – The Sojourners turn our attention to the answers for contemporary problems, using faith to mend a broken heart or transform despair into hope. The choir The Sojourners lead wear is a Roots Gospel wings that will carry you high above your troubles and grant you a birds-eye view of the inspiration you are seeking. Though The Sojourners have the pipes to check into the Pop Gospel hotel, Sing and Never Get Tired uses dirty chords and gritty rhythms to establish its own street cred.

Listen and buy the music of The Sourners from AMAZON or iTunes

86. JJ Grey and Mofro - This River - Love and the various territories it inhabits float by as This River flows through ten tracks, most of which were captured live in the studio. JJ Grey gives life into his well-defined characters with soulful vocals. The Mofro members add to the depth of the songs with crisp horn arrangements and committed rhythms.

Listen and buy the music of JJ Grey and Mofro from AMAZON or iTunes

87. Dana Fuchs - Bliss Avenue  - The rawness of the songs comes from the natural blue tone of Dana’s delivery scrapping against her need to defy the Blues. Country twang and soul leapfrog for a shotgun seat as the songs on the album glide down Bliss Avenue. Dana Fuchs is a solid force amid the funky chunks of guitar chords and rock’n’roll preening as she shakes out her tail feathers.

Listen and buy the music of Dana Fuchs from AMAZON or iTunes

88. The Mallett Brothers – Land – The Mallett Brothers deliver a brand of Alt Country better defined as Northwoods Country Rock’n’Roll. The Portland, Maine-based band combine the folk influences of brothers Luke and Will from their dad, folk singer/songwriter David Mallett, with rock, punk and psychedelic roots.

Listen and buy the music of The Mallett Brothers from AMAZON or iTunes

89. Blue Rodeo – In Our Nature - In Our Nature offers a moody musical backdrop in the title track, a rainy day film noir that moves through foggy reveries such as “it’s in our nature to fly”. High flying is what Blue Rodeo has achieved in their three decade career, selling four million albums and never seeing studio album release in their recording history go below Gold status. The band has designed In Our Nature as an album to be heard on vinyl.

Listen and buy the music of Blue Rodeo from AMAZON or iTunes

90. Garrett LeBeau – Rise to the Grind – Garrett Lebeau’s intuitive guitar playing draws circles around, accents, and walks alongside his voice on stories gathered on Rise to the Grind. Both deliveries are gentle, almost hushed. There is never any hesitation, his art is just careful about choices and the album benefits in being a listening experience that transports to a dream state decorated by words and music.

Listen and buy the music of Garrett Lebeau from AMAZON or iTunes

91. Truth & Salvage Co. – Pick Me Up – The songs of Truth and Salvage Co. swoop and soar in a team effort. Four voices trade microphone duties and come together to underscore the stories while gluing the chorus to your brain. Living a good life and having a good time are timeless and that is the secret ingredient of Truth and Salvage, Co tunes.

Listen and buy the music of Truth & Salvage Co. from AMAZON or iTunes

92. The Tillers – Hand on the Plow - The Tillers started making a roots music racket in Cincinnati in 2007. They were recovering punk rockers whose music had some Woody Guthrie, some southern blues and a bunch of anonymous tunes found in the Appalachian woods, churches, riverboats, and coal mines. The Tillers use string instruments as vehicles to mine music styles and trends, and translate the tunes to something born in the hills and in the roots of rock’n’roll.

Listen and buy the music of The Tillers from AMAZON or iTunes

93. Wild Ponies - Things That Used to Shine - Wild Ponies expands on the power of two, husband and wife duo Doug and Telisha Williams. The band cultivates traditional sounds and instrumentation, use classic country as a guideline and craft a sound unique yet familiar, friendly and edgy.

Listen and buy the music of Wild Ponies from AMAZON or iTunes

94. Gracie Curran and the High-Falutin Band - Proof of Love - Gracie Curran possesses an amazing voice that can easily smoke the competition. It is to the credit of the High Falutin’ Band that they can not only be seen but heard above the sunspot blast of Gracie on Proof of Love, the band’s debut album. Sharp-edges leads and funky chord chops are the perfect foil for Gracie Curran’s heat-seeking vocals.

Listen and buy the music of Gracie Curran and the High-Faultin’ Band from AMAZON or iTunes

95. Spencer Livingston – Grow - Los Angeles native Spencer Livingston grew up on a steady diet of rock Americana with an early love of Neil Young, Tom Petty and Wilco. GROW serves up Alt sides of rock, folk and Americana using the backwoods of Los Angeles as a playground. Born and raised on the hem of Hollywood, Spencer Livingston has been nourished by a down-to-earth, artistic community supportive of his naturally rootsy inclination.

Listen and buy the music of Spencer Livingston from AMAZON or iTunes

96. Eric Bibb – Jericho Road  - Eric Bibb uses Jericho Road to deliver a message pointing out that, “the title refers to the road between Jerusalem and Jericho where the Good Samaritan stopped to help a stranger in need after better-off religious leaders had passed by and done nothing. On April 3, 1968, the night before his death, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King urged us to follow the example of the Good Samaritan, saying:  ‘Ultimately, you cannot save yourself without saving others.’  If this record has a theme, that’s it in a nutshell: have a heart.”

Listen and buy the music of Eric Bibb from AMAZON or iTunes

 

97. Xenia Dunford – His and Hers – Xenia Dunford dosed her debut liberally with jazz, piano ballads and pop, using the release as an experiment to test drive her teaching at Berklee School of Music. Her second album stretched into rock and acoustic sensibilities and with His & Hers, Xenia Dunford’s evolution adds musical hints of folk rock, country and Americana. She looks back on then from now realizing, “What drove me to play the piano in general was that I was a singer with no means of expression. My first EP was kind of like an experiment. I had a bunch of material, but I didn’t really look at the bigger picture of what my songs could be.”

Listen and buy the music of Xenia Dunford from AMAZON or iTunes

98. Fierce Bad Rabbit – The Maestro & The Elephant - Fierce Bad Rabbit circle a Roots sound; they are a rock band that dapples country riffs and twang throughout the songs. Chris Anderson’s vocals have the power for rock yet there are moments when the emotion weighs and the frail notes flutter without ever fully being extinguished. The songs on The Maestro and the Elephant are grounded with solid rhythms, bright jangly guitar leads and sweeping orchestral swooshes.

Listen and buy the music of Fierce Bad Rabbit from AMAZON or iTunes

99. Ghost Brothers of Darkland County – Various Artists – Co-conspirators Stephen King, John Mellencamp and T Bone Burnett have spent thirteen years putting the finishing touches on their southern gothic, supernatural musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. The musical features blues ‘n roots music performed by guest artists such as Elvis Costello, Phil and Dave Alvin, Neko Case, Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash and more. The haunting tale involves fraternal love, lust, jealousy and revenge.

Listen and buy the music of Ghost Hunters of Darkland County from AMAZON or iTunes

100. Semi-Twang – The Why and The What For – In 2009, Semi-Twang celebrated their 20th anniversary as a band. Their 2013 release,The Why and the What For, puts together an album that Semi- Twang see as something that “ups the stakes as it traverses through the musical geography of Memphis, Muscle Shoals and New Orleans with passion and conviction. It's topical and personal with a bit more soul influence.”

Listen and buy the music of Semi-Twang from AMAZON or iTunes

MUSIC FROM ALBUM 76 THROUGH 100

 

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Welcome to the first installment of what will be a regular feature here at The Alternate Root. It’s an old fashioned Top 10 list.My name is Scott Kempner, and for most of my forty years here in the business of Show, I have also answered to the nickname, Top 10. Top 10’s Top 10 Countdown is the name. The subjects will vary - sometimes wildly. They may or may not even all be music related, or at least not necessarily be about music per se. I just don’t know. As if this needs to be said, there is nothing scientific, Etched In Stone, didactic, going on here. This will be only marginally objective. It will be opinions (uh, mine), subjective as they come, out the yin-yang. We can discuss, argue a bit, have some fun with it, and maybe have some MORE fun with it. Please folks, no wagering. So, have fun, please check out some of these records.

TOP 10’S TOP 10 GARAGE ROCK RECORDS - (this one goes to eleven!)

 

 

 

1. PSYCHOTIC REACTION - THE COUNT FIVE - Numero uno. My very favorite Garage Rock classic. Here is the Yardbirds side of the YBirds/Stones Garage Rock mid-60’s scene) paradigm in full glory. First, the lead guitar & kick drum enter, then the harmonica, then the rhythm guitar, then the bass, & THEN THE DRUMS, the Godhead moment when Garage Rock Heaven cracks open and reveals itself to us mortals back on Earth. From San Jose to the Top 10. And yes, to the top of Top 10’s personal Top 10, too!!

Listen and buy “Psychotic Reaction” by The Count Five from AMAZON or iTunes

2. WHO DO YOU LOVE - THE PREACHERS - I dig this maniacal version of Bo Diddley’s oft-covered classic even more than Bo’s original. (Fairly) Crazed, (pretty much) out of control, and (positively) meant to freak out the neighbors. Play loud, although be warned – it could get you kicked out of your apartment!  Everybody scream along!

 

Listen and buy “Who Do You Love” by The Preachers from AMAZON or iTunes

 

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3. THIRTEEN WOMEN - THE UK RENEGADES - A super-charged, freakbeat cover of what was actually the A-side to the B-side of Bill Haley and the Comets’ Rock Around the Clock. From Sweden, no less. Yes, The UK Renegades were from Sweden?!!?

4. I CAN ONLY GIVE YOU EVERYTHING- THEM - Van Morrison rides a three-note fuzz guitar lick into Garage Rock nirvana in what remains my favorite track he has ever recorded. My pal Little Steven’s fave Garage record of all time.

 

Listen and buy “I Can Only Give You Everything” by Them from AMAZON

5. RUMBLE - LINK WRAY - A little early in the game, as it was released back in 1958. Link Wray worked his voodoo guitar violence despite being one lung short of a set. He became a fixture on the CBGB scene in the 70’s, when he played with Robert Gordon. Rumble remains the only instrumental ever banned for obscenity. Howzabout THAT??!!

 

Listen and buy “Rumble” by Link Wray from AMAZON or iTunes

6. LEANING ON YOU -  THE SWINGIN’ YO-YOS - Not a Yardbirds/Stones paradigm here, but a rare Stones/Beatles collision. Could only have come from Memphis. British Invasion meets Memphis Soul. I never knew of this minor masterpiece until it came with the sampler cd from a special Southern Music issue of American Oxford magazine back in the late 90s.

7. 96 TEARS - ? AND THE MYSTERIANS - From the great year of 1966, this is the ultimate in Monotony-as-Godhead. Top to bottom genius, no, make that GENIUS!! Question Mark (Earth name: Rudy Martinez) was from Mars, you know, or was it Jupiter? I forget. The band, however, was from Michigan.

Listen and buy “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians from AMAZON or iTunes

8. PSYCHO - THE SONICS - A typical, ferocious, throat ripping, corrosive Jerry Roslie vocal and a song whose title says it all. An everythinglouder-than-everything-else mix that will knock your speakers right off the wall. Something hard to digest was obviously in the water in the Pacific Northwest in 1965. This went from being the B-side to The Witch to being an A-side later that year.

Listen and buy “Psycho” by The Sonics from AMAZON or iTunes

9. TALK TALK - THE MUSIC MACHINE - I love their look – the one-gloved hand on each member of this great and underrated West Coast band, fronted by Sean Bonniwell. The Yardbirds/Stones Garage Rock paradigm in full effect.

Listen and buy “Talk Talk” by Music Machine from AMAZON or iTunes

10. 7 & 7 IS - LOVE - Before the classic Forever Changes, and after their assault on Burt Bachrach & Hal David’s My Little Red Book, Arthur Lee and Love let rip with this firestorm of a minor hit single about, well, who the hell knows what it’s about??!!. It’s the only hit single I can think of that features the recording of a major explosion.  Let’s take a poll as to what it is at the end that combusts.

Listen and buy “7 and 7 is” by Love from AMAZON or iTunes

11. ARE YOU A BOY OR ARE YOU A GIRL? - THE BARBARIANS - From the Boston area, these guys asked the musical question that was still on everybody’s mind in 1965 after the double whammy of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones first appearances on American TV back in 1964. Their drummer, Moulty, had a hook for a hand, too. He tells us all the tale on their follow-up called, yes, MOULTY (which they perform in the great Rock movie of all time, The T.A.M.I. Show).

Listen and buy “Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?” by The Barbarians from AMAZON or iTunes

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26- St. Paul and the Broken Bones – Half the City   (2-18-14) - Paul Janeway grew up in a devout household with little non-religious music being heard at home. Paul’s plan was to become a minister, a goal until he was 18 years old. He was seduced by an open mic night in Birmingham, AL, expanded his musical experiences beyond The Mighty Clouds of Joy and into Tom Waits and Nick Cave. It is Soul that crowned St. Paul, and The Broken Bones became the chariot that carried him and the Birmingham, Alabama sextet to finally release their debut of rock’n’soul, Half the City.

Listen and buy the music of St. Paul and the Broken Bones from AMAZON or iTunes

26 – Steelism – 615 to Fame   (9-16-14) - Steelism play smart instrumentals that are happier making a melody than grandstanding flash and fury in the playing. The band creates a Roots Modern sound that touches on Mod and Spaghetti Western style.

Listen and buy music by Steelism from AMAZON or iTunes

 

28 – John Mellencamp – Plain Spoken   (9-22-14) - The is a literary tone to the songs on Plain Spoken. John Mellencamp stages his heartland stories, giving them a wider range of emotion and heft than living inside the borders of a Pop song.

Listen and buy music by John Mellencamp from AMAZON or iTunes

29 – Chuck Mead - Free State Serenade    (3-4-14) - Chuck Mead opened the Broadway show Million Dollar Quarter as musical director for the performances. On Free State Serenade, Chuck and the boys in the band present an album that could have been an extension of the Sun Records jam session that gave over its story if the players had gotten along and made an album.

Listen and buy music by Chuck Mead from AMAZON or iTunes

30 – Israel Nash – Israel Nash’s Rain Plans   (8-19-14) - Israel Nash perfectly captured the tone and texture of classic album from Neil Young and Van Morrison with his 2014 release, Israel Nash’s Rain Plans. Live, the band present the album in its entirety and sequentially.

Listen and buy the music of Israel Nash from AMAZON or iTunes

31 – Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes   (1-14-14) - Bruce Springsteen enlisted E Street Band members, including contributions from departed members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici as well as Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello for High Hopes. The album is a collection of unfinished tracks and re-worked tunes from his catalog, such as the raw meat version of “The Ghost of Tom Joad”.

Listen and buy the music of Bruce Springsteen from AMAZON or iTunes

32 – Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen – Cold Spell     (8-12-14) Cold Spell expands on the song catalog of Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen without compromising its intentions. The band have a knack for matching music to pain, desires and longing in Frank Solivan’s vocals with the sonic textures cradle and rock the stories with strong support to get them through troubled times of the heart.

Listen and buy the music of Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen from AMAZON or iTunes

33 -Brent Johnson – Set the World on Fire   (4-8-14) -  “My sound is rooted in the blues, though I don’t pretend to be a purist, and I don’t want to be. I write music based on my experiences and the sounds I grew up with; I never want to pretend that I had the same experiences as the old bluesmen did, so I’m not going around trying to sound like them. What I do is put the emphasis on the feeling of the music, the passion, the urgency, the directness –that’s the goal.” Brent Johnson introduces himself with short bursts, but it is not the words of the New Orleans-based Blues/Rock guitarist that has you showing up early for the party; it is his playing. Set the World on Fire is kinda the perfect title for his release on Canadian imprint, Justin Time Records….bravado that will immediately get the hackles of true believers raised, and guitar work that will have them saying they saw Brent in some little hole in the wall rock club way before anybody heard of him.

Listen and buy the music of Brent Johnson from AMAZON or iTunes

34 -Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coalition   - Dark Night of the Soul    (1-18-14) - The songs of Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coliation have a presence; they invade each arrangement making Dark Night of the Soul a majestic album on full listen. The band jumps into each song with a beautiful display of coordinated chaos. Luckily, the folks that roam the tunes halls fit perfectly with music that wears Jimbo’s rock and roll heart on its sleeve. The title track starts life on a scratchy church basement piano, pulling the curtain back slowly behind Jimbo’s stage soul pleas as the boys in the band plug in to back their brother behind the microphone.

Listen and buy the music of Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coalition from AMAZON or iTunes

35 -Keb’ Mo’ – Bluesamericana   (4-22-14) - Keb’ Mo’ uses the strength of  a solid groove to suggest that there are times in life when limits are reached and you got to “Move”, a track from his most recent release, BLUESAmericana. The rhythm is a physical thing on the song as Keb Mo’ finger points with his guitar licks, laying down the rule of the house…. ‘you ain’t got to go home but you can’t stay here’. He took his own advice and headed back into the studio to record, though the inspiration for BLUESAmericana came way before the wisdom of the tracks. The album’s nine originals and a cover of a tune Keb’ first heard sung by Mississippi Sheiks Sam Chatmon, “That’s Alright”, began the recording process. Keb’ Mo’ knows himself, and that “I only make albums when I’m inspired to, and these ten songs come from a very honest place”. Since his last album, Keb’ had gone through life challenges as he and his wife persevered tough turns on the marriage road. He touches on the need, and is thankful for the ability to talk things out in “For Better or Worse”. He felt that patch in his marriage forced him to take a look, realizing “I had to learn more about myself and in doing that I felt a personal shift’

Listen and buy the music of Keb’ Mo’ from AMAZON or iTunes

36 – Leftover Salmon – High Country   (12-30-14) - New members and a renewed passion can be heard in the musical continuity of High Country. High Country features LoS playing from a stronger bluegrass center point. The lines thread through folk rock, country rambles, rock, and reggae.   The subtle banjo playing of Andy Thorn runs as an undercurrent as it wraps around the tracks on High Country, like his playing does in the title track, kicking the tune off with a classic banjo opener and maintaining a presence within the constant rhythm machine stoked by his bandmates.

Listen and buy the music of Leftover Salmon from AMAZON or iTunes

37 - Carlene Carter – Carter Girl   (4-8-14) - Carlene Carter boards a “Little Black Train” to start off her most recent release, Carter Girl. The locomotive tune is running a full route, making station stops at songs made popular by the forebears of her musical legacy, The Carter Family. Carlene Carter is the daughter of June Carter Cash and country music superstar Carl Smith, and the granddaughter of Maybelle Carter aka Mother Maybelle, original member of The Carter Family formed in 1927 in the Virginia town of Maces Springs. The group was ground zero for Country music, recording several of the genres standards such as “Will the Circle be Unbroken” and “Keep on the Sunny Side”. The Carter Family influenced generations by developing but also integrating Country music with Folk, Bluegrass, Gospel, Rock….and how those styles translated to Pop.

Listen and buy the music of Carlene Carter from AMAZON or iTunes

38- Will Kimbrough – Sideshow Love     (2-18-14) - Will Kimbrough uses his latest release title, Sideshow Love, to focus on matters of the heart. The Love in Will’s Sideshow walks a carnival midway filled with bright lights and dark shadows, strong men and bearded women, exotic beauties and transient roundabouts. Will Kimbrough is the barker standing outside his album’s tent to draw you in with quality songwriting and styles that offer three-ring diversity. The album’s mix of music and moods fits the man behind the song, Will Kimbrough. Songwriter, performer and producer is a good resume, one that gets a hand up the ladder with work as sideman guitarist with Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and Kim Richey, musical rambles with longtime friends Todd Snider and Tommy Womack and a quarter owner of the Willie Sugarcapps sound.

Listen and buy the music of Will Kimbrough from AMAZON or iTunes

39 - Queen Esther – The Other Side  (5-25-14) - Queen Esther is a beneficent ruler of The Other Side, expressing her advice, experience and personal hopes over a sound track of Black Americana, stirring a roux of Blues, Country, Soul, Jazz and Rock to spice her songs. She brands the varied genres as her own as her voice, becoming the sound of a breaking country heart, tough love dressed in dirty blues, and crawling inch by inch over echoey piano notes.

Listen and buy the music of Queen Esther from AMAZON or iTunes

40 -Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits   (2-18-14) - Lake Street Dive have moved forward and have kept their musical focus pure. They have traveled from up sidewalks, keeping their musical focus leveled on the sparkle of 60’s Pop. The songs on Bad Self Portrait, the band’s recent release, siphon sound from the heydays of 1960’s genre-blending Pop that mattered with nods to Brill Building girl-groups, British invasion bands, R&B, horn-fueled Stax soul and Motown. The bright musical bed softens the blows of the heartbreak and headaches of love in the tales on Bad Self Portrait

Listen and buy the music of Lake Street Dive from AMAZON or iTunes

41 – John Hiatt – The Terms of My Surrender   (7-15-14) - John Hiatt recorded (for the most part) ‘off the floor’ as he would in a live setting, which was fitting since the band in the studio was Hiatt’s exceptional touring band, Nathan Gehri, Kenneth Blevins, Brandon Young and Doug Lancio. The music goes back to the Blues yet the story lines maintain John Hiatt’s ability to get to the heart of an emotion and his bedside manner of softening the blow with quick wit and a knowing nod.

Listen and buy the music of John Hiatt from AMAZON or iTunes

42 – Dom Flemons – The American Songster Dom Flemons, Prospect Hill  (7-28-14) - Dom Flemons is a modern musician, a tour guide for a busload of sound. He hits the Southwest desert at dusk right when the photographer’s ‘magic hour’ is ripe (“Sonorian Church Two-Step”) and walks in muddy water with fast-paced words to make it through Mississippi muck as he revisits a tune from Memphis songster Frank Stokes. Dom Flemons not only plays the music of the past as it was originally presented, he does it with pride for every note, happy to present authentic representations for tunes he penned and the work of others. The American Songster Dom Flemons puts history and tradition, styles and sounds all into a song on Prospect Hill.

Listen and buy the music of Dom Flemons from AMAZON or iTunes

43 – Nell Robinson – The Rose of No-Man’s Land   (11-4-14) - Nell Robinson chooses the vehicle of song to stitch a quilt of lives onThe Rose of No-Man’s Land,integrating the heritage of her own Alabama family during 250 years of war. For the most part, the stories captured in the songs are from archived letters, documents, mementos and generational lore, all centered on war and service. Beginning with Revolutionary War to the present, Nell Robinson weaves national and family history along withproducer Joe Henry and a cast of musical friends lending a hand, including Kris Kristofferson, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and John Doe, performing songs by Nell Robinson, Rodney Crowell (“Scots Irish”, Guy Clark (“Heroes”), Johnny Cash and Bill Monroe.

Listen and buy the music of Nell Robinson from AMAZON or iTunes

44 – The Hello Strangers - The Hello Strangers   (5-23-14) - The Hello Strangers had a slew of tunes written in a cottage off South Congress Street in Austin, Texas that they squeezed into the backseat of a rural Pennsylvania-bound car along with lives, dogs and Larissa’s husband (not necessarily in that order). The result is a self-titled release for The Hello Strangers.

Listen and buy music from The Hello Strangers from AMAZON or iTunes

45- The Holmes Brothers – Brotherhood   (4-1-14) - Family of choice holds men and women closer than blood, and that sentiment has proven true for The Holmes Brothers. Two of the members, Wendell and Sherman Holmes, are attached by ancestry. The third man, Popsy Dixon, is a Holmes Brother because there is just no other place that he could, or should, be. The Holmes Brothers celebrate and define the band, and music, on their recent release, Brotherhood. The album is their fifth album for Alligator Records. Wendell Holmes (guitar, piano, vocals) shares the recipe that has kept The Holmes Brothers cooking for three decades; “Great songs, whether we write them or not, bring great things. And we are all striving to write, find and perform great songs.

Listen and buy the music of the Holmes Brothers from AMAZON or iTunes

46- Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons   -  Hey Kid   (1-21-14) - Hey Kid might just be the gold standard for roots rock’n’roll as Angela’s voice curls around the power of the playing. She teases in her delivery, waiting a beat, to drop bombs by the way of one-liners, winks and promises. Hey Kid is the first full length album from Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons following four EP’s since forming in 2009. The Howlin’ Moons explode out of the speakers with a barely contained ferocity tamed by Angela Perley’s smoother seduction.

Listen and buy the music of Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons from AMAZON or iTunes

47 – Eric Brace & Karl Straub – Hangtown Dancehall   (1-21-14) - Hangtown Dancehall features a stunning array of musicians featuring players such as Tim O’Brien, Pat McInherney, Jen Gunderman, Fats Kaplin, Buddy Spicher and Mike Auldrige. Lead vocals come in the form of the musical’s characters as played by Kelly Willis, Eric Brace, Karl Straub, Tim O’Brien, Darrell Scott, Wesley Stace, Jason Ringenberg and Andrea Zohn. A-list players are surrounded by warm melodies and tempos that never get too far from the dancehall.

Listen and buy the music of Eric Brace and Karl Straub in Hangtown Dancehall from AMAZON or iTunes

48 – Adam Carroll – Let It Choose You   (5-19-14) - There is an art to songwriting that makes its characters so real, so strong, that the singer and the song are in the backseat on the three minute ride that puts the men and women stars of the tale behind the wheel. Adam Carroll is one of those songwriters on his recent release Let It Choose You, a student of the school of Jerry Jeff Walker, Jo-El Sonnier, Todd Snider, John Prine, and Guy Clark (“Wrote It for You”). Adam is a born and raised Texas songwriter  and Let It Choose You picks a Gulf Coast sound that blends folk, Cajun, country and rock’n’roll.

Listen and buy music from Adam Carroll from AMAZON or iTunes

49 – Bob Seger – Ride Out   (10-14-14) - In a time when rockers are looking to roots music for a career shift and Roots musicains are citing classic rock as inspiration, the most impressive thing about the Bob Seger album, Ride Out, is that he made a Bob Seger album, leaning only on personal influence with a heavy hand and history. Ride Out smokes the competition with ease, and Bob Seger muscles up the Roots Rock that made his name as Detroit-famous as the assembly line heroes that fueled his tunes.

Listen and buy music from Bob Seger from AMAZON or iTunes

50 - Eden Brent – Jigsaw Heart   (5-6-14) - It is the lady and her piano that take center stage on any Eden Brent recording or performance. As a solo artist or as a bandleader, Eden is the single cell that gives the music life as much as her Mississippi Delta heritage hardwires the blues into her own playing. Eden Brent and her Blues made the trip north from Mississippi to record her latest release, Jigsaw Heart, in Nashville with guitarist/solo performer and member of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Bob Dylan’s band, Colin Linden, sitting in the producer’s chair.   Blues blood of broken and bubbling love courses through Jigsaw Heart, the album forming a circle of the lost and found love within the tracks puzzle pieces.  Blues boogie, and Eden’s personal history of learning the 88’s, has garnered the nickname Lil’ Boogaloo. The boogie is present on Jigsaw Heart though its songs stretch out, laying out the album’s tunes out as a musical songbook of Southern styles such as Gospel, Soul, Country and R&B to exist alongside Eden’s natural Blues.

Listen and buy the music of Eden Brent from AMAZON or iTunes

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