Alpha Mule (from the album Peripheral Vision)
Alpha Mule is a Southern California duo of artistic multi-taskers, the group’s musicians both entrenched in a visual art world with Joey Forkan an exhibiting painter and Professor of Art at CSU Fullerton and Eric Stoner a professional photographer, teaching photography classes at Laguna College of Art and Design. The recent release from Alpha Mule, Peripheral Vision, was recorded in Tucson, Arizona, the album featuring local Arizona musicians with Calexico’s Joey Burns and Jacob Valenzuela. With a west coast focus, Peripheral Vision, debuts the sound of Alpha Mule, and their mix of Blues, Folk, Country, Bluegrass, and Rock’n’Roll.
Alpha Mule shuffle along with the shady characters and quick moving hustlers in “Pavlov”, dance a wavering waltz melody over “The Distance”, back “Mule in the Mine” with a jugband ramble, and put a little Country into the love story of “On the Moon”. Peripheral Vision strums a honky tonk sway for its title track and follow as the banjo leads down the outlaw trails through “Corpus Christi” as Alpha Mule use instruments as the storyline for a western adventurer in “The Ballad of Huell Howser”.
Listen and buy the music of Alpha Mule from AMAZON
Darling West (from the album While I Was Asleep)
For their third album release, While I Was Asleep, Darling West went into the studio with a suitcase full of new songs, putting themselves into the producer’s seat for the recording, and adding drums to their sound. While I Was Asleep benefits from the steady touring, playing festivals in their native Norway, and venturing into the U.S. market with slots at AmericanaFest and Folk Alliance. The songs on While I Was Asleep stay true to the Americana/Roots curated by Darling West, adding a Pop sensibility into the tracks with the production touching the title track with a hint of psychedelia, punching up the beat of “Don’t I Know You”, and soundtracking “Always Around” with a delicate flurry of Folk acoustics over a persistent shuffle of heartbeat percussion.
The music of Darling West drifts over land and ocean from Roots sounds developed in the mountains and deserts of the United States. While I Was Asleep echoes sounds of the American Southwest as dry breezes blow over “Ballad of an Outlaw”, banjo and guitar strums guide the string band backing for “How I Wish”, and tender guitar notes and dreamy pedal steel swells comfort “Traveller”. Darling West stretch out their sound, keeping the charm of Americana in place as they confidently stride into While I Was Asleep with a musical awareness as they attempt to find the same maturity in the life decisions of “Better Than Gold”.
Listen and buy the music of Darling West from AMAZON
Demos Papadimas (from the album The “Lucky You” E.P.)
Greek Rembetico is a style of music that surfaced in the 1960’s when varied forms of urban Greek music were drawn into a common genre. The stories mirrors the lives of the Greek people, speaking to their souls, reflecting the trials and tribulations….the Greek Blues. Demos Papadimas incorporates the Mediterranean influence of Rembetico into his songs, blending European influences with a heartland Roots music developed in his Ohio homebase. Demos Papadimas releases an E.P. of the blending of styles with The “Lucky You” E.P., his band a ‘truly collaborative effort’ as Demos adds to his guitar, harmonica, and bouzouki with a solid rhythm, an additional guitar, and violin.
Country rhythms open the E.P. as Demos Papadimas waves goodbye and wonders the fate of a friend in need of room to move on with “Still the Same” and boards a fast-track beat to wrangle “Tension in the Air”. The world can be a weary place and Demos Papadimas accurately casts shadows on our daily lives in his songs. The stories on The “Lucky You” E.P. have words that support and inspire, and at the very least pull wayward souls back from teetering over the edge. Demos Papadimas quiets the instrumentation to offer advice on the title track and structures “Somehow” as an audio example of his style blend while The “Lucky You” E.P. exits on a live track with “How Long”.
Listen and buy the music of Demos Papadimas from AMAZON
Fruition (from the album Watching It All Fall Apart)
Sharp guitar notes accent the message in “I’ll Never Sing Your Name” as rolling beats tumble underneath “There She Was” and shuffled percussion skitters under the gentle promises for better times in “Eraser”. Musically, the songs breathe varied styles, blending and mixing together Indie Rock and Roots throughout Watching It All Fall Apart, the recent release from Portland, Oregon’s Fruition. A Country sway cradles the night’s goal of “Let’s Take It Too Far” as a stuttering groove hesitates like the story in “I Should Be (on Top of the World)”, Beatles-esque Pop bubbles around “Turn to Dust”, and a mighty stomp kicks open the doors of Watching It All Fall Apart with opening cut, “Stuck on You”.
For the fifth full-length release, Fruition collected stories about heartbreak, the band feeling that ‘the songs are mostly breakup songs. There was love and now it’s gone—we fucked it up, or some outside circumstance brought it to an end. It’s about dealing with all that but still having hope in your heart, even if you’re feeling a little lost and jaded’. Sonics twirl and spin as “FOMO” wanders through dramatic scenes of an evening as Fruition make a wish on “Lonesome Prayer” and find themselves alone in a “Northern Town” on a sad Americana tale.
Listen and buy the music of Fruition from AMAZON
Sarah McQuaid (from the album If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous)
Light and dark swirl through If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous, the recent release from Sarah McQuaid. A weight falls on the topics, the stories stare into the face of mortality as Sarah McQuaid brightens the theme by surrounding the tales with guitar notes, primarily on acoustic strings. A loan from producer Michael Chapman is the backing for the title track as Sarah plugs in an electric guitar to intricately entwine the playing with the subtle percussion of the track. If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous stacks cover versions in the middle of an album listen, reworking “Forever Autumn”, made famous by Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues, leading into the Gregorian chant “Dies Irae”, continuing the mood into an English language translation of the title with an instrumental written by Sarah McQuaid, “The Day of Wrath; That Day”.
Carefully plucked notes sparkle like refracted light as the mood turns somber to consider “Time to Love” while more form is given to the musical structures of the instrumental “New Beginnings” as If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous watches flesh and bone fade with “Slow Decay” and “Break Me Down”. There is a depth to the vocals of Sarah McQuaid, the velvet resonance a match for her talents on guitar. Sarah McQuaid slowly follows “The Tug of the Moon” on barely moving rhythms while If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous relates the eminent demise of a bird in “One Sparrow Down”.
Listen and buy the music of Sarah McQuaid from AMAZON
R.X. Bertoldi (from the album Strong Roots and Readings)
R.X. Bertoldi learned many years ago how to express his feelings in a song. The lessons came at a young age and followed a path fairly familiar to musicians. R.X. found music he liked, figured out a way to copy what he heard, and then used his guitar to write some songs of his own. Strong Roots and Readings, the recent release from R.X. Bertoldi, goes back to the singer/songwriter’s formative days, tributing artists that inspired his younger self, and re-working the tracks as a thank you to musician mentors. Many of the cuts on Strong Roots and Readings are familiar with R.X. Bertoldi keeping the memories on course with honest audio reenactments of the melodies, offering tunes such “Ooh La La” (The Faces) and “Blue Suede Shoes (Carl Perkins) true to origins while he delivers J.J Cale’s “After Midnight” with its Tulsa groove giving a foundation to a fresh take on the track.
Bob Dylan has a firm hold on Strong Roots and Readings with his name attached to three cuts on the album. R.X. Bertoldi unearths an outtake from Dylan’s Infidels release with “Lord Protect My Child” and borrows a track Bob Dylan wrote for Eric Clapton with “If I Don’t Be There by Morning”. The album revisits a forgotten chorus from Bob Dylan that became the cornerstone for a career when Ketch Secor added verses in “Wagon Wheel”, the tune becoming a signature song for Ketch’s band, Old Crow Medicine Show. Tom Waits gets double tracking on Strong Roots and Readings as R.X. Bertoldi climbs into “Ol’ 55” and cruises down “(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night”. While the songs are familiar enough to be included as the fabric for many lives already, R.X. Bertoldi breathes new life in the tracks with a vocal warmth and a blast of energy as he covers Randy Newman (“You’ve Got a Friend in Me”), John Hiatt (“Slow Turning”), and doubles down on The Rolling Stones, giving an Americana makeover to “Beast of Burden” and “Get Off of My Cloud”.
Listen and buy the music of R.X. Bertoldi from AMAZON
Hamilton Loomis (from the album Basics)
Opening on a deeply personal note, Hamilton Loomis begins the song cycle of his recent release, Basics, with a story and a special message for his son. In 2015, his toddler was diagnosed with HI (hyperinsulinism), a rare disease that causes low blood sugar. As a musician, Loomis offers a helping hand by raising awareness with the lead cut, “Sugar Baby," dedicating the song to his son and other kids, called ‘sugar babies,’ and their families. Musically, the rhythm of the track sets the pace for Basics, layering guitar leads over a non-stop Rock Funk groove. Loomis balances the natural Soul of his vocals with assured beats, slowing the pace without depleting the punch with “Prayer," scratching out a forceful strut on guitar chords for “Ain’t What It Ain’t,” and throwing out a line using promises as bait on the solid backbeat of “Come and Get Me.”
Growing up in Galveston, Texas, Loomis' family, specifically their love and performance of music, were a major influence on his future musical paths. Meeting Bo Diddley backstage at a Houston show when he was 16 lit the fire even further as he found himself on stage playing guitar alongside the legend, who went on to become a mentor, collaborator, and supporter. Diddley performs on two of Loomis' earlier albums, and even gifted his fellow Texan one of his cherished red guitars, which Hamilton still plays today. Basics pulls the story out of “Breaking Down” with classic Rhythm and Blues and pounds out a beat for the magic brew of “Candles and Wine.” Loomis wrangles rhythm out of the tangled melody of “Looking into a Dream”, pushes out a stuttered groove as he re-thinks his game for “If I Would’ve” and chops up chords for the album-closing jam of “Funky Little Brother.”
Listen and buy the music of Hamilton Loomis from AMAZON
HAVE A LISTEN TO HAMILTON LOOMIS:
Christine Rosander (from the album Been a Long Time)
Before she launches into the recent album release Been a Long Time, Christine Rosander introduces a major inspiration in her life and her music; her mother. The first track, “Honey for the Soul”, strums its way into Been a Long Time, describing the woman while touching on the gifts handed down from mother to daughter. Christine Rosander feels that ‘my mom’s spirit came through in the writing of this song. It’s truly a gift to me. It captures her elegance and beauty and is a celebration of all she taught me about music and the sweetness of life”. A tribute to the love and lessons of her childhood continue as Christine Rosander borders the album with another thank you note in the gentle piano ramblings of the final track, “You Made Me Who I Am”, framing the album with her personal appreciation for the music, and setting the stage for the emotions that walk the halls of Been a Long Time.
Growing up in Northern California, Christine Rosander’s musical journey started with church and classical piano lessons that began at age four. She complemented her training with Pop and Jazz studies, receiving a Masters degree from USC for Jazz performance. She has given back as a music teacher for twenty years, coming out of personal life hurdles with a new resolve and a satchel full of stories. The songs of Christine Rosander allow their tales a confessional tone as Been a Long Time lays down a backbeat on a barrelhouse piano to remind “That’s How the Story Goes”, watches dignity fade in abuse as life again begins, rising up on “Soul and Bone”, and bids goodbye to a physical presence as “Love Remains” finds forever in her heart. Been a Long Time quietly puts a bluesy Jazz under the memories of the title track, wanders along a rhythmic sway for the admissions of “Hard Habit”, and whispers a request with “Love Me the Way I Am” as Christine Rosander finds a child buried in her adult form with “Inside This Body” and forces herself forward through shattered dreams with the wishes of “I Wanna Be”.
Listen and buy the music of Christine Rosander from AMAZON
There is power in quiet intimacy of Mare Wakefield’s vocals. Her delivery finds a match in the refined keyboard work of Nomad. The duo as Mare Wakefield and Nomad have a new album release with Time to Fly. The album takes off, catching air on a true co-piloting as Mare Wakefield has trouble mourning on “The Day We Buried Mama (and Cousin Bobby Joe Got Wed)” as Nomad moves the mood from a somber affair with church organ and into a festive mood with honky tonk piano. Accordion notes fortify the resolve in “I Will Not Be Broken” while the commitment of the character in “Breathe” takes hope higher as piano rolls let a Blue Jazz Be-Bop rhythm carry the tale of “The Boxer and the Beauty Queen”.
For both Mare Wakefield and Nomad, life has been about movement, pilgrims on a journey that gave Mare eight different home addresses before she was ten. The child of wanderers, she explains that ‘Daddy was a seeker. Eventually he became a Salvationist minister. Mama was a gypsy, loving nothing more than a long stretch of highway’. Nomad was born in Turkey, beginning his musical education at the Istanbul Conservatory before receiving a scholarship to Berklee School of Music. Currently based in Nashville, Tennessee, Mare Wakefield and Nomad see the colors of autumn tumble on an equally cascading rhythm in “Falling”, and raise the spirits with the enthusiastic confidence and bounce of “Real Big Love” as “Land of the Free” takes sides for liberty and Time to Fly shares the tender tale of “Bernice & Bernadette”.
Listen and buy the music of Mare Wakefield & Nomad from AMAZON
Raven and Red – “Moonshine and Make-Up”
Prior to coming together in Nashville, Tennessee, Raven and Red called Pennsylvania and Georgia home. Brittany Lynn Jones (violin, vocals, tenor guitar) along with brothers Mitchell Lane (lead vocals, guitar) and Cole King (vocals, mandolin, violin formed Raven and Red in 2009, backing their collective songwriting with Americana, Celtic, Rock’n’Roll, Classical, Folk, and Country.
On February 2, 2018, Raven and Red will release the album We Rise Up. The band is premiering a video of “Moonshine and Make-Up” from We Rise Up, giving an advance listen to the recording. The filming of the video showcases Raven and Red, and gives props from family with the choice of moonshine. Tommy Townsend is Mitchell & Cole’s cousin on their grandfather's side. He is the owner/founder of Grandaddy Mimm's (the hooch shown in the video) Moonshine Distillery in Blairsville, Georgia. He is also the singer/guitarist for Waymore's Outlaws, which features Waylon Jennings' band members. They are carrying on the legacy of Waylon, backing up Shooter Jennings on the road for the past few years.
Raven and Red have joined the lineup for the 2018 Dailey & Vincent LandFest in the Mountains, held at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee, GA.
Listen and buy music from Raven and Red on AMAZON