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”.
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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.”
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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”.
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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”.
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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.
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