Trapper Schoepp (from the album May Day available from Grand Phony Music) (by Bryant Liggett)
Singer-songwriter Trapper Schoepp nails the gentle jangle and Indie Pop sound on his latest on May Day. At times a breezy and sunny upbeat blast of Pop and Rock, the sound of May Day has sugary sweet urgings that can be blunt and dramatic. A good time in disguise, Trapper Schoepp lays out the title track with an upbeat head-bop melody ripe for summertime beers in the back seat while delivering the heavy line ‘you’re a bad drug, its time I kick it’. These breezy melodies carry a dose of reality. “River of Disaster” forgoes the happy bounce for a dramatic soundscape, a tune of taking your punches while asking for more as Trapper Schoepp sings ‘hit rock bottom, kept on digging, took my medicine, kept on singing’.
“Paris Syndrome” reminds us to not believe the hype, singing ‘disconnected, I am lost’ suggesting things aren’t as good as you thought while “Little Drop of Medicine” weaves Indie Rock psychedelics around Trapper Schoepp’s vocal ache. “Solo Quarantine” sums up what most of the world felt since March 2020, and “I Am a Rider” hears Trapper Schoepp doing a laid-back vocal scat on the phrase ‘take me as I am’. Melodically fun and musically playful, May Day is a singer-songwriter record of electric Folk for the Indie crowd. (by Bryant Liggett)
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Grace Pettis (from the album Working Woman available on MPress Records) (by Dave Steinfeld)
Grace Pettis has been kicking around the music scene for a while — both as a solo artist and as a member of the trio Nobody’s Girl. But her new album Working Woman, released on Rachael Sage’s Mpress Records, should catapult this fiery redhead from Alabama (but now based in Austin) to the next level. The 10-song disc alternates between rockers and ballads, between autobiography and more universal concerns. But throughout, the songs are well written and Mary Bragg’s production is radio-friendly. Backing Grace Pettis is an all-female band. There are some famous guests on the album, including the Indigo Girls, Ruthie Foster, and Dar Williams. In the end, however, this is Pettis’ show — and she proves herself a star. While her vocals can be tender — on ballads such as “Paper Boat” and “Any Kind of Girl” (which addresses violence against women) — Grace Pettis is also capable of turning it up when she needs to. Nowhere is this more evident than on the title track.
Grace Pettis has said that this album had to be called Working Woman and it’s not hard to see why. The title song, “Working Woman”, is dedicated to her mom, should be Kamala Harris’ campaign song if she runs for President in 2024. ‘Get your glass up for the working woman/When you gotta get shit done, call a working woman!’ Pettis declares, stretching the lyrics out like chewing gum. It’s a statement of purpose and a great way to kick off the album. “Landon”, which follows “Working Woman”, is just as amazing (if totally different). The song is a beautiful tribute to Pettis’ friend Landon Beatty, who is gay — not an easy thing to be in Alabama, no doubt. ‘You drove yourself to church every Sunday/We swore we’d make it out of this town someday’, she sings. ‘There ain’t no hell much worse than the one I put you through’. Grace Pettis apparently wrote this song as a way to make amends for shunning Beatty when they were kids. It’s fitting that the Indigo Girls add backing vocals to this moving song. While the rest of Working Woman may not be quite up to the level of those first two tracks, it’s still some of the best Alt Country music you’re likely to hear in 2021. Get your glass up for Grace Pettis. (by Dave Steinfeld)
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John Batdorf (from the album An Extraordinary Ordinary Life available on Batmac Music)
Folk music and John Batdorf are a natural match. John’s voice rings like a bell, clear and strong, the perfect marriage for chiming guitar strings and the inspirational optimism of his words. The recent E.P., An Extraordinary Ordinary Life, is touched with the same charisma and chords that have carried John Batdorf along over five decades of performing and recording. Care triumphs over mere curiosity when John Batdorf open An Extraordinary Ordinary Life with “I Wanna Know”.
The opening of “Choose to Receive” is a hushed confidence before John Batdorf takes the track from a whisper to a scream as he leads a charge towards live to your fullest. Happiness flies like the fiddle riffs in “Tone Deaf and Two Left Feet” for the singing/dancing couple in the storyline as a Folk Rock rhythm drives “She’s So Lonely”. An Extraordinary Ordinary Life stocks its title track with inspiration as John Batdorf leads a charge, The Folk minstrel pied piper as life coach, championing each and every step we take away from our comfort zones.
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The Steel Woods (from the album All of Your Stones available on Woods Music) (by Bryant Liggett)
They’re a Country Rock band leaning heavy on the Rock. Nashville’s The Steel Woods let power chords introduce almost half of the tracks on their latest All of Your Stones, a record that dabbles in hard-edged Country Blues and Southern Rock, cooking grit in every song, even the cuts that leave lower the volume and guitar attack. The Steel Woods find a comfort zone in noise: “Out Of The Blue,” “You’re Cold”, “I Need You”, and “Aiming For You” all charging out of the gate with a big guitar punch before quickly pulling back to reveal solid Country Rock roots. This is a band that has volume in their back-pocket yet they don’t use it as their singular weapon. The Steel Woods know how to craft a song that lives within the Rock band realm.
When The Steel Woods slow things down the reveal is a softer Folk side that carries just as much aggression. “You Never Came Home” begins as a piano ballad before the band jumps in making walls of rhythm to back the dramatic vocals. Album closer in the All of Your Stones title track is a heavy, radio friendly cut with punchy Southern Rock guitar fills with a big Rock ending. Country Pop or traditional Country music All of Your Stones is not. Enough twang lives within the walls of Rock to label The Steel Woods another band that will keep the Classic Country fire kindled. (by Bryant Liggett)
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Katie Jo (from the album Pawn Shop Queen available from Fossil Water Records)
Country music AM Gold spins for Katie Jo in the title track to Pawn Shop Queen, the tale quietly setting the scene before the chorus hits as a shout out singalong. Katie Jo pens Pawn Shop Queen with old school charm in her songs, putting the country part back in Country music with stories from country living and a couple of chords. The rhythm rumbles and the guitars reverb as Katie Jo adds a touch of Cajun spice to the drunken melody lines in “Good Luck Enough” as Pawn Shop Queen jukebox plays a reminder message with “Are You Coming Home Tonight”, kicks up dance floor sawdust with the slow shuffle of “I Know I’m a Fool” and picking up the pace with a Rock’n’Roll Country beat for “Timber”.
The dark heart of Country music dances across Pawn Shop Queen when Katie Jo addresses themes of personal struggles of infertility and abortion, putting taboo topics in polite conversations about religion, depression, and infidelity. Opening Pawn Shop Queen on a trot with “How Soon”, Katie Jo closes out the album with the hushed whisper inspiration of “Little Bird”. With “Bad Religion” coursing through her veins Katie Jo is sure that being saved is a distant goal while Classic Country is the soundtrack as she wonders “I Don’t Know Where Your Hearts Been”,
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Jason Charles Miller (from the E.P. From the Wreckage, Pt. 1 available on Haunted Hill Music)
Gravity and the march of time are getting to Jason Charles Miller in “Losing My Way” as he crawls up life’s ladder rung by rung, an Outlaw Country band on his back urging him on with power chords and a hammering beat. White-knuckling life is the in-your-face theme on From the Wreckage, Pt. 1, the latest release from Jason Charles Miller. An echoey beat slowly rides underneath the staticky voice that bids welcome on first cut, “Expiration Day”, as frenetic guitar strums wrap around the warnings of “You’re About To”.
Prior to reciting his resume, Jason Charles Miller pounds the pulpit with a mighty Rock’n’Roll beat preaching that it is “Better Late Than Never”, adding to his qualifications with “Reckless”. Living a tender moment in dreamscape melodies, Jason Charles Miller covers Badfinger’s “Day by Day”, turning the mood somber when dark clouds of sonics hover over “Never Turning Back (Vocal Version)” as it closes out From the Wreckage, Pt. 1.
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Carsie Blanton (from the album Love & Rage available on ) (by Bryant Liggett)
The music and the fan come first for Carsie Blanton. The New Orleans-based singer/songwriter has dropped another record, musically accessible to everyone. That’s the Punk Rock way. Her latest in Love & Rage covers some ground, as Carsie Banton dips into 80’s inspired New Wave to New Orleans touched Blues, genres mixing and living right within a DIY mindset. “Party at the End of the World” opens the record with a Rootsy groove, Blanton’s vocals lazy, sultry, and smooth. “Down in the Streets” has a 60s Pop vibe with “Be Good”, her homage to Dr. King, will inspire a cool hand-snap to keep the rhythm, Carsie Blanton’s vocals loaded with a Lounge-heavy feel. It’s a cut that’s hip and cool.
“Shit List” is both protest song and anthem, calling out the small minds, the people who ‘want a medal just for being a white boy’. Along with its message, Carise Blanton sings over a bouncy blast of Punk Pop. She dips into electronic music with “Be So Bad” and closes exploring Pop Gospel in “Ain’t No Sin”. Carsie Blanton paints with broad strokes that cover the big Roots and Rock canvas, and she does so with loads of color and detail. Love & Rage is both spunky and serious, a record that’s as smart as it is fun.
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Kasey Anderson – Interview (albums Let the Bloody Moon Rise and Wednesday Night ‘Round Nine available on Nervous Kid Records) (by Joe Burcaw)
As I have gotten older, I have noticed my musical scope becoming somewhat diminished, simply due to the fact terrestrial radio is now a contrived and formatted corporate service. Nowadays, DJ’s have less power and very minimal leverage in what they can or cannot spin on their programs. I miss the days of listening to New England stations such as WBCN, WFNX and WBRU to get my dose of new up and coming artists breaking onto the scene. I was fortunate enough to catch the likes of Radiohead, The Cranberries, Jeff Buckley, and Belly before they went mainstream and I owe that all to college and independent radio for being cutting edge enough in taking chances. Fast forward to present day and I find myself relying more on YouTube feeds and social media posts to get information on newer bands and artists, which in all honesty is very few. When I was assigned the task of interviewing Kasey Anderson, I thought to myself, Kasey who? My ignorance of Kasey’s music (and unorthodox back story) forced me to jump down the rabbit hole and research this guy’s catalogue. I found myself digging and digging until an hour became two-days-worth of listening and watching solo and full band performances from the past ten years. All I can say is holy cow, and why is he not a household name within the industry, seriously? After wrapping up our interview I reflected on how similar our tastes in music are, and how we both have led musical lives where taking a judicious political stance isn’t always going to be accepted by the masses but yet we plow through with the message because the fire inside our bellies forces us into taking action as opposed to sitting idle. I was very intrigued by Kasey’s thought process, and ability to turn a negative situation into a positive experience where growth, compassion, and self-awareness come into play as an on-going theme and asset to his spiritual journey. Kasey Anderson is a consummate citizen who wears his heart on his sleeve, and who writes well-crafted songs of empowerment and conviction that could challenge Springsteen & Dylan. Make sure you show some love.
JOE: Hi Kasey, how have you been holding up hunkering down under the pandemic this past year. Has it helped getting the creative juices flowing?
KASEY: Well, the first thing is my wife and I had a baby in November of 2020.
JOE: Congrats to you, I have 14-month-old too.
KASEY: Ohh, awesome. Our baby is 5 months old. We spent the entire 2020 getting ready and then having the kid. Her name is Wynonna and beautiful, man. The silver-lining during all of this is both of us being able to work from home and being around our little girl 24/7. You know, that may have not have been the case if this wasn’t happening. Kate's a special ed teacher, so she would have probably been back at school after three months and I would have had to really adjust my work schedule. We haven't had to do that and we both have been working from
home, we’re both around the baby all the time and that's been really cool.
JOE: It’s a blessing and a curse all wrapped up together.
KASEY: Indeed, but creatively we were making a record, we were actually mixing a record when things started to shut down. Then I had time to sit with those songs and just start to think, well this doesn't sound done to me so I started to kind of pick them apart and put them back together and bring in other people to play extra stuff on them. A blessing and a curse of the pandemic is everyone being home, so I started to ask people who I wouldn't have been able to ask to come play on a session. It significantly delayed the release of what would have
been a new record. Then ‘The Dangerous Ones’ situation happened.
JOE: So, the album you were working on was To the Places We Live?
KASEY: Yeah, the album we were working on was To the Places We Live.
JOE: Should I assume you guys were transferring files to each other remotely since everybody was most likely living in different areas during lockdown, or were you able to get together in person?
KASEY: Well, we did some basic tracks live before the lock down began. We were getting ready to mix and then the pandemic hit, and then I started to pick it apart and be like, maybe I want to add a guitar here, maybe there's a string part here, or a piano part that we can add here. I reached out to people in other parts of the country who wouldn't have been able to come into the sessions that we did in Portland. Then “The Dangerous Ones” thing happened and the Eleven Films video went viral and people suddenly knew who I was again or for the first time. So, I had this record that was kind of in a holding pattern while the song was blowing up getting bigger numbers than the Counting Crows cover of my song years ago. Then I started to listen to the Let the Bloody Moon Rise’ record. I had always wanted it to come out and really regretted getting locked up just when it was ready to come out. Mysteriously this sort of bootleg version of it wound up on streaming services.
JOE: Somebody leaked it without your knowledge?
KASEY: Well, I was in prison, and August of 2014 someone sent me a message saying the record came out. Then someone from the band sent me a message saying the record is now on Spotify, Apple Music, and all of these other services. We think a fan from the Kickstarter campaign got hold of rough mixes (they won as a tier reward) and ended up leaking it online. A lot of people felt I was a rip-off artist having hard feelings about why I went to prison and left the campaign unfinished. So, the album wound up on all of these streaming services. When I got out I contacted different digital distributors and couldn't get to the bottom of it and couldn't get it pulled off. Then I just sort of resigned myself, okay this record is just gonna come out as is, which is really a bummer. But with “The Dangerous Ones” thing all these new ears sort of connected to my music. I thought, well this is a chance for me to set the record straight (and pardon the pun) getting that album out the way that we wanted it to sound sequenced properly with final mixes and masters. The version that was originally out there is 17 rough mixes of songs that I didn't want released without the finished packaging. I thought to myself, I really want to do right by this band and I am really proud of this album. I want to have it out in the way that it was intended to be out. Now there are people who were interested in my records that weren't before. I thought Let the Bloody Moon Rise feels like a new record, and it's a thing I can release in a time when I might not tour behind it. I now have it documented the way I want releasing it without the pressure of rallying the band to go do a run of shows behind it. It can just live the way we wanted it to live in the world and if something more comes up, well that's great too.
JOE: Will this be considered a ‘Kasey Anderson and The Honkies’ album, or strictly a solo effort?
KASEY: It'll be Kasey Anderson, the streaming classifications are so weird. It's a ‘Kasey Anderson and The Honkies’ record, but because of the weird way Spotify group stuff, I wanted it to show up with my other records. I want to kind of consolidate my records into one place. So, this is classified technically as ‘Kasey Anderson featuring The Honkies’.
JOE: Okay got it! Will this coincide with a live album Wednesday Night ‘Round Nine?
JOE: I listened to a lot of tracks off that and man do they sound tight. Were these performances taken from separate shows or was this from one gig from top to bottom you performed with the band? They sound like mixes taken straight off the board, yes?
KASEY: They are yeah, that's all one gig. That came about when I started to go back through the Let the Bloody Moon Rise stuff. I'm going back through this Honkies stuff and at one point we had a lot of shows that were useable. I know a lot of people recorded us, so if anybody has any live recordings I'd love to hear them! I am really enjoying listening to this stuff. A fan sent me a whole Dropbox folder full of stuff during that show, which is from Seattle early 2012 at The Troubadour. I had forgotten and had no memory of that show whatsoever. I didn't have it on any hard drive or anything like that, so I listened to it and came away saying holy shit that's really good! This sounds really great, and then I thought let’s move forward with Let the Bloody Moon Rise. That show is such a great document of what that band was like live and why people responded the way they did when seeing us open for the Counting Crows. I’m in a position where I'm not beholden to a label, I'm kind of the boss of my own operation. So, we will just put them out as companion pieces. I'll press a small amount on vinyl for each and I'll put them both on streaming services. Now that this era of my career is documented I feel like I've done right by the band and the work we did. I have a really nice little document of what that band was and what it meant to me.
JOE: You're talking a lot in the past tense, are there no future plans for the band to go out once things normalize? What is your situation going to be like if and when you decide going out on the road?
KASEY: When things normalize, I will tour for sure. I know a lot of the guys in that band were busy to begin with, so we’ll see what happens. The band consisted of me, Andrew McKeag on guitar, Mike Musburger on drums, who is in The Posies, Eric Corson who was in Perfume Genius, the keyboard player is this guy named Ty Bailie, who ended up in Katy Perry's band. So, trying to wrangle everybody's schedules to do a full tour will be difficult. But, you know, Andrew McKeag played on To the Places We Live. We never got a real chance to take a lot of these songs out because I got into trouble. I know McKeag wants to gig, we all miss playing out. I have a full-time job that I love very much, but I would also like to get out there performing. My wife and I were listening to the record last night. Getting ready to release this project really got me excited about playing with the band again in a way that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I very much love the record that came out in 2018, and I was really excited about ‘To the Places We Live’, which is a solo record but there’s still a band feel on it. Listening to The Honkies stuff made me think about how fun it is to just play guitar and sing in a band. Especially that band with those players was just so much fun. Like you said, that live Troubadour show is just incredible, that was a good fucking band!
JOE: That was my first thought when I was listening to the tracks, oh my goodness these guys are so super tight as a unit. I'm a musician too and really appreciate a live band that is super in sync with each other. Let's face it man, this day and age we’re stuck having to hear Katy Perry and Taylor Swift (no disrespect because they both are great at what they do) who are in their own right ‘entertainers’, you know what I mean? You don't hear a lot of rock and roll being pushed right now, so when I hear what you guys are doing it moves me. I know your music isn’t technically rock and roll, but it has an Americana roots feel that swings hard. Let’s talk about the lead track “Some Depression”. When I closed my eyes visions of Levon Helm and The Band sprung up, which instantaneously gave me goosebumps. That was the vibe I felt when listening to this song. I know everybody has their opinion, but that is truly how I felt and just gravitated to this one. I think there's a slide part at the beginning, yes?
KASEY: Yeah, that’s Jeff Fielder (who is on a lot of the record) who plays with Amy Ray and is a really good player.
JOE: I noticed that you surround yourself with great musicians, and when you do that, it just uplifts your game and raises the bar. I have to confess, I jumped down the rabbit hole checking out your music on YouTube. I was down there for hours on end and found some really great stuff. I saw a lot of sessions that you did at City Winery NYC and something else with Star Anna at The Brite sessions? You have strong songs that whether they're performed all electric or just on an acoustic the point is well made and gets across to the listener, a true testament to great craftsmanship. Getting back to “The Dangerous Ones”. I'm not one of those people who normally pays attention to lyrics but the lyrical content on this one really hits home. I was wondering if you could expound on your thought process and what exactly went into creating these words? I know it's kind of obvious, but what was the underlying message you were trying to convey?
KASEY: Well yeah, I wrote that after the 2016 election but wrote it as a response to the election. My wife and I live in Portland which is one of those little self-insulated liberal enclaves here on the west coast that people either love or loathe. We had a lot of conversations with a lot of our friends about the protests. They were behaving and speaking as though the problems in this country only started in 2016. There was only one bad guy and he's the bad guy. That song is just trying to draw people's attention to this situation. The 2016 election hurt a lot of us very deeply and upset a lot of us very deeply, but it didn’t start then. It's not just one side of the aisle that has made this country such an inequitable place for people, and it's really easy for those of us who are white. Northwest Portland is mostly white, I'm walking around outside talking to you right now and I only see white people. I think that it's really easy for people like some of our friends in Portland to kind of double down on this rhetoric that a lot of these problems didn't exist before this particular racist was elected. It’s like man, I would really recommend you read some history, and alternative histories, that may not be easily accessible through academia. Dig into what the experience has been in this country for people of color, then we can start to talk about the systemic problems and how to solve them. I don't want to go too deep into this, but I'm relieved by the results of the 2020 election. I think we have seen that so far systemically, and in terms of the legislation in this country not a ton has changed. There's a less overtly racist voice behind the microphone, but from a policy standpoint not a whole lot has changed yet.
JOE: There are (and have always been) a lot of false promises thrown at the people and I find the two-party system ineffective and divisive. It has gotten to the point where it’s either, you’re with us or you're the enemy. The orange faced chump created a serious divide amongst Americans and that really saddens me. The founding forefathers created our legislation for the sole purpose of working together for the people, by the people, and not by the government. Biden is just the lesser of two evils, but that is a whole other conversation.
KASEY: Absolutely, and the thing that I’ve always said to friends and people who I'm not as friendly with, when these conversations have come up it’s like, you have to understand at the end of the day these people are supposed to work for us, right? These elected officials are supposed to work for us but in reality, they all work for the same company, right? They all work under this capitalist structure and essentially their goals are all the same. Some of them are more violent and belligerent about how they attain those goals, but at the end of the day Biden's goal is not that different from Trump’s. It's up to us to hold those people accountable and not just be ruled out. Thank god Trump didn't win the election. The works not done and the work hasn't even really started yet until we start to hold people accountable.
JOE: Exactly, they're all sleeping in the same bed at the end of the day. Unfortunately, not enough people are aware of what is going on and as a result have blinders on. Anyway, on a separate note let us get back to the music. All right, let's get back onto “The Dangerous Ones”. You had mentioned the political short film by Eleven Films grabbing it. How did that happen, and was that another instance where you had no idea of what was going on?
KASEY: Eleven Films are essentially two people, James and Tiffany who live here in Portland. They saw me play that song on a local news program or lifestyle program in 2019 and loved it and reached out to me through Twitter saying they loved the song, and that they make these little films and would love to use it sometime. I saw some of their work and said yeah, if you want to use the song let me know and I'll get you an acoustic version of it. Ehud Lazin, who does the City Winery series, said he had a really beautiful acoustic version that he recorded and I can talk to him about getting the file. James and Tiffany said they wanted to make their own video and use my song in it. I said sure and sent them the file. I didn't know the video was going to be called “The Dangerous Ones” and that the song was going to be the centerpiece of it. When I found out I thought it was so cool, and then it hit a million views, 5 million views, and then 10 million views. Then people started to notice and I had a bunch more Twitter followers than I'd had in a very long time. People were sending me notes and it was just a really cool organic thing that stemmed from two people in the city where I live saying they wanted to use my song to make a video and me saying yeah, that was great and it became its own little thing. I hope people really listen to the song and use it to spur action beyond voting in 2020 and use it to inform themselves or inspire themselves in whatever way they can to become active in their own communities.
JOE: From a musician's standpoint, do you feel that when this song is stripped down to just the voice and guitar that it gets the point across more than using a full band? Or, does it not matter whether or not you use the band?
KASEY: It seems like people responded in a way to the solo performance differently than they did to the band performance and I think that's an arrangement thing. I mean, the solo performance is a little more somber and it comes from a place of desperation where we have to do something now. The band performance is like more of a rallying cry, it's a little more forceful and a call to action. I just think that at the time when that video came out people were feeling a little more sorrow and anxious about the future of the country, and so that resonated with them in a different way. I always love having a band and I love playing solo, and delivering the songs that way too. In those settings where you have an audience that's really listening, that's the best way to get your point across, but I love rock and roll and love playing with the band. The full band version to me is the one that if I want to perform that song…. I love hearing a backbeat and the electric guitar. But your question was in terms of how to best convey the message, I always think if you’re on stage alone with an audience truly listening, that's when the material is really going to hit home the hardest.
JOE: You may roll your eyes with this observation, but I hear Shawn Mullins, The Faces, and early Replacements in your song writing. Even a bit of Nebraska-era Springsteen with the storytelling approach. Would you agree or disagree with this?
KASEY: No, not at all, those are all artists and bands that I listen to and love. Dylan I love very much, Springsteen I love, and The Small Faces are one of my favorite bands and really anything that Ronnie Lane touched during the era of Rod Stewart. Even post Faces like those first couple of Stewart's solo records were so good.
JOE: Rod still had all of those guys backing him on his early solo material.
KASEY: Yeah yeah right, it was basically Faces records minus a couple people.
JOE: When they recorded ‘Maggie May’ Ronnie Wood was playing bass and if you listen closely, you can hear clams all over the place in the performance. He admitted being drunk as a skunk but they kept the take because of the looseness and overall feel was what they were looking for.
KASEY: That has always been my approach in the studio, I would rather have a take that really captures a performance than a take that is error free. There's been wrong bass notes and wrong chords all over Stones records. Talking about Ronnie Wood’s bass clams, ‘Won't Get Fooled Again’ has that very famous fuckup in the beginning, all of that stuff has such personality to it. It's a reminder that it's just people in a room playing music and that's what appeals to people listening to music. I don't need to listen to a perfect recording. I just watched this You Am I video, they’re a band from Australia. That's one of my favorite bands and ‘Older Guys' on Let the Bloody Moon Rise is a You Am I song that we covered. I just released the single ‘Heavy Heart’, which is also a You Am I song. They're to me a natural extension of The Replacements, but didn't really catch on in the States. But if anybody loves The Replacements, I always send them straight to a You Am I record. They have a new record coming out in May and I just watched this live thing of theirs. At the end Tim Rogers (who is the singer and songwriter) says, ‘I'm sorry we made some mistakes tonight, but it's all done out of love and enthusiasm’. I was like, fuck yeah, man that's how those mistakes happen. They don't happen because we're not professionals, they were made because we're excited, they happen because people are so in the moment that they lose track of a song. It's not like Ronnie Wood doesn’t know how to play bass, he’s just in the moment.
JOE: Now everything is so locked into a grid and it can get very sterile.
KASEY: That's how we recorded Let the Bloody Moon Rise, all of us in the same room, all of us live with no click track. If we brought someone in to do an overdub, they would ask what the tempo is, and no one would know. You just gotta hang with the band, and it's the same for To the Places We Lived. We did the basic tracks live everybody in the same room, and when I would send them out to people who were home during the pandemic they would be like, is there a tempo or click to the grid? I would just say no, you have to play to the band.
JOE: It’s not natural at all. I get it, everybody these days records and mixes in the box. Come on now, show some love for analog two-inch tapes running on a Studer tape machine!
KASEY: The thing about tape machines and those boards is that they limit the amount of tracks people can use, right? If you have a 16-track recording or 24-track recording those are the amount of tracks you can have. You have to be thoughtful about the way that you make the art. You can't just say I'm going throw everything on there and then pick it apart bit by bit.
JOE: I feel sorry for the kids coming up now. You and I are from the same generation since we’re in our 40’s, so you will understand this next comment. What happened to kids getting into their parents garage or basement cranking up the guitars and bashing on the drums completely sucking yet learning the basics of band etiquette 101?
KASEY: Rock and Roll is intended to be done with a group of people in a room, or a group of people on stage making mistakes.
JOE: Right, being human. Speaking of humans, Mike McCready from Pearl Jam, and Dave Immergluck from The Counting Crows have cameos. How did you get those guys involved, and where exactly were they sprinkled on top of the music you recorded?
KASEY: Immergluck played some mandolin and he played some acoustic guitar and did a couple other things on a few tracks. I know him from The Counting Crows guys from when they covered my song ‘Like Teenage Gravity’ on their record 'Underwater Sunshine’. So I already had a relationship with the Crows guys, and Immergluck is such a good player who can play anything. He's so smart and intuitive and really listens as a player. When we were starting, we had the basics and started to fill stuff in. I thought, well I’ll just send him the files because he was in LA at the time and had access to a studio. The beautiful thing about playing in The Honkies with those guys (as you mentioned) I've tried to surround myself with really good players who don't need a lot of direction. I didn't have to map out for him how to play a part, I just sent him the track and said, this would be cool to have mandolin on andacoustic guitar here, or whatever. McCready is very close friends with Ty Bailey who played keys in The Honkies and we were recording at Avast Studios in Seattle and Mike dropped by the studio to say hi to Ty and then kind of pokes his head into the session which for me, you and I are from the same generation and I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where Pearl Jam is a big deal to me, still to this day. I have seen that band 20 times and they’re a real big deal to me and are also really accessible in the Seattle community, so I had seen Mike and Stone around but didn’t know them, and when Mike walked into the session I was just like, holy shit that's Mike McCready, that's the guy who played the solo on “Alive”.
JOE: Bow down to thy master…..
KASEY: Yeah, for sure. So a couple days went by and we were doing some last minute overdubs and Ty said, Hey, I'm gonna ask Mike if he wants to come play on a song and I was like, Mike McCready? Yeah, he really liked what he heard and I think he'd like to come play on a song and I was like, he can play on whatever he wants. We had a song at the end called ‘The Lucky Ones’ and it was a really droney thing that needed some sort of guitar atmosphere. Mike came in, we ran the song down for him and I said it needs dolphin sounds, can you do dolphin sounds? He replied, yeah man I can do that, and so he just did a couple of passes of this really beautiful atmospheric guitar piece that's all the way through the song and then walked out. I treated him like a normal human being but in my head the entire time I'm like, that's fucking Mike McCready, that's fucking Mike McCready playing guitar on my song. So, all of those guys in The Honkies had been around a while, and because they had been in bands that were really popular, they were all sort of dug into Seattle in the Northwest music scene. This group of people embraced me you know, and brought their friends into the projects and really advocated speaking highly of my songwriting. People like Duff McKagan from Guns ‘N Roses wrote this really sweet piece in the Seattle weekly at one point about how he thought I was a genius songwriter and would have never heard my records if it weren't for the guys in The Honkies. Having Duff McKagan think I am a genius was surreal to me and so I thought these guys in this band were so generous to me and the record didn't even come out the right way. Not only did I end up going to treatment and then go into prison, they had to carry around wondering about how much of my life that they had access to was the actual truth. Apart from the personal relationships we had made this really good record somebody leaked onto streaming services and it never got a chance to come out the way it should have been released. I've made a lot of personal amends in my life and want to try and continue making living amends. I want to set the record straight again, that's a really terrible pun but it is what it is and I wish get this out in the way it was intended to be honoring the work that we did and honoring the relationships that I had in that band.
JOE: May I ask you a question about being incarcerated?
JOE: Did you find when getting released there was a shift in consciousness as far as how you approached your personal relationships, your musical relationships, and how you treated yourself? Was there a lot of reflection, and did you make it a point that when getting out to make changes so that good things begin happening in your life?
KASEY: I did, I started that a year before because the justice system moves slowly. I had been to treatment and had been in recovery for 14 months before I finally went to prison. So, I sort of started trying to change the trajectory of my life and make direct amends to people and make living amends. But absolutely, when I came out of prison my intention was ‘I'm going to live the rest of my life living through the amends’. Not only am I never going to do those things I did before, I'm gonna work actively in the opposite direction of that which is why I work full time now at a nonprofit center for people in recovery from substance and mental health disorders. I speak at colleges about my experience with mental illness and substance abuse disorder and give my time and my money wherever and whenever I can. I believe in trying to lead as close to the opposite of the life I led before. Living at the principles of recovery in the way that I understand my own recovery. I've been out of prison for six years and in that time, I have gotten married, I have started this project, I've worked for two years at the Awana Club, we have a baby, my life is so much different and better than it was, and I hope that anyone who's come into contact with me not only sees that, but that I’ve affected their life in some way. So definitely, I spent two years in prison thinking that probably my life as a musician and public performer was over, and then thinking, well that's fine and how am I going to live the best life that I can live? If I can't make an impact from the stage any more than how do I make an impact on the lives of other people in a different way? I've been really fortunate that I have been able to do both.
JOE: It's very noble of you and I commend you for turning your life around by making the necessary changes required. It’s karma and I feel like what you put out to the universe is going to come back to you and stare you right in the face. Switching gears now because I know we need to wrap up soon. Real quick, I know you had another band called Hawks and Doves, correct? Was that a band in the true sense or was this a solo project?
KASEY: It was a band, and the record came out when I got out of prison. It was a decision on my behalf to release the album under the name Hawks and Doves because I was very worried that someone who I had harmed financially due to my crime would see a Kasey Anderson album being reviewed by someone and have to revisit the trauma of being financially victimized by me, or a person who I may have had a relationship with and caused emotional trauma to. I didn’t want people to see that and be triggered by it, and I just didn't want my name to be out in front of things. The music industry has been relatively forgiving to me, but the music industry is a relatively forgiving industry to begin with. I don't want people to have to be confronted with my name if they don't have to be and so we put it out as Hawks and Doves. People said nice things about it, Rolling Stone magazine wrote about it and then “The Dangerous Ones” thing happened. I thought, okay it has been almost 10 years since I committed my crime, I’ve been out of prison and I feel like I have made amends to people. If someone doesn't want to see my name in Rolling Stone, I hope they can understand the work that I've done to rehabilitate myself and I'm going back to putting out records as Kasey Anderson.
JOE: That all makes complete sense. I noticed that Kay Hanley from Letters to Cleo made a cameo?
KASEY: Yes, that is true. She sings the female part on the band version of ‘The Dangerous Ones’. She's a buddy who I've known for geez, almost 10 years. I had the song and was like hey, we've been friends all this time and we have never done anything musical together. Do you want to sing on this? She was into it and so I sent her the song.
JOE: I lived in Boston forever, and used to go see Letters To Cleo all the time back in the mid 90’s when they were hot and at the top of their game.
KASEY: A great indie band. I believe Kay was the voice of Josie from Josie and the Pussycats, and I think it is that film's 20th anniversary. So, she's had a little bit of a resurgence herself with people celebrating that film, it was kind of a Pop culture moment in Pop culture history. Kate and I are still in touch and that's another thing, I have most of my friends before I got locked up and they have remained my friends afterwards. There are some relationships that were damaged by me and have taken a long time to repair. But for the most part folks have been so forgiving and I think to your point, they've been forgiving because I didn't come out of prison full of ego and hubris. I came out of prison as a person who was very remorseful about the things that I committed and have tried to practice humility in my day-to-day life. I think that that comes across to people.
JOE: Absolutely, people pick up on that instantaneously so good for you and I am glad you were able to turn things around. Listen Kasey, it's been an absolute pleasure speaking with you and thank you for your time and for a great interview. Before we sign off, please let the people know how they can reach you and your music through all of your social media handles. Give us a way to get in touch.
KASEY: My website is www.kaseyandersonmusic.com, Bandcamp is KaseyAnderson.bandcamp.com. My Twitter and Instagram handles are the same, they are @leasdef, which is a little play on words of my favorite MC Mos Def, and @leasdef on Twitter and Instagram.
JOE: Okay, and then the album that you're currently working on, when do you foresee that being dropped?
KASEY: To the Places We Live will hopefully be out when I can put some people together and get in a van and play some shows behind it. So, I'm hoping for fall, and if not fall then early next year so that we can do a spring tour behind it.
JOE: Are you looking at West Coast only?
KASEY: No, I want to hit the places that have been good to me. I did a little solo tour after the Hawks and Doves record came out and was really pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who came out to support me. Places like New York, Nashville & Chicago have always been good to me. I'll try and hit all the all of the spots where I know there are people who want to listen. I do think the pandemic has made people reconsider, and also miss live music. I hope that if people miss it as much as they say they do then they're going to be able to understand that sometimes you have to drive 25 minutes to go see a show, right? You know, artists can't play every single market that we want to and we would love to come play in everybody's backyard but sometimes that's not logistically possible. I know that if somebody is coming through and they're coming to Seattle and not Portland I'm driving to see them.
JOE: You have to make the trip because these venues are going to eventually start closing down. So, yeah, you're right you have to step out of your comfort zone and travel a bit out of the way. Anyway, thank you again for everything. It's been a pleasure meeting you and I hope at some point if you make it to the New England area we can meet up.
KASEY: Thanks for everything Joe and talk soon.
Listen and buy Let the Bloody Moon Rise from AMAZON
Listen and buy Wednesday Night Around Nine from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Kasey Anderson website
Knomad Spock (from the album Winter of Discontent available on Hinterland Creative) (by Chris Wheatley)
Knomad Spock is an artist with an intriguing background. A mixed-race British-Somali poet, rapper, and contemporary Folk singer/songwriter, Spock, in his own words, is rooted as much in the Northern (British) working-class as in the Somali nomadic traditions of his inheritance. Born and raised in Hull, a historic port city which dates back to the 12th century, a literal world away from the Horn of Africa, Spock channels his unique perspective into his music. On his recent release, Winter of Discontent (that famous quote from Shakespeare's Richard III) Spock handles guitar and vocals, with Jamie Smith credited on guitar, mandolin, autoharp, bass and percussion.
Another literary reference marks the start of this set in the form of “Papillon” (the classic novel by Henri Charrière). It's a beautiful track, which rolls out on a wave of slow, slow drums, washes of cymbals and scattered guitar chords, over which Knomad Spock declaims in an arresting manner. His voice is a curious and compelling mix of strength and vulnerability. ‘Butterfly, butterfly, tonight you have a new name...waking up and wishing you could sleep again’. Lyrically, Knomad Spock is masterful, weaving a poetic spell of fascinating images and insights. Follower “Gift” picks up the pace, with a 60s psychedelic feel. Bright fuzzy edges flare around breezy hand-percussion, mandolin vibrato and acoustic strumming. There's a hazy, sunshine feel to this track, which lilts and flutters like a flower in the wind.
“Egypt,” by contrast, bounces and rocks, light on its feet and packing a punch. Slow chords and deep undertones form a perfect foil for skittering beats and crashing drums. Midway through, the song blossoms out into an astonishing cloud of clattering, colourful sounds before settling back into its stride. Here is the strength of Winter of Discontent – you never know what is coming next, yet it always feels as if it were destined to be. From shudders of free Jazz and synth lines pulsinga to smooth-as-molasses folk song, the disparate parts fit together like a jigsaw. ‘Way out the window dusk, fell out and landed first’ sings Spock on “Spirit Level” as a guitar strums slowly and ghostly echoes ring out. Then comes multi-tracked, wordless voice-percussion/melody. In lesser hands this could have been trite and gimmicky. Here, it is a highly affecting delight.
Back to more soft washes on “Know”. Scattering burbles of synth bubble subtly under bowed strings, off-kilter chords, and chimes of bright guitar. It's a wonderful, mix-and-match composition, full of invention. Again, there are many elements combined here, stretching in all directions, vying for your attention as Knomad Spock softly sings. With so much to say for itself, and so much to discover, Winter of Discontent is an album you will want to explore again and again. Surely that is the highest compliment I could confer. ‘Chemical, miracle, turn away...’ (by Chris Wheatley)
Listen and buy the music of Knomad Spock from AMAZON
For more information, head to the Knomad Spock website
Ted Russell Kamp (from the album Solitaire available on PoMo records) (by Brian Rock)
Ted Russell Kamp’s 13th album, Solitaire, finds him in a contemplative mood as he copes with the isolation of Covid lockdowns. Alone in his home studio, he adopts a more Folk/Singer-Songwriter approach to his music. Gone are the electric guitar leads and horn sections and layered musical arrangements. The few backing vocals and pedal steel arrangements were recorded by friends in distant studios and added in post-production. The result is Kamp’s most intimate album to date.
“Birds That Sing at Dawn” is a good representation of the tone and style of this album. Mellow and melancholy, Ted Russell Kamp contemplates a lost love. Remembering the good times of the past while brooding alone, he realizes ‘it took two of us to find love, and two to make love grow. But it just takes one to lose love, only one to let it go’. An acoustic guitar and faint, haunting Hammond organ chords in the background help convey the mood as Kamp continues to grapple with the ghost of lost love all night long, until he finally hears the birds that sing at dawn. Loneliness and isolation continue to be the focus on Solitaire with “The Hardest Road to Find” and “Only a Broken Heart”. The last of which utilizes an electric bass as lead instrument; which combined with percussive finger snaps lightens the mood of the song and alleviates the somberness of the lyrics.
Kamp employs the same bass and finger snap technique to convey a rare bit of optimism in “As Far as the Eye Can See”. With its bouncy bass line, Kamp sings, ’If I could find the deeper meaning, I’d let it wash right over me. Then I could heal the pain you’re feeling, and be the answer you know you need’. Ted Russell Kamp’s raspy baritone and conversational delivery make these songs perfectly suited for rainy days or dark winter nights by the fire. His voice and music reflect that mood when you sometimes just want to be alone.
The exceptions to that are his two forays into Country. “You Can Go to Hell, I’m Going to Texas” is a lilting Country song featuring steel guitar and piano that finds Kamp channeling his inner Davy Crockett. “Lightning Strikes Twice” is even more up-tempo. Combining Bluegrass with Outlaw Country, he evokes shades of “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way”. Over strident banjo picking, Ted Russell Kamp sings about the joy of reconnecting with a former lover. In defiance of the odds, he proclaims, ‘I’m gonna stand my ground, let the rain pour down; ‘cause lightning’s striking twice’. Like many musicians sucker punched by Covid, Ted Russell Kamp has been forced to make adjustments. Without the assistance of a full band he has turned inward to develop his songwriting. Working through his personal ‘blue period’, he has sharpened his skills at conveying mood and evoking emotion; and has delivered a personal album that will resonate with others who find themselves playing a similar game of emotional Solitaire. (by Brian Rock)
Listen and buy the music of Ted Russell Kamp from AMAZON
For more information, head to the Ted Russell Kamp website