Grand Ole Echo
"THE STONED, STEELY SOUNDS OF '70S COUNTRY MUSIC LIVE ON IN ECHO PARK — ON SUNDAY AFTERNOONS, AT LEAST. BREEZY AND BOOZY VIBES ABOUND AT THE ECHO EVERY SUNDAY AFTERNOON FROM SPRING TO FALL AT GRAND OLE ECHO, AN OPEN-ENDED COUNTRY SHOWCASE THAT FEATURES ALL MANNER OF BUZZED OUTLAWS AND COUNTRY-FRIED SONGWRITERS BUT ZEROES IN ON THE HAZY DAYS OF WILLIE AND WAYLON AND RONSTADT. THE PARTY TAKES ADVANTAGE OF BOTH THE ECHO'S MAIN PERFORMANCE SPACE AND ITS SUNNY BACK PATIO, WHERE RAY'S BACK PATIO BBQ SERVES UP SLOW-ROASTED PORK ON A WHITE HAMBURGER BUN FOR $6 A POP. KIDS ARE WELCOME AND RUN FREE WITH JOYOUS ABANDON; HANDSOME YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN LOUNGE AROUND WITH CANS OF BUD; VINTAGE WESTERN SHIRTS AND COWBOY BOOTS HANG FOR SALE ON RACKS BY THE SIDE OF THE STAGE. IT'S THE MUSIC, THOUGH, THAT KEEPS FANS COMING BACK EVERY WEEK, WITH HOT-SHOT LOCAL ACTS SUCH AS COUNTRY-FRIED ROCKER ELIJAH OCEAN AND THE FLAWLESS BLUEGRASS HARMONIES OF DEAR LEMON TREES SHARING THE STAGE WITH TOURING AMERICANA ACTS. CAN'T-MISS SPECIAL TRIBUTES, LIKE THOSE DEDICATED TO MERLE HAGGARD AND TOWNES VAN ZANDT EARLIER THIS YEAR, BRING OUT SCORES OF L.A.'S FINEST ROOTS SINGERS AND MUSICIANS. IF YOU SQUINT HARD ENOUGH, YOU COULD MISTAKE THE WHOLE AFFAIR FOR A NASHVILLE HOUSE PARTY CIRCA 1978".- CHRIS KISSEL , LA WEEKLY
"That's just one example of the type of collaborations in store at the Grand Ole Echo, whose definition of Americana is much more wide-ranging and diverse than its Nashville namesake, booking everything from southern rock to psychedelic alt-country to bluegrass to old fashioned honkytonk." - Jonathan Bernstein, American Songwriter
The Echo Park crowd knock back longnecks and listen to bands that can include (former) local fixture, Mike Stinson,or former members of the Blasters. Members of Wilco, and The Black Crowes have been known to show up and even take the stage.” - Los Angeles Magazine
“Sunday afternoons, put a kick in God’s day with the Grand Ole Echo, a downhome celebration with three live bands plus and old-timey jam and bbq on the back patio.” - The Pasadena Weekly
Jaime Wyatt’s newest release Felony Blues, whose title is a nod to records like David Allan
Coe’s Penitentiary Blues, is largely an autobiographical collection of convict love stories,
prison songs, and honky-tonk laments.
Wyatt is a striking figure with an old soul and a voice like a force of nature. Regardless of
genre, the Los Angeles-based Wyatt is a dynamic performer, who sails naturally between
vintage ‘60s and ‘70s country/rock ’n’ soul anthems and heartfelt country ballads of love
and corruption. Country radio station 95.3 The Bear recently named her, alongside Sturgill
Simpson and Margo Price, as “one of the country artists you may not have heard of, but need
Wyatt got a record deal at the age of 17, with multiple soundtracks and movie placements,
but after a second deal went down the tubes, she developed a drug problem.
She got busted for robbing her dealer and took a plea deal for eight months in jail, a felony
strike, six months of treatment and three years felony probation. “I stayed out of trouble
most the time in jail, by singing songs for people and making them laugh,” says Wyatt.
After she served her term, Wyatt, become enthralled with the music of Merle Haggard and
Johnny Cash - who had similar struggles with the law and substance abuse. She studied
country music and toured in folk and country bands up and down the West Coast.
“I met the hit songwriter John Durrill, who recommended I cover “Misery and Gin,” a song
he wrote for Merle Haggard in 1979. A dear friend and supporter gifted Jaime with a session
at East West Studios in Hollywood, CA, to record with producer, Mike Clink (Guns N’Roses),
and this track closes the record.
“For the rest of the record, I tracked in between constant touring, whenever I had a dime or
a guitar to trade for recording time at my bass player, Drew Allsbrook’s studio in Van
Nuys. I joked about calling the album Nickel and Dimin’ for this reason.”
After completing the record and looking for a label, Wyatt met Forty Below Records head,
producer Eric Corne (John Mayall, Walter Trout). Corne fell in love with the songs and
agreed to remix the record and release via Forty Below Records.
The musicians on the record include top notch Americana and country pickers John
Schreffler Jr and Ted Russell Kamp from Shooter Jennings band; Gabe Witcher of the
Punch Brothers on fiddle; fellow Angelino country songwriter Sam Outlaw (who features
on the duet “Your Loving Saves Me”); and long time friend and drummer Freddy
Bokkenheuser, now the touring drummer for Ryan Adams.
Most songs on Felony Blues are inspired by reckless life choices. “From Outer Space” was
originally written as the title track for her last EP, produced by Mark Howard (Lucinda
Williams, Tom Waits). “After playing the song on tour, a couple different band members
helped to give it a 2-step feel and worked up a lot of harmonies,” explains Wyatt. “It is about
feeling alienated and cast aside by society. And about feeling unable to have a normal
romantic relationship, as a touring musician.”
“Stone Hotel” is the story of how Wyatt was convicted for strong-armed robbery. She sings
about how the LAX courthouse made an example of her, acknowledging that it was a drug
house bust, in the lyrics, “Judge said young lady, you never felt the blues, no not yet. And
that DA called for restitution for a hustler out on bond.”
“When I was researching how to expunge my felony, I got a chance to read the minute
orders on my case from seven years prior,” says Wyatt. “This felony has always been a
source of shame and embarrassment. I hit the streets after jail looking for jobs and no one
would hire me because of my criminal record. I eventually got a job at a bicycle shop but
couldn’t receive a promotion for the same reason. On the bright side, it has prompted me to
tour consistently and work hard to make money on the road.”
The other prison song on the album is “Wasco,” which was inspired by one of Wyatt’s
cellmates in LA County Jail, who was writing a guy up at Wasco State Prison, near
Bakersfield. “The cellmate had never met the guy” says Wyatt, “but they were planning their
wedding via love letters back and forth between correctional facilities.”
“I’m hoping that the theme of the record will raise awareness about the judicial system in
America, since I’ve been branded with a felony, I know first hand how the system will keep
you down. Like the words of Merle Haggard: ‘I paid the debts I owed ‘em, but they’re still
not satisfied.’ Wyatt identifies as a - “branded woman.”
Wyatt grew up on a tiny rural island in the northwest with horses and animals. “I was
heavily influenced by my southern hillbilly grandparents Papa Brown and Nana Lo” says
Wyatt. “My first job was a at horse breeding farm, where I listened to 90s country music on
the radio. Both of my parents were also singers and songwriters in the 80s”
Wyatt spent much of last year on the road, playing clubs and festivals throughout the Pacific
Northwest, Southwest and South, such as Wildwood Revival, Bandit Town, Chinook Fest and
Long Beach Folk Revival Festival. She can frequently be found at the iconic Grand Ole Echo in
her hometown of Los Angeles or playing spontaneous gigs at her favorite vintage clothing
stores. An extensive tour in support of Felony Blues is in the works.
Ben Reddell Band
You may recall Ben Reddell from his place on the bass behind L.A.’s Leslie Stevens & The Badgers cq — he’s the tall, mustachioed longhair who seems like he’d have been equally at home playing with Willie Nelson as with Roky Erickson. But Reddell has a guitar and a band of his own, too, and a voice that comes out as weatherbeaten and world-weary as any classic Texan troubadour. (Hey, Guy Clark? Townes Van Zandt? Is there room for one more to share that bottle of the strong stuff?) If you saw the film Heartworn Highways, and if you laughed and then tried not to cry at all the appropriately hilarious and heartbreaking moments, you’re primed for Ben Reddell’s band. They’ll ready the beer if you’ve got the tears. –Chris Ziegler
The Folks and Company
Katie Jo & the Mijos
Led by songwriter and guitarist Katie Jo Oberthaler, Katie Jo & The Mijos play classic country music fit for the modern era—and often fit for folks who say they don’t like country music at all. A native of Kansas, and currently based in California, Katie Jo brings a Midwestern sensibility to songs that dance in defeat of life’s plainest realities: circumstances might be bad, and probably getting worse, so better to take it in stride and get on with it, then. This isn’t soft-spoken folk melodies nor hard-scrabble outlaw snarls: it’s lyrical vulnerability mixed with a vivacious live energy. It’s having a chip on your shoulder while still looking for one to cry on. It’s being your own worst enemy and your own savior.
With a broad sound backed by fiddle, pedal steel, upright bass, and keys, her high-energy live show is not often expected of the diminutive band leader. Katie Jo’s out to prove that modern country music should be played with just enough bite to last—and you don’t have to wear big hat or beard to do it.
Starting in 2017, she cut her teeth playing punk dive bars and honky tonk holdouts around Southern California and carved out strong support with non-country music fans by playing shows in untraditional venues like boxing gyms and barbershops as well as regional festivals. Since then, she has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with notable artists such as Billy Joe Shaver, Lucero, Jaime Wyatt, and more.
2018’s Prairie Flower EP melded Katie Jo’s windswept Kansas roots with her background in bluegrass music, covering ground with both boot-stomping rompers and mournful country ballads. Lead single “All My Money’s on the Highway” was inspired by the song “Asheville Turnaround” by The Del McCoury Band, a rework of the bluegrass number into a cynical story of what it’s like to try to date in Los Angeles. Swaying two-step title track “Prairie Flower” chronicles a desire to leave one’s rural roots for more exciting experiences and was derived from the 1930s song by The Two Leslies, “I’m a Little Prairie Flower.” Acoustic ballad “Pawn Shop Queen” laments the castaways of past relationships, backed by a mournful accordion and melodic fingerpicking. “Crooked Lies” takes rumors head-on in a country stomper accented with organs and chorus-lifting harmonies.
Katie Jo’s debut full-length country album is currently in production at Big Ego Studios in Long Beach, CA, under the helm of producer Chris Schlarb. The album was recorded in tradition of country records past, with a live backing band in one room, in just three days. It will be released in late 2019.
Also a proficient banjo picker ("2018 Banjo Babe Calendar" artist), Oberthaler can be also often be heard playing with local artists like the Ameripolitan-nominated band The Ponderosa Aces and offstage at bluegrass jam circles in the Los Angeles area.