Grand Ole Echo
Brian Whelan + The Rockin' Roachas
To me, Brian Whelan will always be the Kid. When he first materialized several years ago at the Cinema Bar, that charmingly crowded, noisy little room in Culver City known as "The World's Smallest Honky Tonk," he was an alarmingly boyish presence. At first he stood out because he didn't look old enough to legally consume the beer he was holding. But he soon distinguished himself as a young lion behind the roots-rock sages – Randy Weeks, Mike Stinson, Tony Gilkyson – whose shows packed out the tiny joint. It became quickly apparent that Brian could play just about anything, and brilliantly; his formidable chops later found him a primo spot in Dwight Yoakam's band. But he displayed other musical dimensions: He also played in a tough little pop-rock band, known variously as the Brokedown and the Broken West, which recorded a couple of fine records before lamentably breaking up too soon. He fronted another rockin' unit, Wheelhouse, as a prelude for the album you're listening to now. It shows off splendidly the many things – singing, playing, writing -- that Brian does so exquisitely well. And it cuts across the broad swatch of stylistic turf that he occupies effortlessly, from the rootsy inventions of Gilkyson's "Mojave High" and Stinson's "Brand New Love Song" to a group of originals (two of them co-authored by Broken West cohort Ross Flournoy) that to my ears bear favorable comparison to the best of Nick Lowe or the Plimsouls.
Yeah, he's still the Kid to me. But Brian Whelan's work is thoroughly mature and emotionally wise, and many another grown-up musician will envy its excellence.
Host, "Watusi Rodeo"/Scion Radio 17
Los Angeles, June 2012
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.
Taylor Goldsmith (of Dawes)
American singer, guitarist and songwriter. Member of the band DAWES.
Pearl Charles lives in the moment, seeking excitement whether it leads her down a dark, dusty road or into the arms of a trouble-making lover. Her full-length debut album, Sleepless Dreamer, describes late night revelry, love affairs, running away and running towards, serenading the sunrise through whirlwind stories of her native Los Angeles, the city, the canyon, the desert, and the road. On a quest to discover the truest version of herself, Charles embraces the feeling of not being settled, a person who always restlessly wants more from life and is willing chase it, wherever it may lead her.
Sleepless Dreamer finds her soulful, often sultry voice gliding through songs tinged with cosmic Americana, a little disco, some classic rock & roll, and a whole lot of that smooth AM gold. Passion, psychedelics and heartbreak inform the highs and lows she rides through the album. Finally able to see clearly through the smoke and mirrors of her surroundings, Charles departs on a consequent journey of questioning and soul-searching, eventually hitting the road in the inevitable search for answers.
As heard in the title track, themes of disillusionment and subsequent realization run through to the album. Examined through the lens of relationships, whether it be the one between her and a lover, a friend, a city, the road, the world, or perhaps most importantly, herself, each experiences helps to shape her developing perspective and worldview.
On “All The Boys,” she contemplates the cyclical nature of toxic attraction. Funky stand-out “Night Tides” looks at the illusion a person presents in the beginning of a romance, only to reveal their true colors once they’ve lured you in. She recognizes the pattern of being drawn to a tempting yet toxic muse over and over, but admits it fuels her creatively.
While many of the songs revolve around romance, they are juxtaposed with more existential/philosophical tracks like “Ghost” and “Only In America”, examining the meaning of life and what plagues her generation of disaffected youth.
Arriving January 2018 on Kanine Records, Sleepless Dreamer was produced and engineered by Kenny Woods (formerly of Beck) at the Haas Brothers studio in West Adams, CA. After working together on some covers for Aquarium Drunkard’s Lagniappe Sessions series last summer, Charles knew Woods was the right person to collaborate with on her full-length album.
Enlisting an all-star band of friends, the album features the work of Father John Misty’s Chris Dixie Darley (guitar), Dan Bailey (drums), Eli Thompson (bass), and David Vandervelde (guitar), Darian Zahedi (guitar) of CRX, Connor “Catfish” Gallaher (pedal steel) of Calexico, Drew Erickson (keys) of Roger Waters, and Maxim Ludwig (guitar). Additional writing collaborators include Stephen McBean (Black Mountain), Jonathan Rice, Jonathan Tyler (Nikki Lane), Carrick Moore-Gerety, and Brian Harding.
Charles has been playing music since she was five years old. At 18, she formed country duo The Driftwood Singers with Christian Lee Hutson, singing and playing guitar and autoharp. At 22, she joined garage rock band The Blank Tapes as drummer. After two fun-filled years immersed in the rock and roll lifestyle, she decided it was time to pursue her own songwriting, and began developing the songs that formed 2015’s eponymous debut EP on Burger Records. Her music career has been a chronological progression from old time music to 60’s garage and psychedelia, and now more 70’s country rock and 80’s smooth rock. Drawn to catchy, poppy hooks and choruses, Charles draws on what she loves about each era while developing her unique style as a musician, singer, and songwriter.
Austin McCutchen was born in Joplin, Mo. He is a songwriter, and now lives in Los Angeles. Check out his music!
LA rock n’ roll. Debut album out now on Sire Records.
Kate Flannery (of Big Dick)
Albert Hickman (of Albert & His Dreamboats)
Pre Post Roots
Marc Orrell (of Wild Roses)
At the age of 17, Marc Orrell joined his favorite punk band playing lead guitar, piano, accordion, and banjo for Boston natives Dropkick Murphys. Marc wrote music and toured with DKM cranking out anthemic Irish punk rock melodies for eight years.
After leaving Dropkick Murphys to concentrate on different styles of music, Marc transplanted himself from Worcester, MA to Los Angeles, CA to start a project of his own singing and playing guitar in Wild Roses.
Whilst punk rock at heart Wild Roses is also influenced by the music of Ryan Adams, Rolling Stones and The Replacements.
In 2013 a three track EP entitled "Denim" was released that had more of a gritty 70's rock style to it. The EP was laid down at "Dave's Room" in North Hollywood where they worked with producer Dave Bianco with whom Marc worked with when Dave engineered and co-produced the Dropkick Murphys album "The Warrior's Code" and the band's ubiquitous hit, "I'm Shipping Up To Boston".
Currently in the studio recording tunes for their next release Wild Roses are also traveling the country honing their live show.
Wild Roses hillbilly barroom blues style has been described in many ways from Americana to alt-country to rock n' roll to hillbilly. Unwilling to be pigeon holed into any one genre their songs are often played in different ways or with different keys and sometimes different instrumentations. Breaking down their sets, shifting from energetic acoustic foot stomping sing-a-longs with pedal steel and upright bass moving into rhythmic dance rock no-brainers with Hammond organ and electric guitar.
Nicole Eva Emery
With a sound shaped from surf/garage rock, dreampop, postpunk and gothic americana, Nicole Eva Emery's music rearranges genres while treading between lightness and depth. Inevitably influenced by her dual career as an ER trauma nurse and musician, Emery's writing brings a unique perspective and intimacy to familiar themes of love, loneliness, loss, and wanderlust.
Her anticipated debut album is produced with Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Lord Huron) It's a long time coming from this Los Angeles-based artist, who after years of working with artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, Jesca Hoop, The Black Ryder, and The Big Pink, is ready to bring her alternately driving and ethereal guitar/synth-driven songs to the foreground.
MAESA (Maesa Pullman) is a mountain-siren soul-folk Americana-rocknroll singer-songwriter music-maker based in Los Angeles, California. She writes, records, and performs her original music all over Los Angeles and has toured the U.S. and Scandinavia. She often plays with her family band, the Whole Damn Fam, which includes brothers Jack and Lewis Pullman and cousin Rosa V. Pullman. The music is a folk-funk blue-country swamp-spiritual dream. She also collaborates with Norwegian producer Hans Petter Gundersen and is the lead singer of his Norway-based band The Last Hurrah!! Their latest release, Mudflowers (Runegrammofon), came with liner notes by David Fricke (Rolling Stone) and was met with great acclaim. Several of Maesa's original songs can be heard on TV shows such as OWN's Queen Sugar, Wentworth, Catfish, Burn Notice, Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce and others. She has independently released singles, Bells, Again Again, and Woah Honey as well as a six song EP called Whippoorwill. She looks forward to releasing her first full-length album in 2018.
Ruby Force, the musical brainchild of Erin McLaughlin, captures her personal journey of self-discovery...marked by a maturity and ease in tone, lyrics that elicit confidence in the midst of questions, and a flirty playfulness that will melt anyone's heart. All this - with an invitation to listen and engage in her twisted tales of life and love, lost and gained.
Evolutionary War, her debut effort, is a full length album, set to be released in 2015 via CatBeach Music. It transports the listener through McLaughlin’s own experiences – from her upbringing in the yellow-hued fields of the Southwest, through the dank, fluoresced streets of urban metropolises, and across a myriad of international seas. Enlisting the collaboration of musical luminaries such as Elijah Thomson (Everest, Delta Spirit, Father John Misty), Richard Swift (The Black Keys, The Shins, Foxygen), Frank Lenz (Pedro The Lion) and Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), McLaughlin keeps good company on the sojourn as these creative partners inject a wealth of heart, brains and guts into her already soul-wrenching compositions.
‘After the first pass through Evolutionary War, it is clear that we are witnessing only the emergence of an exciting new artist, as the songs weave through a host of familiar musical genres creating an exciting hybrid of past, present and future. If this independently produced release is any indication, the future is glittered with Ruby Force.’ - Eli Thomson
Pretty like a pistol, and sassy like a tequila sunrise, soulful redhead Dominique Pruitt is here to shimmy your coconut tree with her own brand of retro pop that'll have you craving a classic convertible getaway to a mid-century modern paradise. At age 9, Dominique's course of her young life was changed when she saw the John Waters' film Cry Baby, and there it was--she was madly in love with all things 1950s, especially the music, and there was no escaping it. As she got older, everything about the 1940s and 1960s snuck into that special place in her heart as well. Her musical style follows the same cues with major nods to the sounds of bygone eras, updating her pop Patsy Cline and 60s beach vibes with hints of Nick Lowe and The Cramps. Growing up high on a hill in “the” Valley outside of Los Angeles, she made up imaginary friends when she was a small child, and this is where her love of story-telling began. Her parents and all of their friends were professional musicians, so being surrounded by eccentric music makers was just normal life. Her singing career started as a young girl, and her first audience was actually her horse, who would listen while walking for hours on a dusty trail. She’s a flea market treasure scourer, a tiki drink sipper, a rhinestone cowgirl--really, she still has horses--and loves all that sparkles. Today she still sings to her horse, but much more so for her fans around Los Angeles. Dominique has an interesting writing partner, her Dad (with a pretty weird past)…but that's a whole other story. She is ready to release her debut, and can’t wait to let everyone hear what she's been cookin' up.
The Fearless Kin
Hailing from the hills of Grass Valley, California, Paige Anderson & The Fearless Kin is a band consisting of siblings rich in sweet harmonies, tasteful songwriting, and a style all their own, ages ranging from 20 to 13. The siblings has been playing music since 2004, starting out with their family band, Anderson Family Bluegrass (http://www.AndersonFamilyBluegrass.com). The family band consisted of Mom Christy, Dad Mark, Paige, Aimee, Ethan and Daisy May, and they traveled and performed regionally and across the US at many well known events and festivals (Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Wintergrass, International Bluegrass Music Awards and Conference, and many more…) . By 2012, Paige had written enough songs that she wanted to start another project, thus forming Paige Anderson & The Fearless Kin. During the end of 2012, The Fearless Kin released their first EP, and 2013 brought many new adventures. In 2014, the youngest member of the Anderson clan, Daisy, decided she wanted to be a part of the group and has been playing dobro in the band. Paige Anderson & The Fearless Kin are currently in the process of working on their second album (full length) consisting of all original material.