Wanda Lavonne Jackson is an American singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist who had success in the mid-1950s and 1960s as one of the first popular female rockabilly singers and a pioneering rock-and-roll artist. She is known to many as the “Queen of Rockabilly” or the “First Lady of Rockabilly”.
Jackson mixed country music with fast-moving rockabilly, often recording them on opposite sides of a record. As rockabilly declined in popularity in the mid-1960s, she moved to a successful career in mainstream country music with a string of hits between 1966 and 1973, including “Tears Will Be the Chaser for Your Wine”, “A Woman Lives for Love” and “Fancy Satin Pillows”.
She had a resurgence in popularity in the 1980s among rockabilly revivalists in Europe and younger Americana fans. In 2009 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an Early Influence.
The Cactus Blossoms
"There's no getting around it: You're Dreaming is pretty damn dreamy." - Rolling Stone Country
"There's a '60's simplicity that's instantly engaging - and the Minnesota duo's pure, tight harmonies are superb." - MOJO
When my brother and I started making music as The Cactus Blossoms there wasn’t a big plan. We cut our teeth performing some well known and obscure country songs that were popular or unpopular pre-1960, partly out of curiosity and deep appreciation, but mostly because it was fun. Early on we were given a residency at the Turf Club in St. Paul, Minnesota. We got a band together and it became our weekly practice-in-public where we would pull out every song we could think of, no matter how well we knew it. It was our first chance to play all night and do whatever we wanted. Over the course of our year and a half at the Turf Club our repertoire had snowballed into an amalgam of original songs and a bunch of gut wrenching, tongue-in-cheek heartbreakers, that were 30 years older than us. Not everyone could tell what was new and what was old, and it didn’t really matter. People just seemed to enjoy it. That’s when the wheel got going and gave the illusion of spinning backwards. We weren’t born in the wrong era. We just got into some music from a different era and found a way to make it our own.
Good fortune has followed us every step of the way, offering opportunities that seemed just beyond what we’re ready for. It always stretches us out and makes us feel lucky as hell. When JD McPherson called and said he was interested in producing our record, it was the latest in a series of serendipitous events that brought us to where we are today. We opened for him at a gig in our hometown Minneapolis a few months earlier and had met him briefly, but never could have imagined that within a year we would be collaborating on a new album and criss-crossing America on tour with his band. JD is a music connoisseur with the singing voice of an angel, the boundless creative energy of a child, a scholar’s mind and the auditory perception of a wolf. This guy was the guy. He wanted to do something sparse and rhythmic with simple melodic arrangements and it lined up perfectly with the direction our new songs were leading us.
We wanted to record live with the best rhythm section we could find, in one room, playing together while we sang. It’s not the easiest process, but it’s the way we wanted to capture the music. JD pointed us to Chicago and enlisted the talents of engineer/drummer Alex Hall, guitarist Joel Paterson, and bassist Beau Sample. It felt like a musical dream team, but we had no idea what would happen. We barely knew these guys and they barely knew our music. On the morning of our first session Alex was setting up microphones and running cables through his vents from the living room down to the control room in the basement. The rest of us were drinking coffee in the kitchen and making small talk. JD was running back and forth cracking jokes, trying to decide what song was best to do first. Within a couple of hours “Queen Of Them All” was finished, and everyone knew we were in the right place at the right time.
The result, You’re Dreaming, is the culmination of several years of songwriting and the kindness of thousands of miles and friends. With a cast of characters, experiences, and personal perspectives, set in simple rhymes and sung in harmony, we try to paint a picture in your mind.
Jack Torrey & Page Burkum
Jesse Dayton has been building a cult following around the globe playing festivals around North America and Europe for years with his guitar shredding, country-infused, Americana sound. As a critic’s darling for his first record on Justice Records, Raisin’ Cain (1995), and a number one Americana radio ranking, Jesse was hired at a young age to play lead guitar on some of the last recordings, and play live, by country legends Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, Johnny Bush, Willie Nelson & Glen Campbell and he’s been featured in many guitar magazines.
Sensing a shift in the music business climate, Jesse formed his own label in 2002, Stag Records, and began his most prolific recording period. While recording five solo records, one duet record, one live record, all on Stag, as well as two soundtrack recordings (Devil’s Rejects, Halloween 2) for rocker/director Rob Zombie, Jesse managed to act in movies and music videos, produce several projects for other artists, write two screenplays, and most recently produced his first writer/directorial movie role, “Zombex,” starring Malcolm McDowell. All while performing over 150 dates per year with his ace touring band.
Jesse portrays legendary political satirist and novelist Kinky Friedman in the stage production, Becoming Kinky: The World According to Kinky Friedman. Jesse was cast immediately after his first audition. In 2012, he released a complete project of Kinky Friedman penned songs titled, “Jesse Sings Kinky,” which opened a whole new chapter in the career of such a prolific artist. Today, he’s putting the finishing touches on the soundtrack music for “Zombex.” Down and dirty, southern swamp music, thicker than the New Orleans humidity. The music from “Zombex” brings Jesse’s musical carnival ride full circle, and back to the Texas/Louisiana border where it all began.
A diverse group of masterfully talented musicians who stand out like a sore thumb from the traditional bluegrass world, Whiskey Shivers have made a name for themselves with a genre-pushing sound that theWashington Postcalled "apocalyptic Americana" andNPRdescribed as "frenetic bluegrass" with a "punk spirit.
"On 'Some Part of Something,' their fifth album and "strongest" (Austin Chronicle) release yet, Whiskey Shivers hit their stride, refining their unique sound in the studio while still capturing the infectiously chaotic feeling of their live shows.
Whiskey Shivers shows are always a sight to behold. Barefoot, sleeveless and sweaty, frontman and fiddle master Bobby Fitzgerald never stops smiling on stage. "All right! Let’s kick this thing in the face!” he barks, as the band tears into their stringed instruments at breakneck speed.
It's almost impossible to watch him perform more than a song or two without cracking a smile yourself. His exuberance is contagious, and it bleeds through into the music. Whether they're playing at a backyard house party, a punk-rock dive bar or a sprawling music festival, crowds take notice. People put down their phones, pick up their drinks and start dancing.
“Whiskey Shivers isn't just the five of us on stage, it’s everybody in the room," Fitzgerald says. "We try to bring everybody into the moment and get them to realize there's no wall between us and the crowd. We're all in this together, and we're all here to have a good time. We'lldo our best to facilitate it, but it takes all of us to make it happen. When you start to feel that, you can't help but feel a little attachment and become invested in the show. You realize, 'Oh, I'm here to have good time too!’”
The band members also landed a role in the upcoming film 'Pitch Perfect 3', which hits theaters in December. Plot details have not yet been released, but the band appears in both acting and musical roles alongside a returning cast that includes Anna Kendrick, Hailee Steinfeld and Rebel Wilson.
It might sound strange for a bluegrass band, but the big screen is the perfect place for Whiskey Shivers, who have always followed their own untraditional path to success. An eclectic, charismatic gang of characters, they had their first major breakout when their horror-movie influenced music video went viral after ending up on the top of Reddit's front page. Since then, they've been featured onThe Daily Show,Anthony Bourdain's 'No Reservations'and on NBC’s post-apocalyptic drama'Revolution.'
Despite their joyful demeanor, the guys in Whiskey Shivers aren't pretending that life is always easy. Far from it, Fitzgerald explains. Their songs are often heavy with traditional bluegrass themes and imagery lamenting universal struggles -work,pain, sin, regret and death.
It's in the contrast where Whiskey Shivers' music shines. They infuse their songs with punk rock energy and a darkly comical light-heartedness, stretching the bluegrass genre to fit whatever they feel is right. For them, being happy is a conscious choice, and making fun of life's struggles is part of their philosophy.
"We're all going through shit all the time. We recognize that life's tough," Fitzgerald says. "We try to write songs that recognize the hard times that we all share. When you put your problems out on the table where everyone can see them, it doesn't really have the same power over you any more, and you can start to acknowledge it, separate yourself from it, and go on with your life. Try to take a night where you can forget about your problems and just feel good, have a good time with your friends, make new friends, and be part of a little community for a while.
"That sort of musical honesty is what brought together the ragtag group of string players from small towns around the country to Austin, TX, where Whiskey Shivers was formed when stand-up bassist Andrew VanVoorhees answered a dubious Craigslist ad from a man named "Bob" looking to form a bluegrass band.
The full lineup now consists of Bobby Fitzgerald (vocals, fiddle) from Dundee, NY, Andrew VanVoorhees (bass, vocals) from Prineville, OR, James Gwyn from Meridian, MS (washboards), Jeff “Horti” Hortillosa (vocals, guitar) from Middlesboro, KY, and James Bookert (banjo) from Georgetown, TX.
Fitzgerald admits that it can sometimes seem impossible to maintain such a high level of energy night after night on the road. “Well, it can seem that way, up until the moment the show starts,” he says. “We could have a really tough day, driving through bad weather on no sleep, feeling like shit, the sound is terrible, or whatever else is going on that day. And then as soon as we start playing, it all just kind of falls away. All of the sudden we’re having a good time again, and the momentum carries itself. That's why we're doing this, because we love it.”
Scott H. Biram
In an era where most of the world is floating around on laptop computers and digital social networks, there's still someone out there coughing up chunks of salt, dirt, and gravel into a microphone, and banging out the bowels of what's left of the seeds of man on a 1959 Gibson hollow body guitar. These are the rusty scrapings of resin that have come from modern times having it's way with old time blues, country, and bluegrass roots music. This is Scott H. Biram, The Dirty Old One Man Band from Austin, TX.
When you put a lethal mix of styles and genres like his together you're just asking for a potent cocktail of auditory bliss and blasphemy. Bad Ingredients, his latest libation to hit your palate this fall on Bloodshot Records, is a 13 song happy hour guaranteed to kick your ass and leave you thirsty for more. Recorded at Scott's home studio and mastered by the legendary Jerry Tubb of Terra Nova Mastering (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam), Bad Ingredients delivers in both classic S.H.B. throat stomping style and ever-evolving as a songwriter substance. Crowd pleasing tracks like "Victory Song" and "I Want My Mojo Back" force the listener to bang down their shot glasses in time to the beat, as best they can, and sing along. While "Just Another River" and "Open Road" might just find itself into your cerebellum subconsciously while you fight the late night spins and reflect on another day lost to the night. Bad Ingredients might just cure what ails you and large doses are encouraged...pick it up at a brick and mortar or online this October 11th, 2011.
What makes a Scott H. Biram show unlike anything you've ever experienced? His live stage performance consists of a collection of vintage guitars, a couple rock guitars wired up through a wall of beat up road worn amplifiers, all accompanied by a stomp board of his own creation. The board is powered by two huge big-rig grilled subwoofers that sit directly behind him providing a powerful thump that obligates the crowd to shake their fists and their asses. His voice is driven through the slightest overdriven mics that make the vocals ride on top of his sound while blending perfectly with the rest of the instruments. Scott H. Biram is a man possessed. Why not let his dirty gospel enter your soul and join him at his First Church of the Ultimate Fanaticism...no wine, just whisky. Hallelujah.
JD WILKES WITH THE LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS UNPLUGGED
JD Wilkes is an American musician, visual artist, author, filmmaker and self-proclaimed "southern surrealist". He is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist (notably on harmonica and banjo), having recorded with such artists as Merle Haggard, John Carter Cash, Mike Patton, and Hank Williams III. Wilkes’ latest solo album Cattle in the Cane (Arkam Records, January 2015) includes his own renditions of traditional tunes (mostly old-time mountain music), with performances by elder Kentucky fiddler Charlie Stamper (the brother of Art Stamper) on many of the tracks. In the last two years, Wilkes has continued to develop his solo project, having toured with Charlie Parr and The Tillers, as well as performing at the 2015 Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Wilkes is perhaps best known as the founder of the Legendary Shack Shakers, a Southern Gothic rock and blues band formed in the mid 90s. Fans of his work with Legendary Shack Shakers include Stephen King, Robert Plant and former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra. Rolling Stone named Wilkes as the “best frontman” at the 2015 Americana Music Association Festival for his performance with the band. Regarding the group’s "southern gothic" lyricism, Billboard Magazine said "[Wilkes writes] mind-blowing lyrics rife with Biblical references and ruminations of life, death, sin and redemption.” Legendary Shack Shakers have toured with the likes of Robert Plant and The Black Keys, among others. Their music has been featured in HBO’s True Blood series, and in a long-running Geico commercial.
JD Wilkes has been compared to iconoclasts like David Byrne, Iggy Pop, or Jerry Lee Lewis, and with his small, wiry frame and intense, incandescent performances, it’s not hard to see why. But while he plays the carnival barker onstage, he’s a dedicated lifelong student of true Southern culture. Master banjo player Dom Flemons said, “JD is a real old-Kentucky banjo player and he can take that to the bank! I gotta watch out next time I see his banjo.” A resident of Paducah, Kentucky, Wilkes is a Kentucky Colonel, an honorable title bestowed by the state's Governor upon those with a connection to, or who are famous residents of the state of Kentucky. In 2015, Wilkes was featured on the BBC original series Songs of the South, in an episode focusing on the musical history of Tennessee and Kentucky.
Aside from his prolific career in music, Wilkes is also a published writer, having recently authored the book Barn Dances and Jamborees Across Kentucky, an exploration of his state’s social music and dance history based on extensive fieldwork and research. A true Southern Renaissance man, Wilkes is also an accomplished visual artist (specializing in comics, sideshow banners and book illustrations) as well as a documentary filmmaker (his documentary Seven Signs explores “music, myths, and the American South” and was screened at the UK’s prestigious Raindance Film Festival).
With his powerful, gut wrenching, baritone sound, Gethen Jenkins is on a fast train to stardom. Gethen is an award winning singer and songwriter from Huntington, West Virginia. His songs are of considerable depth and meaning, driven by passion, and full of heart and spirit which are sure to run the gamut of human emotions.
“The relationship between the listeners and music is what I feed on”
Gethen’s journey began surrounded by American music, from the purest of Bluegrass to whiskey soaked Honkytonk. Music took hold at the age of eight, beating on his dad’s Gibson guitar. His teenage years were spent in Galena, a rural indian village on the Yukon River, deep in the Alaskan tundra. After 8 years in the U.S. Marines, Gethen landed in Southern California. Returning from Iraq, determined to sing his own song, he found a home in Country Music with his five piece band The Freightshakers (since revamped as Gethen Jenkins). Over the next several years Gethen immersed himself in his music, working hard to create a unique sound keeping true to his roots.
“This hard-driving, honky-tonk group lead by Gethen Jenkins is a perfect way to spend any night, wherever it may take you.” – National Country Review
Recognizing Gethen Jenkins as a promising talent in Country Music, Five Music and Sony RED approached him in 2016 to join the label. The 805 Beer Brand has also taken notice of Gethen and offered him endorsement with their lifestyle brand kicking off with a billboard campaign Spring 2017 spanning from California to Texas. In conjunction, Sony will release a six song digital EP titled “Where the Honkytonk Belongs” in July 2017. Gethen is currently in studio working on his latest album slated to be released Spring 2018.
With a restless creative spirit and natural born drive to connect with people, it looks like the best is yet to come!
Jaime Wyatt’s newest release Felony Blues, whose title is a nod to records like David Allan Coe’s Penitentiary Blue, 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 to hear.”
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
"Canyon Country Bands are as common as brush fires in LA but the thing that separates this combo apart is the voice of the titular Leslie...a rounded shining thing that evokes Patsy Cline¬πs sass and sorrow in one swoop." - LA Times
"Leslie & the Badgers are quietly turning into one of the city's best...what makes the songs magical is the way Stevens spruces up the retro country-pop settings with clear-eyed and thoughtfully incisive lyrics." - LA Weekly
"As the heart of its expressive ability, Leslie Stevens' voice is the picture of gorgeous restraint, a refined mixture of urbane sophistication and genuine country honey...radiant with style and intellect...her singing is more about movement than volume, and it's what makes it an enduring marvel." Flagpole Magazine
"A fresh, ear-pleasing sound that's attracted a growing Eastside following...'Los Angeles' and pleading 'Winter Fugue' serve notice Stevens is a writer to watch." - Pasadena Weekly
"Seasoned as the weather itself...like a gypsy caravan picking up musicians and fans along the way...real enough to steal one¬πs heart away." - LA Record
"Roomful Of Smoke is an unexpected pleasure and a record that fans of Whiskeytown and Neko Case will find as comfortable as a well-traveled pair of boots...too many standout tracks to list...'Los Angeles,' sounds like it was inadvertently left off Case's Canadian Amp EP, while 'My Tears Are Wasted On You' will likely rocket up the country charts as soon as some savvy producer convinces one of Nashville's cookie-cutter starlets to warble her way through it." - My Old Kentucky Blog
"...led by adorable, sweet-toned singer-songwriter Leslie Stevens whose pipes and presence recall such honest and heartfelt vocalists as Emmylou Harris, Iris DeMent and Alison Krauss, with a touch of Patsy Cline's guilelessness...literate, emotionally-accessible, sometimes whimsical and always heartfelt lyrics...." - MOG dot com
"This album has more class in a follicle of its metaphorical hair than most new country has in its entire existence...That class is established early on by Leslie Steven's soothing voice. You can't help but be reminded of Emmylou Harris when you hear her voice but you will never be confused by it. Ms. Stevens can sing country, R & B, blues, or anything else that may come her way…You best have your ear to the ground on this. It's that good and you can expect to hear a lot more from this amazingly talented band." - No Depression
Close your eyes and imagine the Everly Brothers wearing Tie-Dyed Nudie Suits. Okay, now open them. There’s Mapache.
Youngn’s Clay Finch and Sam Blasucci, the Mapache boys, are barely in their 20s and are already rising to the top of the new wave of West Coast Cosmic Americana. Born and raised in Glendale, California, their breathtaking harmonies and heartfelt yet heady sound, was honed by surfing the beaches and exploring the deserts and canyons of their native California.
Clay spent time at Chico State while Sam missioned in Saltillo, Mexico, living out what would become the songs on their self-titled debut album on the Spiritual Pajamas label.
The lineage of Mapache has blood running back to the first wave of psychedelic country revivalists Beachwood Sparks. Clay is a cousin of Beachwood main man Chris Gunst. Chris and GospelbeacH’s Brent Rademaker went to bat for Mapache by helping them score their first club shows and recording sessions with Dan Horne. Since then they’ve made fans of no less than Chris Robinson, Neal Casal, Jonathan Richman and the Allah Las among numerous others on the California music scene.
“One memorable night they showed up to our gig with deep surfer tans and big white circles around their eyes just like raccoons—Mapache is Spanish for Raccoon,” remembers Rademaker. “The boys set up on stage, sang and played their timeless and soon to be classic songs into a single microphone. Time stood still, and the normally chatty LA crowd closed their mouths and opened their ears and their hearts to Mapache. At that very moment I knew they were on their way.”
"Stories are all around us, and I’m listening to people even when they think I'm not," states Sammy Brue. "If I get to the emotion of it, I can find the words.”
Realism and storytelling are qualities that are prominent on I Am Nice, the 15-year-old Utah singer-songwriter's New West debut. The 12-song album—produced by Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes and John Paul White of the Civil Wars—shows the young troubadour to be a timeless talent whose catchy compositions embody the sort of wisdom, empathy and insight that's usually associated with more experienced songwriters.
On such distinctive originals as "I Know," "Was I the Only One," "I Never Said" and "Control Freak," Brue demonstrates a rare knack for placing himself in the shoes of others, real or fictionalized, and writing melodically inventive, emotionally resonant stories about them. No wonder he's been hailed as an "Americana prodigy" by Rolling Stone and as a "wunderkind" by American Songwriter, as well as receiving early attention from The Wall Street Journal and The Fader, and from his local ABC TV station.
Sammy Brue has been writing songs since the age of 10. After receiving an acoustic guitar from his father for Christmas, he quickly embraced the instrument and began learning the songs of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. Within two months, he'd written his first original, pointedly titled "The Woody Guthrie Song."
"My dad would always play Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie in the car when I was younger," Sammy explains. "So when I first discovered the radio, when I was around six, I was surprised that that kind of music wasn't on the radio. When I started making music myself, I wanted it to have that old sound, because that's what I grew up with and that's what I love.
"My dad got me an electric guitar when I was super-duper-young, and I just wasn't that into it," he continues. "So I asked him for an acoustic guitar, and for some reason that changed everything for me. I started learning the chords and wrote my first songs. The authenticity of the acoustic guitar spoke to me more than the huge sound of an electric band."
Demonstrating an impressive level of drive and dedication, Sammy busked at the Sundance film festival when was just 11 years old, performed at the Newport Folk Festival, and opened shows for the likes of Hayes Carll, Lydia Loveless, John Moreland, Lukas Nelson, Lucinda Williams and Asleep at the Wheel. He also released a trio of homespun but remarkably accomplished EPs—The Ghost of Woody Guthrie, The Bootleg Sessions and I Don't Want You to Leave—which helped to spread word of Brue's talent beyond his home state.
"The first EP," he explains, "was my Woody Guthrie phase. The second I recorded in my laundry room, and it was more like what I'm doing now. The third was me producing it and adding kick drum and tambourine and bass—I think that's where I really found myself."
Among the first to champion Sammy's talents was fellow artist Justin Townes Earle, who invited him to open for him after meeting Sammy and his dad on a tour stop, and later featured him on the cover of his 2014 album Single Mothers.
The growing buzz helped Brue to win a recording deal with New West, home of such Americana icons as Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle and John Hiatt. Recording I Am Nice in Florence, Alabama, Sammy, along with co-producers Tanner and White, gently augmented his songs with spacious, evocative arrangements that showcase the strength and substance of his lyrics and melodies.
"It was just a great experience," Sammy recalls, admitting, "I was nervous at first, because I'd never recorded an actual album with real professionals and I didn't know what to expect. But eventually I told myself 'This is your album, this is what you want to do for the rest of your life,' and that's when I pulled into another gear.
"Two days into the recording, me and John Paul White and Ben Tanner were best friends. It was so easy, because we were all on the same page, so I didn't feel too nervous to say 'let's add this' or 'let's take this out and try something else.' I expected John Paul to be a very serious, strict person, but he was an even bigger goofball than me. That made the whole experience a lot easier.
With his first full album in hand and his first national tour in the offing, Sammy Brue is matter-of-fact about taking his next musical steps.
"The whole idea of music, for me, is to make people feel certain emotions, and make them feel like I'm singing to them." he states. "When people tell me they feel that way, it gives me a lump in my throat. There's endless possibilities to music, and I can't wait to learn more about it and find new hooks and new ways that chords go together.
"I'm lucky enough to have found the thing that I want to do for the rest of my life," he concludes. "It's kind of funny, because my friends and my family all see me as a goofy teenager who can't take anything seriously, but I'm very serious about music."
It’s twenty-eighteen in the southwestern corner of America. There’s snow in the distant mountains and the slow desert sunset creeps through the windshield of the Mercury on 40 West. The young man is driving home, wherever that is.
He was born in a small woodland house in the Hudson Valley, raised in rural Maine, and enlightened by time spent in New York City. He’s landed in Los Angeles for now, where the Sunset Strip is a wasteland, Silverlake has peaked, and the spirit of Laurel Canyon echos through the hills of Highland Park. The end of the world is a damn inspirational place to be.
He writes and records. The hard work shines through in his craft without a scrap of it being over-thought. It’s American music. It’s conceived on highways between cities past their prime. It’s born from memories and dreams of fresh starts. There’s rich history to draw from in Nashville, Memphis, Muscle Shoals, Bakersfield and Austin, but he doesn’t desire a repeat. He celebrates the richness of a multi-generational record collection while adding a fresh voice to the conversation, and the music is new.
Every year Elijah Ocean crisscrosses the country singing his songs and making memories. With four full-length LPs under his belt and a fifth in the chamber, Ocean is just hitting his stride.
For now there’s a much-needed diner booth in Needles on 66. Welcome to California. Set your clocks.
Albert & His Dreamboats
Albert and His Dreamboats is a southern California country band comprised of a line-up of experienced LA musicians. I met my Dreamboats while pursuing a music degree at CalArts- each of them, at the time, engaged in projects spanning from hardcore math rock to 1920's New Orleans Jazz. What brought us all together was a shared sense of humor and deep appreciation of great song writing, especially those penned by the hillbilly Shakespeare, Hank Williams.
After two years apart, each of us touring and recording with different groups, we all found ourselves back in Los Angeles. During that time, Roger Miller took full residency in my headphones; I realized great country music has no set form. Pick up trucks and tales of heartbreak delivered with a southern twang isn't a requirement- just commonplace.
This realization took the pressure off, and led to a string of songs that would eventually become "Seven Songs to Whistle While Your Fishin'." Robert Anderson, a drummer I had toured with in the past, was the first to join me on these recordings. With only one microphone and two days time we cranked out seven tracks.
I brought these recordings to Jordan Bush, an incredibly talented multi instrumentalist and close friend, who provided harmonica, saxophone, and pedal steel. After a little over a week we had fifty hand assembled CD's and the beginnings of a country band. I shared the CD's with Dylan Rodrigue (Guitar, Bible Study) and Thomas Berg (Bass, Buckaroo), two musicians I've admired for years, and they both responded with fantastic encouragement and interest in joining the lineup.
With the lineup now set, we released the 2015 holiday album, "Seven Songs to Whistle While You Christmas" and have begun playing around Los Angeles and San Francisco.
All in all, I'm trying to write the kind of songs I'd like to hear and put on the kind of shows I'd like to see. Our story is in it's earliest chapters, but I'm confident in what this will become and have thoroughly enjoyed the ride so far.
Thanks for checking us out- we'd love to have you on board!
Cpt. Albert T. Hickman
Sie Sie Benhoff
American country music singer and songwriter
Blue Rose Rounders
Singer-songwriter Andrew Sheppard grew up in Hailey, Idaho around an abundant amount of musicians as his mother was always playing and singing in rock and roll and blues bands. Influenced by taking in their rehearsals and live shows, Sheppard was playing bass in punk rock bands in high school. At the age of 19, he picked up the guitar and started writing songs and 10 years later, he is poised to release his sophomore album, Steady Your Aim on March 23rd.
Steady Your Aim is a concept record, a musical journey in which every song was methodically thought out to fit the record. An analog recording, it is a cinematic dreamscape narrative that is richly layered with the pedal steel, piano, cello, Wurlitzer and organ. All of their parts are gently tucked in which leaves the listener wondering just what it is they are actually hearing. “We used traditional sounding instruments to create a new sound,” said Sheppard. “For example, we used cello on this record because I wanted a deep sound that didn’t come from anything electric or synthetic. Instead of being a ‘lead’ instrument we used it as a texture tool giving the songs a more rich and ‘real’ feel.” Produced by Sheppard, Eric Loomis and Wes Walsworth (both of whom play guitar on the album), Steady Your Aim was recorded at Loomis’ Ivy Hall Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. John Mayfield at Mayfield Mastering mastered the record.
Leaving Idaho just after high school, Sheppard headed to Los Angeles, CA to pursue his other passion, skateboarding. After a blown-out knee derailed his skating plans, he shifted his focus back to writing music. In 2008 he formed the band, The Gypsy River Haunts that disbanded in 2012. Feeling the need to roam, he bought a car, loaded up his dog and headed around the country collecting stories for what he deemed his “record-writing road trip”. After 8,000 miles of driving, Sheppard wound up back in Idaho with no plan to stay, but realized after landing, that all his childhood friends were great musicians and that he had everything he needed to make the record he had in mind. Packing it up for a trip to LA, Sheppard and pals recorded Far From Here in 2015 at Bedrock Studios before heading back to Idaho. “I realized how much more I thrive in a mountain town,” said the artist. “I need to be in nature to feel a bit more sane.”
But a slower pace doesn’t mean that Sheppard has slowed down. He is on the road constantly (both solo and with band), playing festivals such as Stagecoach Country Music Festival, Treefort Music Festival, The Feed LA Festival and The Northern Rockies Music Festival. He’s shared the stage with The Black Lillies, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Whiskey Shivers and Scott H. Biram and has toured with friend and fellow roots musician, Jeff Crosby.
On Steady Your Aim, Sheppard doesn’t sugarcoat any of the emotions in his songwriting. He writes honest music that comes from the heart and darker places in life. The first track of the album “Take A Walk With Me” is inspired by packing up his life in LA and heading back to the mountains…”I was tired of the coast, so I booked it for the pines. Took a swing at the open road and caught up with my mind.” The more somber 2nd song, the title track, is a response to the first song, where he is taking the musical journey and dealing with the trials and tribulations of what being a musician on the road means. “The instruments are meant to make you look at everything wide-screen, like watching a film,” he explains.
From the sad and happy, “Here at the Bottom”, to the protest vision of “Not My Kind”, to the traditional (yet modern) waltz of “Holy Water” Steady Your Aim takes you on a musical journey from start to finish with a modern and experimental sound. Sheppard writes songs and music that isn’t a carbon copy of other country and Americana artists and that touches on subjects you don’t typically touch.
“Writing a song is something that I don’t, and won’t take for granted,” Sheppard vows. “Every show, every tour and every album provide me with new insight and a new way of looking at life. It helps me grow as a person and an artist and I want to see where that takes me for the rest of my life.”
Steady Your Aim releases on March 23rd, 2018 and will be available on digital and CD.
I play guitar in Olin & The Moon. This is where i get my angst out. Over the years i have written hundreds of songs... the ones that i love, i give a voice, and i can't thank my brother and band and friends enough.
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