Music

Marti Jones & Don Dixon

Marti Jones Art

Marti Jones & Don Dixon have been performing together, off and on, for over twenty years. This longtime partnership has resulted in an intimate stage rapport as well as the seamless blending of two of the most distinct voices around today. With over two hundred songs in their collective recorded catalogue, you never know quite what to expect when they hit the stage, but rest assured their performance will feature thoughtful lyrics and heart-felt singing.

The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers are an American folk rock band from Concord, North Carolina. The band is made up of two brothers, Scott Avett and Seth Avett along with Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon. Mike Marsh and Bonnie Avett-Rini are touring members of the band. Wikipedia

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

St. Paul and The Broken Bones is an American eight-piece soul band based in Birmingham, Alabama, United States, that formed in 2012. The band is composed of Paul Janeway, Browan Lollar, Jesse Phillips, Kevin Leon, Al Gamble, Allen Branstetter, Amari Ansari, and Chad Fisher. Wikipedia

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter is an American singer-songwriter. Carpenter spent several years singing in Washington, D.C. clubs before signing in the late 1980s with Columbia Records, who marketed her as a country singer. Wikipedia

John Jennings

Long Time Guitarist, Producer,
Collaborator
John Jennings
R.I.P.

Editor Note: The wonderful video of Down at the Twist and Shout was filmed at the Spanish Ballroom, Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, Md. Take note of both John Jennings and Pete Kennedy on guitar and the wonderful BeauSoleil. Also special because I was there.

Taj Mahal

R.I.P. Gregg Allman

In September 2014, some 50 years after moving to Los Angeles to form the band Rising Sons with fellow blues musician Ry Cooder and Jessie Lee Kincaid, Taj Mahal hightailed it to Nashville to receive an honor he called “one of the most powerful and wonderful things that could ever happen in my life.” Celebrating decades of recording and touring that have nearly singlehandedly reshaped the definition and scope of the blues via the infusion of exotic sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and South Pacific, the two-time Grammy winning singer, songwriter, film composer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist was feted with the Lifetime Achievement for Performance Award at the 13th Annual Americana Honors and Awards.

Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real

“In case you didn’t know, Willie Nelson has a son. His name is Lukas Nelson.

Lucinda Williams

Three-time Grammy Award winner, Lucinda Williams has been carving her own path for more than three decades now. Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Williams had been imbued with a “culturally rich, economically poor” worldview. Several years of playing the hardscrabble clubs gave her a solid enough footing to record a self-titled album that would become a touchstone for the embryonic Americana movement – helping launch a thousand musical ships along the way.

While not a huge commercial success at the time Lucinda Williams (aka, the Rough Trade album) retained a cult reputation, and finally got the reception it deserved upon its reissue in 2014. Jim Farber of New York’s Daily News hailed the reissue by saying “Listening again proves it to be that rarest of beasts: a perfect work. There’s not a chord, lyric, beat or inflection that doesn’t pull at the heart or make it soar.”

For much of the next decade, Williams moved around the country, stopping in Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, and turning out work that won immense respect within the industry (winning a Grammy for Mary Chapin Carpenter’s version of “Passionate Kisses”) and a gradually growing cult audience. While her recorded output was sparse for a time, the work that emerged was invariably hailed for its indelible impressionism — like 1998’s Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, which notched her first Grammy as a performer.

The past decade brought further development, both musically and personally, evidenced on albums like West (2007), which All Music Guide called “flawless…destined to become a classic” and Blessed (2011), which the Los Angeles Times dubbed “a dynamic, human, album, one that’s easy to fall in love with.” Those albums retained much of Williams’ trademark melancholy and southern Gothic starkness, but also exuded more rays of light and hope. This all lead to the 2014 release of Williams’ first double studio album Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone. The album received overwhelming praise from the media and fans, thus proving that Williams’ songwriting is as strong and important as it has ever been.

John Cleary

Jon Cleary’s love and affinity for New Orleans music goes back to the rural British village of Cranbrook, Kent, where he was raised in a musical family.  Cleary’s maternal grandparents performed in London in the 1940s, under the respective stage names Sweet Dolly Daydream and Frank Neville, The Little Fellow With The Educated Feet  – she as a singer, and he as a crooner and tap dancer.  

As a teen Cleary grew increasingly interested in funk-infused music and discovered that three such songs that he particularly admired – LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” Robert Palmer’s version of “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley,” and Frankie Miller’s rendition of “Brickyard Blues”  – were attributed to Allen Toussaint as either the songwriter, the producer, or both. Cleary’s knowledge of Toussaint’s work expanded significantly when his uncle returned home to the U.K., after a two-year sojourn in New Orleans, with a copy of a Toussaint LP and two suitcases full of New Orleans R&B 45s.

In 1981 Cleary flew to New Orleans for an initial pilgrimage and took a cab straight from the airport to the Maple Leaf Bar, a storied venue which then featured such great blues-rooted eclectic pianists as Roosevelt Sykes and James Booker.  Cleary first worked at the Maple Leaf as a painter, but soon graduated to playing piano there – even though his first instrument was the guitar, which he still plays and has recently reintroduced into his live performances. 

As word of Cleary’s burgeoning talent began to spread around town, he was hired by such New Orleans R&B legends as Snooks Eaglin, Earl “Trick Bag” King, Johnny Adams, and Jessie “Ooh Poo Pah Doo” Hill, while also gaining the respect of the great Crescent City pianists Dr. John and the late Allen Toussaint. Years later, in 2012, Cleary recorded a critically acclaimed album of all-Toussaint songs entitled Occapella.
Today, Cleary’s work pays obvious homage to the classic Crescent City keyboard repertoire created by such icons as Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Art Neville, Dr. John, and James Booker – while also using it as a launching pad for a style that incorporates such other diverse influences as ’70s soul and R&B, gospel music, funk, Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Cuban rhythms, and much more.

Deciding to stay in New Orleans, Cleary recorded his first album of nine, to date, in 1989.  His ever-elevating profile led to global touring work in the bands of Taj Mahal, John Scofield, Dr. John, and Bonnie Raitt.  Cleary has led his own group, the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, for over two decades now, but he still collaborates frequently with these old friends.  At the 2018 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, for instance, Cleary performed alongside Raitt in a heartfelt tribute to Fats Domino.


The Wood Brothers

The Wood Brothers’ sixth outing, ‘One Drop of Truth,’ dives headfirst into a deep wellspring of sounds, styles and influences. Whereas their previous outings have often followed a conceptual and sonic through-line, here the long-standing trio featuring brothers Oliver and Chris Wood along with Jano Rix treat each song as if it were its own short film. The plaintive, country-folk of the album’s opening track “River Takes The Town” gives way to the The Band-esque Americana soul of “Happiness Jones.” The wistful ballad “Strange As It Seems” floats on a cloud of stream of consciousness, standing in stark contrast to “Sky High”—a Saturday night barnburner built upon stinging slide guitar funk. “Seasick Emotions” is rife with turmoil, yet “Sparking Wine” is jaunty and carefree. The end result is undeniably The Wood Brothers’ most dynamic recording to date.

Danielle Nicole

Danielle Nicole is a Blues/Roots/Soul Singer and Bassist based in Kansas City, MO. Formerly bassist and shared vocalist of popular band Trampled Under Foot.


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