Grammy-winning Soul and R&B singer Betty Wright, best known for her hits “Clean Up Woman,” and “No Pain, No Gain,” has died. She was 66. The death was confirmed by her niece this morning on Twitter:
I just lost my aunt this morning…. and now my mood has changed…. sleep in peace aunty Betty Wright. Fly high angel.
In a later tweet she paid tribute to her aunt:
My auntie was a legend…. she helped me get my first paychecks singing background….. and I didn’t make it to see you this past week and that’s going to haunt me …. R.I.P. Betty Wright.
Although no cause of death has yet been released, we can assume that Wright had been ill. A May 2nd tweet from long-time friend Chaka Khan read:
Calling all my #PrayerWarriors. My beloved sister, Betty Wright is now in need of all your prays. “Que Sera, Sera – Whatever Will Be, Will Be.” In Jesus name we pray for Sister Betty. All my love, Chaka.
Wright was born Bessie Regina Norris on December 21st, 1953 in Miami, Florida. She began her professional career at the age of two when her siblings formed the gospel group, the Echoes of Joy, with whom Wright performed until the mid-1960s. Wright contributed to vocals on the group’s first album, released in 1956.
She switched from Gospel to R&B at the age of 11, and had her first record deal a year later with Deep City Records. Wright released a couple of locally successful singles for the label. Her first album was My First Time Around, on the Atco label, released when she was just 14. It contained the song, “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do,” which landed Wright on the Billboard charts for the first time. (Interesting side note, Allman Brothers co-founder Butch Trucks was the drummer on that album)
When she was still just 17 years old Betty cut what would become her signature song, “Clean Up Woman.” The record reached number two on the R&B charts, where it stayed for eight weeks. It crossed over to the pop charts, peaking at number six and staying on the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks. It eventually sold over a million copies and was certified gold on December 30, 1971, nine days after the singer turned 18.
In all, Wright released 20 LPs and 38 singles during her six and one-half decades in the music business. With her whistle-register voice, she was also a much-sought-after studio artist, appearing on no fewer than 75 album releases from artists including Blues Hall of Famer Latimore, Johnny Nash, Stephen Stills, Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Bob Marley and Joss Stone to name just a few. Her most recent contribution was on the 2018 album Playing Chess by Elise Legrow.
Far more than a singer, Wright was also a vocal coach (Danity Kane), producer (Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Joss Stone), Grammy-winning composer (“Where is the Love”) and record label owner (Ms B Records).
*Feature image by Diana Levine from Ms Wright’s Facebook
Buddy Guy will be 84 on July 30th. When the pandemic hit, he had scores of touring dates scheduled and now all cancelled. It has been widely reported that people over 60 are the most likely to die from the coronavirus. On the face of it, Buddy would seem to be a prime candidate not to outlive this worldwide horror that grows like a cancer daily.
Odds are he’ll beat it.
He has a history of beating the odds since his first day out of the womb. One of five children born to sharecroppers Sam and Isabel Guy, he lived in a weathered shotgun shack on a plantation in rural Lettsworth, Louisiana. As a child it was his responsibility to bring in the wood for the fire at night. If he didn’t, it would get wet. One day, his daddy held up a stick of that wood, waved it in front of young Buddy’s face and said, “You gotta make that fire even if it’s wet wood.”
At age 10 he told his mother he couldn’t wait until he was a man. “She used to look at me and say, ‘Ok, when you get to be a man, you got to go where you don’t want to go’ and I just realized she was telling me the truth. At that time, I couldn’t see that.”
In 1997 I asked Buddy if performing around the world was still fun. “I’m having fun, but it’s still work, Don. It’s just like on the farm when I was sharecroppin’ with my parents. If you don’t do it, no one else will. You got to do it, but it still takes its toll, you know. You’re just a human being. I guess that’s why I’ve held on so long because a lot of entertainers are trying to figure out what to do to not get tired or let you know that you’re human. They switch to other things. I’m just telling you that I’m enjoying it, but it’s work.”
Before I began writing Buddy Guy’s authorized biography in 1988, I told myself that I wanted to know the secret behind his unparalleled energy as a blues guitarist. I wrote Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues twice without ever satisfying myself with the answer to that question. Three decades and a score of interviews with him later, I’ve come to understand that he has a God given talent to rip up the road with that guitar and the blessing of having been born to parents who learned how to survive racial prejudice that made sharecropping the 20th century equivalent to slavery.
At age three, Buddy ripped apart his mama’s broom and tore out the wire holding the straw together, nailed it to the wall of their shack and plucked the string. When that didn’t work, he’d disassemble the screen door and use the wire to fashion a guitar.
When he left home for Chicago, he went seven days hungry and was about to call home to throw in the towel when Otis Rush brought him into a club for a hamburger and he got his first gig. When I brought him into WVKZ in Schenectady, New York for an interview before a show in 1989 with six of his CDs in hand, the station played an Eric Clapton song and refused to air anything by Buddy.
It was Clapton who gave Buddy his biggest boost with the suits that controlled radio airplay. I once asked him the reporter’s question that he hates the most. “Don, I been popped with questions I don’t like, but me and you been friends for a long time. The one I hate the most is, ‘Do you have to be black to play the blues?’ And I disagree with that.”
Buddy was on tour with a young Jonny Lang at the time. “I don’t let things like that bother me because I once was Jonny Lang’s age. I didn’t get the opportunity he got at 17 or 18. I was ignored then and still have been ignored to a certain extent, but that don’t bother me because if it bothers you, you wind up like an Otis Rush or Eddie Boyd, just mad at the world. I’m just having fun, and hopefully I can strike the right note or say the right word once where someone can say, ‘Well, after all, he got it played.’ People like Jonny Lang, Stevie Ray Vaughan, all these young people playing give us a boost like Eric (Clapton) and the rest of ’em did. I don’t have no complaint against then. Without them, I don’t know if you’d (hear me) as much as you do.”
It took Buddy Guy more than half a century to claw his way to the top.
The polka dot guitar he plays today has special significance. When he left for Chicago in 1957 he promised his mom he’d return in a polka dot Cadillac. “She passed away in ’68, and I still wasn’t able to get the polka dot Cadillac, and I never forgot it. So, I got a polka dot guitar just to remind me that that’s what I promised my mom.”
One of the few contemporary songs Buddy does in concert today is “Skin Deep,” a song he co-wrote with his producer and drummer Tom Hambridge. “I used to run in the house in the country with no shoes on and put this slick grease on my hair, brush it back and say, ‘Boy, I’m good looking,’ and be sitting there chewing a little piece of tobacco. My mom would say, ‘Boy, beauty is only skin deep.’ And I just never forgot that, and I been trying to record that for years. A lot of stuff I tried to record and they wouldn’t let me do it.”
Editor’s note: Don Wilcock currently is writing his memoirs. One of the chapters will be on Buddy Guy.
Part I of a deep appreciation of the late songwriter
IT’S ONE OF his earliest memories: He’s four years old, standing up on a box in front of his father’s big band, baton in hand, conducting. Though his dad stood behind him, doing the real work, for Dan it was a foreshadowing of what his life would be — following in his father’s footsteps to become the leader of the band.
“It was an amazing feeling,” he declared decades later during a series of converations.
“To be immersed in music. It felt both very magical and powerful. And I was fearless.”
That fearlessness has led him far, as he developed into one of popular music’s most gifted and successful singer-songwriters. With an early genius for both melody and harmony, a soulfully angelic singing voice, and a natural gift for romantic expression, Dan Fogelberg has created songs that have become so embedded in our collective consciousness that they still resound with authentic magic and beauty years after they first emerged.
I was raised by a river Weaned upon the sky And in the mirror of the waters I saw myself learn to cry
from ‘The River’
His story starts in Illinois. In Peoria, specifically, a little town that in the words of Charles Kurault, is in the middle of the state, in the middle of the country, in the middle of the world.
Born the youngest of three sons, he was raised in a musical home. His father, Lawrence Fogelberg, was a “legitimate musician” as Dan refers to him, a bandleader who led the big bands long before Dan was born. His mother, Margaret Irvine, was born in Scotland and came to Illinois with her parents at the age of three. A gifted singer, she studied operatic singing throughout college, and it’s she who Dan points to as the source of his innate vocal prowess.
Daniel Grayling Fogelberg was born in Peoria on August 13, 1951. His father taught music in local high schools and colleges, gave private lessons, and conducted school bands. Dan’s early creativity surfaced in imaginative ways to avoid piano practice. ” I used to fake injuries,” he said proudly, “even taping up my finger and saying I jammed it playing baseball. But it wasn’t a trick you could use a lot.” Though he didn’t like lessons, he loved the instrument itself, and would spend endless happy hours at the keys, sounding out the hits of the day.
In church, he loved the music but grew restless during the sermons. To keep him occupied, his folks provided pen and paper, thus fuelling his love for drawing and painting that has extended throughout his life. He was a constructive kid quick to create his own fun — at a cub scout jamboree where boys hurled baseballs at old records as a kind of carnival sport, he collected all the unbroken ones, a great bounty of old obscure fifties pop and college fight songs.
His maternal grandfather, a steelworker from Scotland who worked at a foundry in Peoria, gave him an old Hawaiian slide guitar. It had pictures of dancing hula girls engraved on it, as well as steel strings about a half-inch from the neck, tough for anyone, but nearly impossible for an eleven year old beginner. Yet he took to it naturally, forcing him to acquire a strong left hand as he taught himself chords from his Mel Bay guitar book.
In 1963, he heard The Beatles for the first time, triggering the realization that songs are written, they don’t simply just exist. He started writing his own then, entirely in the Beatles’ pervasive thrall, while also assimilating the rock and roll riffs of Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins, as well as the delicate melodic leads of George Harrison. He started performing by lip-synching with friends to Beatles records at a variety show before forming his first real band, the Clan, who played all Beatles songs at backyard parties and street dances. Their reign extended through Dan’s junior year in high school, when the others fell away from music to get involved in the social matrix of school. While their connection with music diminished, his became more intense than ever, as did his need to express himself in other ways, from drawing and painting to acting.
By now the music that inspired him the most was the West Coast rock of bands such as the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield, as well as the contemporary folk of Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. Having abandoned the matching black velour pullovers favoured by the Clan, his attire now included moccasins, fringe and silver in the style of Neil Young.
When he joined a new band, the Coachmen, he did so only on the condition that they abandon the Paul Revere & the Raiders outfits they still wore. He was a valuable asset to the group, bringing his repertoire of folk-rock to their mix of R & B and soul standards, as well as possessing a great ear, a miraculous voice, and like his father, an impressive versatility on a variety of instruments. “We would be doing ‘Bluebird’ by Stephen Stills,” he remembered, “and I’d play 12-string for the whole song until the end and then launch into banjo. Pretty adventurous for kids from Illinois.”
These were his river years, as he withdrew daily to a sacred spot between two ancient pines overlooking the Illinois River.
“I was not feeling like a part of Peoria anymore. I was off in my own trip, deep inside myself. At the same time, I was terribly excited because I was discovering this whole person I never knew could exist, and this music and this creativity.
“It was a great awakening, the beginning of a great journey. And I knew the river was a conscious metaphor for my escape from Peoria. I was just waiting to leap on its back and ride it, down to St. Louis and New Orleans and out to the Gulf and on to the world.” A Leo with Cancer rising, he understood even then the opposing astrological forces at work that left him feeling conflicted — the extroverted entertainer who exists to perform, and the introverted artist who requires solitude.
After graduation, he felt he could have gone in many directions, and eventually decided to pursue acting at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Finding the college acting scene to be more political than theatrical, he switched majors to study art, with aspirations of becoming a serious painter.
Yet music kept calling, this time in the form of a kindred soul, musician Peter Berkow, who ran a little folk music club called The Red Herring. Berkow invited him to perform, and before long Fogelberg was a cherished part of the burgeoning coffee house scene. “I started meeting like-minded people, musicians who were bright and well read, and I realized that I was finally free of the provincialism of high school.” He started playing his own songs, and the spirit of the scene shifted from politics to music: “The Red Herring went from being a hide-out for pinko leftists who were plotting the overthrow of the government to a really creative musical scene. And it started packing people in.”
Anyone back then who heard the sophistication of his songs, and the power with which they were rendered, knew that it was only a matter of time before his break would come. That break arrived late one night when a former high school sweetheart knocked on his door, urgently awakening him from a sound sleep to say that an important music agent wanted to hear him play. Though half-asleep, Dan followed her to a frat party at a funky little bar to meet Irving Azoff, a U. of I. grad now running a local booking agency.
Azoff, who had already landed the regional band REO Speedwagon a record deal with Epic, was on the look-out for new artists. Onstage was a raucous rock band playing to a mostly drunken crowd, their songs punctuated by the rhythm of beer bottles crashing against the back wall. Azoff ignored the clamour which continued when Dan took the stage alone. Though the bar brawls failed to subside, in the soulful beauty of Fogelberg’s songs, Azoff saw his own future. “Yeah,” Irving said to him after his set. “You’re the one. I’m ready for the big time. And I think you’re ready for the big time, too.”
Dan dropped out of school. Shocking his parents by showing up at home at midday in mid-semester, he told them his plans. His father, silent for a long time, finally said quietly, “Okay, I don’t agree with this, but if this is really what you want, you go try it for a year. If it doesn’t work out, you come back and go back to school.” This support was the greatest gift his father could give him, inspiring Dan years later to write “Thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go” in his famous tribute to his father, “Leader Of The Band”.
Azoff moved to Hollywood, setting up an office on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood directly across the street from David Geffen, who was in the first stages of establishing his own Asylum Records, and signing singer-songwriters such as Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell.
Receiving $200 in travelling money from Irving, Dan rented a pickup truck in Chicago, and headed west. Running out of money in Estes Park, Colorado, he found what he felt was the most stunning place in the world. Remaining happily stranded there for a week, he befriended a local hotel owner who gave him free lodging. He spent his days hiking in the mountains, and writing such songs as the beautiful ‘Song From Half Mountain’. Azoff soon wired him enough money to move on, but he never forgot the spirit of pure inspiration he felt in those mountains, touching him as deeply as his connection with the Illinois River.
Arriving in L.A., a few days later, Dan headed directly to Sunset Boulevard to meet Azoff in front of the famous Whisky a Go Go, where his idols from Buffalo Springfield first met. Azoff drove him to a little San Fernando Valley apartment dubbed “The Alley in the Valley” because of its alley entrance. They lived there together for months as Azoff shopped his tape around town. As Dan recalled, “Irving would come home one day and say ‘Okay, the deal’s done — we’re signing with Asylum!’ Then three days later he’d come back and say, ‘It’s A&M. I got a better deal.’ This went on for months. Then he’d come home and say, ‘No, it’s Capitol!”
They eventually signed with Columbia Records, persuaded by Clive Davis in a Hollywood ritual held at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel: “Clive had everything laid out –caviar, canapés, the whole deal. He played me Paul Simon’s first solo record, which had yet to come out, and kept talking about a kid named Springsteen and a guy named Billy Joel who he had signed. Clive said, ‘I’m signing singer-songwriters, and I think you belong here too.’ He talked us into it, gave us a nice check and we signed with Columbia.” It was 1971.
With his career now soundly on track, Dan got his first advance check and moved to Lookout Mountain, in the heart of Laurel Canyon, where his neighbours included the Eagles, and Mark Volman of the Turtles. He lived there for a year and a half, during which time the sunny inspiration that had touched so many of his fellow canyon dwellers began to bring forth a torrent of beautiful new songs in him. He rented a grand piano and entranced nearby neighbours, such a famed photographer Henry Diltz, who heard Dan playing til dawn. ” I remember hearing this incredibly beautiful music echoing through the trees,” Henry recalled, “and I said to my wife, ‘Who is this guy?’” They all soon became fast friends, with Henry taking famous portraits of Dan for many of his album covers.
Now it was time to record his debut album, and Azoff went off in search of the perfect producer for the project. They found him in Nashville. Norbert Putnam was the force behind Area Code 615, a group Dan loved. With Azoff, Dan flew to Nashville to meet Norbert, and instantly fell in love with the town itself: its green trees, lakes and river, and what was then a peaceful laid-back music community, worlds away from the showbiz glitz of Hollywood.
It was one of the happiest times in his life. Norbert found him a place to stay in town “up in the trees,” and the future looked bright. Thanks to Norbert, he got a profusion of session work as a guitarist and singer, perfection then the dazzling studio chops which he’s brought to all his albums since.
“I was only 21 years old and I was part of the band, these maniacs who were amazingly good players. These guys were much better than me, and they pulled me up to their level.” Often working from nine a.m. to midnight, four sessions a day, he acquired a fast and comprehensive foundation in the art of record making. “I learned that it’s not what you play, it’s what you don’t play. That has formed the core of my guitar playing ever since. It’s melodic, it’s sparse.”
The recording of Home Free for him was an easy, non-pressurized time. He and Norbert met every day at the studio, cut all the tracks live, and overdubbed the vocals. “It was great fun. There was no pressure. It wasn’t New York or L.A.” The resulting album was stunningly beautiful, opening with the now classic ‘To The Morning’, a paean to nature that still stands as one of the most timelessly inspirational songs ever written. The album immediately established that he was not only a master tunesmith, but also a purveyor of harmonies so sweetly conveyed that they seemed miraculous, a soulful blend of perfectly tuned, heartfelt vocal harmonies.
Despite its abundant appeal, Home Free failed to generate any hit singles, a setback that Clive attributed to Norbert’s Nashville production job, which he deemed “too country” for Dan’s music. So for the next album, Joe Walsh, the hard-rocking guitar-slinger from the James Gang, was enlisted. Though feeling initially that Walsh was the wrong man for the job, Dan was eventually convinced when he heard a solo album Walsh had recently recorded at Caribou Ranch in Colorado with members of Stephen Stills’ band Manassas.
Dan came to Walsh with a handful of songs he’d written in Los Angeles, as well as a new one that emerged in Nashville called ‘Part Of The Plan’. To choose players for the album, Walsh told him to write down a wish list of dream musicians. The first name he wrote down was that of the legendary Russ Kunkel, whose drumming he’d heard on James Taylor’s records. When Walsh quickly enlisted Kunkel as well as other luminaries including percussionist Joe Lala, bassist Kenny Passarelli, the Eagles’ Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Randy Meisner, and Graham Nash, Dan knew he’d arrived.
The making of Souvenirs in Hollywood was unrestrained fun as the spirit of sunny California combined with Dan’s natural Leo radiance left him feeling fearless. In the studio he always felt at home, rising easily to the level of the L.A. studio cats as he did with the pickers in Nashville. Even when Walsh was on the road, Dan continued to craft the record, adding the guitar solo on ‘Part Of The Plan’ on his own. When Joe heard what Dan had done, he loved it, and quickly convinced Graham Nash to drive over and sing harmonies. The resulting record went to the top of the charts. “That broke the whole thing open. In an instant I went from being an opening act to being a headliner.” Souvenirs, with Walsh at the helm, radiated with Dan’s melodic brilliance as well as proving, on burning tracks like ‘As The Raven Flies’, that the man also knows how to rock.
People should talk about Wild Honey more. When whatever latest exploration of the great albums of the ’60s happens, you can expect certain recurring names — Pet Sounds, naturally, always high on the list. And while it’s not as if Wild Honey is some lost cult classic, it gets unfairly overshadowed by Pet Sounds’ admittedly/justifiably rather long shadow. Wild Honey is basically jams front to back; it’s one of the most endlessly enjoyable ’60s albums I can think of.
“Darlin’” is one of those jams, and probably the most well-known track off of the album. And judging by their new She & Him cover of the song, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward are at least two people thinking about Wild Honey. Deschanel and Ward, like everyone else, are at home and had to put the cover together remotely. But it’s a bit more of a production than most of the quarantine livestreams/Instagram covers/etc. that we’ve been seeing. In fact, there are multiple M. Wards and Zooey Deschanels in the video, playing their different parts and harmonizing; it makes me think of a scenario in which coronavirus is not only causing all of us to exist in lockdown but also causing a tear between multiple realities and thus giving us multiple iterations of She & Him. Wouldn’t that be something.
Concord’s catalog team, Craft Recordings, is proud to welcome Victory Records to its label family. Victory was acquired by Concord in 2019 and their formidable repertoire is now managed by Craft, who also oversees the catalogs of Nitro, Razor & Tie, Stax, Vanguard, Wind-up and more. Signaling a new chapter for the legendary rock, metal, punk and hardcore label, a new Victory Records website launched on May 7th. The site celebrates 30 years of formative music with a line of Victory merchandise featuring both new and throwback designs, as well as special edition vinyl and artist merchandise. Artist pages for all Victory Records alumni will be added as the site expands, so check back for more coming soon.
Victory’s master recording catalog includes artists such as A Day to Remember, Hawthorne Heights, Thursday and Silverstein. The completion of this deal also brings all of Victory’s incredible legacy catalog under one roof at Concord with the likes of Taking Back Sunday, Atreyu, Bayside, Counterparts, and Between the Buried and Me.
Formed in 1989, Victory separated itself from the pack as the definitive independent label for punk, hardcore, emo, metal and alternative. Supplying decades of formative music to diehard audiences everywhere, the Chicago-bred-and-based label cranked up the voices of three generations of iconoclasts and built a culture without compromise.
Victory’s 30 years of enduring music encompasses sales of 15 million records, six RIAA gold-certified full-length albums, six RIAA gold-certified singles, one RIAA platinum-certified single, two BPI silver-certified albums and one Canada Music gold-certified album, in addition to billions of streams as of 2020. From the early days of basement shows, fliers on walls and street teams passing out physical swag during MySpace’s heyday to finally the streaming age, the music of Victory resounds with the same power it did back in the beginning.
In 1989, in suburban Illinois, a 17-year-old Tony Brummel founded the label. From day one, Victory always paid homage to the DIY hardcore spirit of bands throwing down in basements, VFW halls and anywhere with a mosh pit. Throughout the nineties, Brummel’s signings reflected the pulse of the streets and the indie scene at large. Building an artistic-centric platform, Victory served as home to the likes of Earth Crisis and Hatebreed—who unleashed their seminal 1997 breakout Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire on the roster. 2001 represented a major moment for the company with the arrival of Thursday’s Full Collapse. The latter eventually sold over 400,000 copies, with NME going on to credit the influential album as one of “20 Emo Albums That Have Resolutely Stood the Test of Time” and Rolling Stone ranking it high on their list of the “40 Greatest Emo Albums of All Time.”
Tenacious marketing, innovative branding, DIY work ethic and a focus on the music above all defined a golden age for Victory. In 2002, Taking Back Sunday unveiled Tell All Your Friends, which sold 2,300 copies in its first week, enough to make tastemakers take notice. Album sales grew steadily—and mightily—over the course of the year and would be a testament to the grassroots efforts of the band, their fanbase and their label. Thanks to nonstop touring and the emerging power of online communities like Yahoo Groups and MySpace, Taking Back Sunday soon found themselves selling out headlining shows. One year after its release, Tell All Your Friends had surpassed 100,000 units and was certified Gold by 2006. Meanwhile, its 2004 follow-up Where You Want to Be bowed at #3 on the Billboard Top 200, marking Victory’s highest chart debut.
Various other roster acts leapt from Victory’s launchpad to stardom. As part of the roster, Hawthorne Heights served up a pair of gold albums—The Silence in Black and White (2004) and If Only You Were Lonely (2006)—and a gold single “Ohio Is for Lovers.” The group went from tiny gigs to big stages across the country and developed a discography of fan favorites. Leading the metalcore movement, Atreyu flourished on the label with the trifecta of Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses (2002), The Curse (2004) and A Death-Grip on Yesterday (2006). Upon impact, the latter seized #9 on the Billboard Top 200. Among other influential releases, Between the Buried & Me’s 2007 opus Colors would be universally lauded on KERRANG!’s “The 21 Best U.S. Metalcore Albums of All Time,” Prog’s “Top 100 Greatest Prog Albums of All Time” and Loudwire’s “Top 100 Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Albums of the 21st Century” and “Top 25 Progressive Metal Albums of All Time.”
Alongside the band and a fervent audience, Victory helped augment the rise of A Day to Remember into an arena-headlining platinum juggernaut. Coming out of Ocala, FL, with a vengeance, the group pioneered a one-two punch of metal and pop-punk unlike anything else out there. Honing this signature style, the band went on to deliver three gold singles—“All I Want,” “Have Faith in Me” and “I’m Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?”—and the platinum single “If It Means a Lot to You.” Additionally, Homesick (2009) and What Separates Me From You (2010) both reached gold status. Rock Sound pegged Homesick among the “Greatest 101 Albums of the Past 15 Years,” and What Separates Me From You landed at #11 on the Billboard Top 200.
In the end, Victory’s history remains entwined with three decades of impactful and inimitable sounds with worldwide mainstream implications. The underground eventually drives the mainstream.
Craft Recordings looks forward to working with the label’s alumni to preserve the legacies they have built. Stay tuned for more announcements coming soon.
About Craft Recordings Craft Recordings is home to one of the largest and most prestigious collections of master recordings and compositions in the world. Its rich and storied repertoire includes legendary artists such as Joan Baez, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Nine Inch Nails, Thelonious Monk, Otis Redding, R.E.M. and Traveling Wilburys, to name just a few. Renowned imprints with catalogs issued under the Craft banner include Concord Records, Fania, Fantasy, Fearless, Milestone, Musart, Nitro, Prestige, Riverside, Rounder, Specialty, Stax, Sugar Hill, Vanguard, Vee-Jay and Victory, among many others. Craft creates thoughtfully curated packages, with a meticulous devotion to quality and a commitment to preservation—ensuring that these recordings endure for new generations to discover. Craft Recordings is the catalog label team for Concord Recorded Music.
Die-hard Bob Dylan fans have been teased with mysterious, unannounced drops of two new songs over the past two months, leading to speculation that a new album was imminent. Their predictions were correct, as today the songwriter announced a June 19 release of Rough And Rowdy Ways. To further add to the anticipation, one more new song- the six-minute long “False Prophet”- hit digital outlets today.
“False Prophet” is a swaggering, blues-y number, a ‘40s Cab Calloway big band vibe, with guitars in place of horns and a confident Dylan blues-boasting his superiority while surveying over his flock like a big red rooster.
“Hello Mary Lou, hello Miss Pearl… you girls mean business and I do to”
“I’m first among equals/Second to none/The last of the best/You can bury the rest”
“I’m just here to bring vengeance on somebody’s head”
Dylan hasn’t released a new album of original material in eight years. Rough And Rowdy Ways features ten tracks, available in 2-disc CD, 2-LP gatefold vinyl, and digital formats. The record includes the three new songs released this spring: the 17-minute epic “Murder Most Foul,” “I Contain Multitudes” and “False Prophet.” “Murder Most Foul” will likely appear as a stand-alone track on the 2-disc CD, as indicated by the Apple Music track listing below.
“Murder Most Foul” reflected on the Kennedy assassination, with AS writer Lynne Margolis commenting “the Shakespeare of our times not only turns the assassination of President Kennedy into a narrative device, he also rightly depicts it as the defining event that set this country on in its downward spiral, orchestrated by a series of evil schemers conceiving plots of Shakespearean scale.” “I Contain Multitudes” echoed Walt Whitman, with various name-checks and tasty musical chord changes. “False Prophet” takes its musical form from the 1954 Sun Records “If Loving Is Believing” by Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson. Interestingly (at least to musician geeks and music transcribers), all three of the released songs are in the key of C, though each have their own unique feel.
Streaming on-demand this summer is If You Could Read My Mind, a documentary about prolific Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, directed by Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni.
It’s clear he granted Kehoe and Tosoni carte blanche as to what they did with the hours of interviews. Gord’s got stories, a few regrets, and some fans in unlikely places. The film recounts the octogenarian’s nearly 60-year career as “a guy who sang poems,” as actor Alec Baldwin states, and an artist who “speaks with a voice for anyone,” according to Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin.
Also appearing in If You Could Read My Mind are fellow Canadian luminaries such as Rush’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, Anne Murray, and Sarah McLachlan. Steve Earle and Randy Bachman show their faces and sing Gordon’s praises as well, and longtime members of his band offer behind-the-scenes stories.
“Every time I hear a song of his I wish it would last forever.” – Bob Dylan
Maybe they don’t necessarily have an end. Maybe that’s why I have to listen to certain songs on repeat. “The House You Live In,” “Protocol,” “Summertime Dream,” “Minstrel of the Dawn,” and “I’d Do It Again,” just to name a few off the top of my head. But there are many more under-the-radar tunes that showcase his sovereign artistry.
Marty Robbins had a chart-topping hit with Gordon’s “Ribbon of Darkness” in 1965, rendering Lightfoot as one of Canada’s greatest songwriters, given the tremendous success of the single. Johnny Cash, Barbara Streisand, and Elvis Presley were also among some of the artists who recorded “Early Morning Rain,” shining an even brighter spotlight on Lightfoot as a matchless songwriter with unfathomable depths.
Gordon released an album just this past March called Solo, his first in 16 years. He discovered a treasure trove of unreleased material in his Toronto home office, two decades after he recorded them. The songs were written in late 2001 and early 2002, before he suffered a near-fatal abdominal aortic aneurysm later that year.
Watch the official trailer of If You Could Read My Mind below.
One of the struggles songwriters have when it comes to recording their music is capturing the sound. We all know the excitement we feel when a new idea presents itself and the record button is pressed. And it’s a horrible feeling and a painful lesson learned if the playback audio quality is sub-par. There’s a certain magic that happens which sometimes can’t be captured again.
It helps to know even the basic proper recording techniques, especially in today’s climate where many of us are left on our own to record. You don’t want all of your brilliance to only exist in a voice memo.
Exactly how do you record an acoustic guitar? Are there different ways to record an acoustic guitar for pop, blues and singer/songwriter? Does mic placement make a difference? What about going direct into the board?
Universal Audio has all your answers in this video tutorial UAD Tones & Techniques. If you’ve been in a recording studio you’ve undoubtedly seen UA gear somewhere in their setup, whether it’s their legendary 1176LN hardware or industry standard software emulation, an Apollo X6 or X8 recording interface or Apollo Twin for more basic production-ready audio.
Grammy-winning producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon) shows you how he records acoustic guitars in the accompanying video. Along with Nashville session guitar ace and Taylor Guitars artist, Jerry McPherson (Faith Hill, Kelly Clarkson) and UA’s Ben Lindell, King details how he captures professional, soulful-sounding acoustic guitar tracks for three distinctly different genres — singer/songwriter, roots/blues, and pop/rock — using mic placement, careful mic preamp selection, and other tips that will greatly expand your production toolkit.
King walks us through choosing mics, taking into account genre and eventual mix placement, how he selects mic pairs, and how different combinations of microphones and mic positions will give you superior results.
A Nashville vet with credits on thousands of records, Jerry McPherson shows off a variety of Taylor acoustic guitars and details how he chooses different models depending on the vibe of the track. He also details why experimenting with different picks is preferable to EQ tweaking.
Sit back and learn. Your songs will appreciate it!
It is with great regret due to the current situation with COVID-19 Rodney Crowell’s Adventures In Song: Nashville Edition will be postponed until August 5-9, 2021. Clearly as the country grapples with the current public health issues, we don’t want to put anyone in danger or have our wonderful event impacted adversely in any way. Rodney, the wonderful cast of musicians and songwriters, as well as the Dreamcatcher staff are all hugely disappointed by this, but everyone’s physical safety and peace of mind are of paramount importance. So, we’d like to officially announce that Rodney Crowell’s Adventure in Song will now be held at the Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville from August 5-9, 2021. From Rodney, “We think it’s in everyone’s best interest to push the camp to August next year for everyone’s safety. As much as we hate to do this, there is just no way to get around the fact that this is the right choice to make. Lets get at it again next year when we all have a clear heart and clear mind. Everyone be well and see you next Summer!” Registration is still open – CLICK HERE. Visit: https://rodneycrowelladventuresinsong.com
Like many people with grade-school kids, Dierks Bentley and his family were on spring break when everything began shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The five of them had traveled to Colorado for skiing and hiking, and remained there for several weeks as schools switched to online learning and Bentley’s touring obligations were all postponed indefinitely. Bentley and his family have since returned to Nashville; we caught up with him while he was still out West and asked him a few of our quarantine questions.
What are you doing with your unexpected time at home? I’ve been with my family for a month, just the five of us. No one else has stepped into our house. But corona with kids is a whole other level. And luckily my kids are at an age — 6, 9, and 11 — they’re at a pretty good age to be homebound. They’re self-sufficient but not overly missing their friends, as 8th graders and up probably would be and are. It’s been awesome family time, trying to find the silver lining for us, but super conscious of how hard this is for so many families out there, so many couples. There’s a dark side to this stuff too, with kids who are being abused at home. It can go to so many places. I just feel very blessed to be here with my family and I know it won’t be like this forever, so we’re just making the most of the time together, getting outdoors and doing adventures when we can, just staying safe.
What kind of music do you turn to in times of crisis for comfort, and why? For me, I love bluegrass music, so Tim O’Brien. Sam Bush radio is pretty good on Spotify. My kids have a lot of control over the radio so we listen to a lot of Lizzo, a lot of Maggie Rogers, a lot of Sia. A lot of pop stuff. But if I’m out here on the front porch, I’m just out here messing around with a mandolin or something. I’m playing music. If I’m listening, it’s mostly acoustic based stuff.
It looked like it was still pretty cold outside for your performance for the “ACM Presents: Our Country” special. Oh yeah, there’s still snow. There’s snow everywhere right now. I just hiked up the mountain this morning right before I called you. I saw a lot of snow left. But it’s weird here. When it’s 50 degrees here, it feels like 85 in Nashville. Right now it’s 30 degrees, but it feels like it’s 60. It’s hot. I think it’s being so high up — the elevation is about 9000 feet — it just feels hotter when the temperature’s a bit lower. I came out here for spring break and everything hit and there’s no work and no school and no ability to socialize. It was like, well, I don’t see a point in going back to Nashville. I just wanted to stay in place, do what the officials are asking us to do, avoiding unnecessary travel. It was like, well, we’ll just stay here.
Anything else you want to say to your fans right now? I’m just worried about people. The stress, the financial stress that some people must be going through. Conversations around the dinner table worried about paying rent, mortgages and all that. I hope everyone is hanging in there, and hopefully we’ll all… my manager was working on a Nashville Rising event for the tornado and all of a sudden this hit. We’re gonna come together and try to help everyone out with our country family. I just hope everyone’s hanging in there.