Monthly Archives: February 2020


Never heard of La Roux, and they apparently haven’t been around for half a decade. Is this record a worthy comeback? Not really, no.

Juicy J Blasts His Record Label on Diss Track ‘Fuk Columbia Records’

Juicy J has dropped the new diss track “Fuk Columbia Records,” which features the Three 6 Mafia rapper blasting his record label.

The track, uploaded onto Soundcloud Saturday, follows a series of tweets Juicy J fired late Friday that accused the label of withholding his music as well as taking credit for his work, Variety reported., adding that the rapper also called out Columba chairman and CEO Ron Perry in an Instagram story. Columbia Records did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.

“I gave @ColumbiaRecords 20+ years of my life & they treat me like back wash,” Juicy J tweeted prior to releasing the track. “Fuk @ColumbiaRecords I’m gonna leak my whole album stay tuned.”

The rapper also changed his Twitter avatar to an image of Prince with the word “Slave” handwritten on his cheek, a nod to that singer’s war with Warner Bros. over two decades ago; the “Fuk Columbia Records” artwork also bears the Prince photo, and the track samples Prince’s Soul Train Awards speech from 2000:

“Fuck Columbia Records, tell them bitches count their days / Since I have all these chains, they must think a nigga a slave,” Juicy J says on the track. “Juicy ain’t no ho / If I waited on Columbia, then I’d be out here broke / I sold albums, sold out tours, but I never sold my soul.”

Juicy J also issued a warning to fellow artists of Columbia, “They throw a contract in your face, want you to sign your life away. Fuck ’em.”

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Roddy Ricch – “The Box” Video

Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” is the #1 song in the country right now. This is its seventh non-consecutive week atop the Billboard Hot 100. And it wasn’t even originally released as a single.

Up until now, “The Box” had no music video. But now, Roddy Ricch is capitalizing on the song’s viral success by finally dropping some visuals that he co-directed with Christian Breslauer. Racing, basketball, sharks — the “The Box” video has it all.

The Compton sing-rapper also launched his home décor company, Ricch Essentials, this week. The line’s debut item, naturally, is a welcome mat that says “Bitch Don’t Wear No Shoes In My House.” Watch the “The Box” video below.

Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial is out now.

Albert Cummings – Believe

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Born in Massachusetts, Albert Cummings has been putting his stamp on the blues scene for over a decade. On Valentine’s Day, Cummings released his newest offering, Believe, via Provogue Records.

Albert’s gritty guitar sound has always been amazing. And on Believe, it will blow you away. If you’re any kind of blues fan, this album is for you.

Believe hooks you right away, with Cummings’ cover of Sam & Dave’s Stax classic, “Hold On.” Albert’s soulful vocals and guitar intermix with some killer B3 and horns to keep that vintage vibe relevant nearly six decades later.

Albert accomplished the same thing with “Red Rooster,” taking the Willie Dixon standard and turning it into an electric slow-drag — and again by tipping his hat to Van the Man, with a powerful rendition of “Crazy Love.” Even “My Babe” gets a funk-slathered update that’s good enough to pour over biscuits.

Believe was recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and produced by GRAMMY winner Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana). “You can hear the difference between this album and my others, and that is the Muscle Shoals difference,” Cummings says. “If I had recorded those same songs anywhere else, then Believe would have sounded like a completely different album.”

It’s no secret that Stevie Ray has been Cummings’ biggest influence, and you can hear that impact throughout the album while Albert hops genres. Even though he is from “The Pilgrim State,” Albert’s feel for the blues is real, and his playing can stand against anyone’s from Texas to Chicago to Memphis.

Bravo, Mr. Cummings. Believe is a must-have.

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Artist: Albert Cummings

Title: Believe

Label: Provogue Records

Release Date: February 14, 2020

Running Time: 43:19

Albert Cummings

Tin Pan South Announces Its Run of Events for the World’s Biggest Songwriting Festival

The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), in partnership with Regions Bank for the 13th consecutive year, is excited to announce additional details surrounding one of the most anticipated events in Nashville each year – the 28th annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival. Taking place March 24th through the 28th, 2020, this year’s festival will not only feature performances from a diverse array of musical talent spanning across different genres, but the entire week will be filled with a variety of events for established songwriters as well as rising stars!

Tin Pan South full festival lineup will be revealed tomorrow, February 25th, at 10 a.m. on At the same time, the festival’s Fast Access Passes will go on sale. Prices for the 2020 Fast Access Passes are as follows:

$160 – General Public

$135 – NSAI Members

$120 – Attendees of the Tin Pan South Songwriting Seminar

This year, Tin Pan South’s extensive lineup will not only include 5 nights of back-to-back shows in 10 venues, but daytime programming at the Country Music Hall of Fame Thursday – Saturday, an NSAI open house, a Whiskey Jam takeover, the first annual Member Awards presented by Regions Bank, and one of NSAI’s premier educational events, Tin Pan South Songwriting Seminar!

Since its inception, the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival has offered audiences a platform to discover up-and-coming songwriters and watch legends at work. Past festivals have featured stellar performances by Lori McKenna, Thomas Rhett, RaeLynn, Josh Osborne, and many more.

On March 5th, Tin Pan will unveil this year’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum programming (which will take place each afternoon from March 26th to the 28th), as well as open up reservations for the series. The festival will also reveal the lineup for the Whiskey Jam takeover.


March 23rd – Tin Pan South will kick off the 2020 festival with a Whiskey Jam takeover, giving attendees a taste of what to expect for the upcoming week.

March 23rd-24th  – Tin Pan South Songwriting Seminar offering an opportunity to learn from over a dozen industry professionals (including several songwriters who will be performing later in the week during the festival!)

March 25th –NSAI will host an Open House at its location on Music Row from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

March 26th – In an invitation-only event, NSAI will hold its first Member Awards (presented by Regions Bank). First-year honors include awards voted by NSAI’s global membership and select honorees recognized by NSAI staff members.

March 26th-28th – Afternoon programming at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum beginning at 2:00pm each day.

In its 28 years, the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival has served as a platform for NSAI to celebrate the songwriting community in Nashville and beyond. This year’s festival will include 100 shows taking place across 10 Nashville-area venues, which will include:

Analog at Hutton Hotel – Stage Presented By: Tennessee Entertainment Commission

The Bluebird Cafe

Cross-Eyed Critters Watering Hole

Douglas Corner Cafe – Stage Presented By: American Songwriter

Fat Kat Slim’s

The Listening Room – Stage Presented By: Nashville Music City

The Lounge at City Winery Nashville

NashHouse Southern Spoon and Saloon

3rd and Lindsley Nashville – Stage Presented By: Mid-South Ford

True Music Room and Bar – Stage Presented By: Aloompa

For additional information and upcoming announcements about performers and venues, check or download the Tin Pan South app.

Dan Wolf – Chicago Fret Works

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Dan Wolf, co-owner of Chicago Fret Works, has worked on thousands of guitars over the last 22 years in Chicago alongside partner Steve Baker. Players, collectors, and enthusiasts from around the country have turned to Dan for their most challenging and difficult guitar repairs. He began learning his craft in 1996 at Red Wing Technical College (Now Minnesota State College- Southeast Technical) in Red Wing Minnesota. Dan has worked guitars from the following artists: Wilco, Dwight Yoakam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, and Dave Specter.

L-R Steve Baker, Dwight Yoakam, Dan Wolf

Brant Buckley:

How long have you been fixing guitars and how did you get into musical instrument restoration?

Dan Wolf:

It started with going to Red Wing Technical College. Believe it or not it’s a guitar building college. Guitar building schools are much more popular nowadays. It’s an accredited college where you learn how to build guitars. I went there for a couple of years after high school. I had a great time there. I was thinking I was going to be doing it for fun and perhaps afterwards go to a university and get a college degree and try to make my mom happy. It was the first time I was ever really good in a classroom. You learn how to build guitars which is a completely different world than repairing guitars. It just kind of morphed into repair work. I lived in Quebec City for a few months trying to build guitars with a builder by being an apprentice. It didn’t really work out and I missed living in Chicago and I moved back. My roommate at the time talked me into going into Guitar Center and seeing if they needed a repairman. I was thrown into the world of guitar repair and learning on the fly. It seems like twenty years have flown by.

When did you open Chicago Fret Works?

Steve Baker and I opened up the shop in early 2008. We both worked at another shop in town. I worked there for close to eleven years and Steve worked for six years. We became friends outside of the shop and became comfortable enough discussing the possibility of opening up our own shop. We just jumped off the cliff. It was crazy, scary, and exciting. We did it and haven’t looked back.

What’s the coolest guitar that has come through the store?

We do work for Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. He has an enormous vintage guitar collection. Steve and I really like vintage stuff from the 60’s and 70’s. If instruments from the 50’s come in that aren’t in terrible shape, that’s extra fun. We are lucky to work on a lot of guitars through Wilco and other customers. They keep us busy with a heaping supply of cool guitars to work on including a 1952 Les Paul Goldtop. These guitars are close to being museum pieces because of their rarity and significance in the electric guitar world. A lot of old Gibsons and Martins from the 50’s and 60’s have come in. Those are our favorite guitars. It’s funny the old vintage guitars are the most fun, coolest, and happen to be the easiest to work on because they’re designed to be taken apart to some degree. Especially the acoustic stuff. Modern guitars aren’t designed to be taken apart as much as the vintage stuff because they are almost disposable. Like everything else in the world, they used to make them better. As a repair tech whenever I see a case that I know has a vintage guitar in it, I get pretty excited because I know it’s going to be fun and it’s also going to be easy to work on. People who built these guitars had in mind they would be repaired in the future.

What’s the hardest part when dealing with fixing vintage instruments?

The hardest part about fixing vintage instruments is making sure you keep them as original as possible. Originality is a huge thing that is drilled into our heads when we are learning how to do this stuff. It’s a big no no to do certain things like refinishing vintage guitars or replacing unnecessary parts. It sounds easy enough but when something needs to get repaired it becomes tricky to make sure everything stays as original as possible.

How many guitars do you work on each day? What’s a typical day look like?

I would guess we complete anywhere between 10-20 guitars a day. My typical day revolves around managing my employees and making sure business gets taken care of. Along with my business partner Steve we share the duties. I take on the majority of teaching employees how to do certain things and they are all at different levels and they all do different types of jobs. I make sure things run smoothly. Every single day some surprise comes up and it’s not always a fun surprise. Steve and I either have to put out a fire or react to something that unexpectedly happened. We like to talk to customers and get to know them and their needs. I do have my own projects that I am working on that are the more difficult ones we do. I always have three to four really difficult projects going on. I try and split the time with everything else I mentioned.

If there is one guitar (artist’s guitar) you could work on which one would you choose and why?

We get that all the time and I always never know what to say. Wilco is a friend of the shop and we also like their music. We are ecstatic that we get to work on their guitars. If you were to tell me ten years ago I was going to be working on so many of Wilco’s instruments, I would be really psyched. We don’t take it for granted. I don’t think my favorite artists will ever make it in the shop. I am a big fan of Frank Black, Stephen Malkmus and A.C. Newman of The New Pornographers. If these guys came in the shop I would be pretty damn excited to work on their guitars.

What else do you want to accomplish?

I am pretty focused on my employees becoming really good at this. Teaching these guys how to do this work is my motivation right now. Money isn’t and shouldn’t be a big motivator in this line of work. I want to continue teaching my employees to be the best guitar tech they can be. That is really important to me. It is really rewarding work that you can’t get in other fields: finishing products, seeing a happy customer get a guitar back that they had sentimental attachment to, and working with your hands. All of the people who do this kind of work are artists whether they know it or not. Refinishing a guitar to make it look like it is from the 50’s and 60’s and recreating everything is an art form. You need to be into art to enjoy this job.

Chicago Fret Works

*Photos by Steve Baker

Song Premiere – Carla Olson w/ Percy Sledge “Honest As Daylight”

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American Blues Scene brings you the premiere of “Honest As Daylight,” by Carla Olson with R&B/Soul legend Percy Sledge. The song comes from Olson’s newest offering of duets, Have Harmony, Will Travel 2, which arrives from Sunset Blvd. Records on March 20.

This album from Olson, the Austin, Texas-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter-producer features duets with 11 guests, and is a successor to 2013’s Have Harmony, Will Travel, which found her collaborating vocally with such artists as Peter Case, Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield), John York (the Byrds), Scott Kempner (the Del-Lords), and Juice Newton.

Like the previous collection, Have Harmony, Will Travel 2 was inspired by Olson’s youthful days as an aspiring musician, when she marveled at the diverse sounds she heard on Austin’s top-40 station KNOW. For this follow-up she teams with not only Percy Sledge, but also Stephen McCarthy of the Long Ryders, Gene Clark of the Byrds, Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, Terry Reid, Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles, and more.

L-R Rick Hemmert, Carla Olson, Mick Taylor, Percy Sledge. Photo: Gary Nichamin…From Carla Olson scrapbook

“‘Honest As Daylight’ began as a set of lyrics written by Textones drummer Rick Hemmert which Bobby McDonald and I composed music for,” Carla told us. “Having two legends participate in the recording was more than we could have imagined – soul man Percy Sledge and former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor. I’m glad it’s getting a second lease on life.”

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Carla Olson

James McMurtry Enchants with Thoughtful Catalog

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Saturday, February 22, at Old Town School of Folk Music – The show opener, singer/songwriter Peter Oren, thrilled with his deep baritone, compelling guitar work and friendly demeanor. His set included a dreamy tribute to clouds and some clever call-outs to cows. Oren, who lives in rural Indiana, waxed rhapsodic about freeing himself from overwhelming social media, “phones and stuff.” His “Gnawed to the Bone (Come By)” got an especially good response.

Peter Oren

James McMurtry’s 2015 masterpiece was entitled “Complicated Game.” He’s a darn wizard when it comes to composing chilling narratives, such as the spooky-titled, “Where’d You Hide the Body.” These references might make one believe this Texan’s the consummate tortured soul, one on the verge of a nervous breakdown, yet when this singer-songwriter-guitarist stands in front of the Old Town School admirers, he comes off pretty much as everyman.

James McMurtry

Of course, “everyman” can’t do what McMurtry does on a consistent basis all across America and beyond on his ambitious tours, which take him from the big skies of Bozeman to Baton Rouge, Jackson, and Petaluma. And luckily for Midwesterners, one of the most prominent teaching centers in Chicago: the Old Town School of Folk Music.

McMurtry’s true-blue fans are the kind who do their homework. And that’s the kind of hard work that pays off, as the beauty of already being acquainted with a performer’s repertoire is that the fan gets to soak up the stories and genuinely enjoy the nuances.

And last night there were many nuances to enjoy. His massive set list included rough-hewn, tender and sometimes cynical homages to everything from “crystal meth,” an “Airstream trailer” and a “Holstein cow,” courtesy of “Choctaw Bingo.” Gulfs between generations were underscored in “Copper Canteen,” virtue of powerful imagery: “We grew up hard and our children don’t know what that means.” Certainly that line struck a bittersweet chord with the older patrons; and of course, the epic plea, “Honey, don’t you be yelling at me when I’m cleaning my gun” just seems designed to fire up the coolest senses.

McMurtry was dressed head-to-toe in denim — his long, dark hair and steady gaze contributing heavily to his cool, confident, tough-guy with a soft-center image. He focused completely on the task at hand, tearing off song and song, often with poker-faced comments in-between. All the while, he conflates tragedy with humor. Even as he tuned an acoustic guitar (switching between two), he made damn sure the fourth wall was kept down. And although it was easy to drift and get blissfully lost in his tuneful conversations, his fine instrumental work was of equal import and deserved full attention as he finessed beautiful tones and allowed for striking hammer-ons and pull-offs from his twelve-string. The sound, overseen by musician/soundman Tim Holt, was also superb.

Anyone who has heard McMurtry play with a full ensemble (Austin locals get to hear him weekly), or on his multi-layered albums, might wonder how it feels for the man to play unplugged for several hours solo. Does he consider it a challenge to perform the fierce, rockabilly-infused “Choctaw Bingo” without the support of a dynamic rhythm section? Perhaps for some. But McMurtry, an accomplished instrumentalist who strummed his first guitar at age seven, tore up and down that fretboard with extreme vigor — keeping the beat, wailing catchy phrases, and balancing harmonic highs and lows with precision.

Venturing into the arena of love, a songwriting topic recommended by his grandmother, he garnered lots of appreciation for “These Things I’ve Come to Know,” which illustrates how opposites can still attract even when the odds are against it: “She likes the two-step, she likes to waltz,” he sang, but soon added, “I can’t dance a lick but sometimes I can flat rock and roll.”

“Red Dress” stood in warm contrast to the other material — a heady mix of blues and grit. In his quieter rendition of the winsome “No More Buffalo,” his austere tale spoke volumes about our current state of environmental gloom. And as for pure linear craft, the vocal drone of “Levelland” was beyond moving. “State of the Union” probably got the biggest reaction. Although the words can apply to any time in history, the message may strike some as especially potent now.

As for other inspirational/political anthems, the one surprise was that McMurtry failed to play “We Can’t Make It Here,” a brainstorm that intrepidly describes the despair of so many Americans and that has fueled campaigns.

That said, McMurtry gave his all. Even after holding court for such a long time alone, he graciously returned to the stage after a passionate standing ovation. At one point, he mentioned a concert where the audience was less than appreciative. “They’re idiots,” yelled a fan. Yeah, I’d say that’s true.

*All photos © Philamonjaro

Reuben And The Dark Live at Schubas Chicago

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Reuben and the Dark returned to Chicago’s North Side, bringing their brand of indie folk rock one of the city’s favorite music clubs, Schubas Tavern. Fronted by Calgary’s Reuben Bullock, the band played to a small but devout room of fans.

With the recent release of UN | LOVE they played new songs including the title track and “Faultline.” The band is out playing select dates thru mid-March, so catch them if they are near you.

Reuben Bollock

*All photos © Philamonjaro

Herb Alpert Documentary Sets Theatrical Release

Over the last 60 years, trumpeter-vocalist Herb Alpert has scored 14 platinum albums, co-founded A&M Records (the home to Janet Jackson, the Police and Peter Frampton) and become a major philanthropist; his foundation has donated millions to arts education programs ranging from the Harlem School of Arts to UCLA.

Alpert’s story will be told in Herb Alpert Is…, a new film directed by John Scheinfeld (whose previous films include Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary and The U.S. vs John Lennon.) The film has been picked up by the independent distributors Abramorama; it will hit theaters beginning May 5th, with a one-night world premiere event at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. A release says the film will  trace “Alpert’s personal and creative journey that reveals the critical events, experiences and challenges that have shaped an extraordinary life and instilled deep within the Grammy-winning trumpeter the desire to make a difference each and every day.”

Fellow legends appear in the film, too: Sting calls him a “cultural icon.” Questlove calls him “funky.” Lou Adler calls him “the coolest person in the room.”

“Herb is a true artist who did things the right way, achieved success on his own terms and brought much joy to the world in the process,” Scheinfeld says. “ I wanted to make a documentary that would reflect this and, most importantly, to be a ‘Feel Good’ film that will uplift, inspire and bring audiences together exactly as does Herb’s music.”

Added Abramorama CEO Richard Abramowitz: “It’s our great honor to celebrate the man who outsold the Beatles in 1966 and co-founded the most successful independent record label in history on his way to supporting artists and students young and old around the world. Herb Alpert is a renaissance man of the highest order.”

While he’s looking back on his life, Alpert is not done making music. His latest album, 2019’s Over the Rainbow, debuted at Number One on the Billboard Jazz and Contemporary Jazz album charts. Alpert begins a North American tour in Arizona Wednesday with Lani Hall.

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