Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie and Savages vocalist Jehnny Beth are teaming up for a collaborative album. Inspired by classic country soul duets like Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris’ “Grievous Angel” and George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s “We Go Together,” they got together to record Utopian Ashes, a concept album about the slow disintegration of a failing marriage. Fun stuff! Read more ›
Today, Andrew Bird announces his first headline, in-person show of 2021. After more than a year of live-streaming from various locations for his pandemic-inspired Performance Now! series, Bird will return to his Chicagoland hometown on September 24th for a momentous night outside at Ravinia Festival.
The career-spanning concert will see Bird performing fan favorites, joining together with Jimbo Mathus to play songs from their recently-released These 13 LP, and reuniting with the Bowl of Fire, his formative band of fellow Chicago-bred musicians. The event will feature support from Chicago’s own The Flat Five (Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough and Alex Hall), and the full Ravinia season lineup is available here.
Tickets go on sale July 21, after a fan club presale beginning July 16. Sign up for reminders and access here, and find more information here.
Watch Andrew Bird reminisce on his high school days as a Ravinia ticket taker in a brand new, solo performance of his Stéphane Grappelli-inspired song, “Dora Goes To Town.”
In the meantime, Andrew Bird has also made the archives to all five of his Performance Now! live-streams available to rent via Vimeo. Fans can revisit Bird’s series of hi-fi, hi-res remote concerts from the orange groves of Ojai to Old Style Guitar Shop, including a split bill with Madison Cunningham, a 15th Anniversary tribute to Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs, a reimagined version of his annual Gezelligheid show — plus last month’s event with Jimbo Mathus, full of their classic Squirrel Nut Zippers collaborations and the brand new songs of These 13.
Ahead of his anticipated arrival at Ravinia, Andrew Bird will have additional live shows to announce, including another special performance with Jimbo Mathus. To learn more about their close and creative friendship, watch the documentary on These 13, taking viewers behind the scenes of an album that the two of them have been wanting to make for twenty years.
Memphis Moonlight, the fifth studio album by singer songwriter and vocal powerhouse Deb Ryder, is undoubtedly her best effort yet. This ever-rising blues diva shows she is in stellar form delivering superior lyrics and musical arrangements on all thirteen original songs. Produced by Grammy Award and Blues Music Award winner Tony Braunagel, Co-Producer and Executive Producer Ric W. Ryder, this record covers a myriad of styles from blues to roots, both traditional and contemporary, and proves why she deserves her many accolades!
Ryder is once again supported by an impressive list of all-star musicians including Tony Braunagel, Johnny Lee Schell, Mike Finnigan. Travis Carlton, Pieter van/der Pluijm, Joe Sublett, Mark Pender, Ronnie Earl, and Alastair Greene.
Today we bring you the exclusive world premiere of her new song “Second Chances” from the album.
A high-stepping West Coast Tejano Blues track about a friendship gone bad, “Second Chances” is brought to life by Los Lobos artists David Hidalgo – Accordion, Steve Berlin – Saxophone , The Delgado Brothers Joey Delgado – Guitar and Steve Delgado – Background Vocals, Johnny Lee Schell – Guitar and Background Vocals, Travis Carlton – Bass, Mike Finnigan – B3 and Tony Braunagel – Drums.
For the two featured artists of the month of May, American Blues Scene brings you Erin Duffy (she/her) and Jane Justice (she/her). These two women have experienced isolation through trauma to overcome a pandemic of their own volition by taking the madness life dealt them and making it beautiful through art.
Two women, two artists, that do not know each other yet have both harnessed their physical limitations through art. It has been said, when it comes to creating art, you mustn’t hide the madness. Yet we do hide so much in this masked world of isolation today. To have faith, be bold, and keep progressing is an act of courageousness.
Erin Duffy (she/her): After high school, she and three bandmates packed up and toured with their band Under the Willow for four and a half years. Within the course of that decade, she packed up came home began teaching music and started a family. She continues to write and perform music with her new band, State of the City.
While Under the Willow had a more Americana stamp, State of the City takes on a whole new feel. Her signature vocal stylings are universal while what instrument she is tinkering today may be a mystery. Currently focused on violin, it will be interesting to see which instrument her son Django will pick up someday.
Jane Justice (she/her): As a member of the SheWolf Sacred community, Jane is a dancer and performer in the group. She is also a healer and vibrational therapist, practitioner of singing bowl sound baths. Jane is a mother of a young son and every day they practice gratitude exercises. Very consciously, Jane tries to exemplify for her son what a strong woman and a strong man’s role in this new world will look like.
Besides their traditional use for meditation, Tibetan singing bowls are used for deep relaxation and muscle regeneration, to relieve pain in the joints, muscles, and shoulders, to ease pain related to sciatica, the digestive system, headaches, and migraine or spine injuries, to improve circulation, release tensions or blockages, to open the energy flow, eliminate the toxins from the body. In so many ways, Jane’s bowls can echo the sound of Erin’s voice. Although these women have never met, we can see that in art – it is important not to hide the madness.
“I made it. Out of my own personal pandemic. From the depths of my microcosmic quasi quarantine, I made it. 12+ years ago, I was terrified of the future, so much so that I couldn’t even fathom one. And just like we’re seeing with the pandemic now, my psychological dis-ease manifested into physical disease. I was told I’d have to amputate my legs at one point. I wasn’t going to walk again, I had a staph infection, autious mikaitis, chronic anemia. It was just one thing after another. I felt like I was losing everything. Imagine that — I was so afraid of the future, I literally almost lost my ability to take another step forward at all. Really what was happening was that things were being moved out of my way that were no longer serving me. I had to figure out how to amputate my fears instead of my limbs.” – Jane Justice
“I grew up In an intense environment but I remember feeling flow when I sang/played music, and from a very young age I knew I wanted to pursue musical endeavors. My favorite place to write music used to be the passenger seat of a moving vehicle but now it’s at work. When all the rooms are filled with people with their instruments it gets chaotic. Drums, violin, banjo, piano. It’s noisy and I like writing around that energy.” -Erin Duffy
The flow theory of creativity is not a rigid unchanging state. It is finding yourself wherever you are and channeling yourself to the muse. Mihály Csikszentmihalyi developed the term “flow state” because many of the people he interviewed described their optimal states of performance as instances when their work simply flowed out of them without much effort.
“Having enough guts in my young twenties to get rid of most of my stuff to travel/tour. Overcoming the label of “having a disability.” The weight of a label can way on you…I don’t even like mentioning it much. People just think I’m drunk, or have MS or whatever but yeah I have CP. There are so many things that happen to your mind and body after carrying and birthing a baby. All of that is demystified for me now, glad I’m over that hill.” -Erin Duffy
“Pain pushes until vision pulls. So we will keep being pushed until the vision pulls us in a more forward direction. I think we are all where we need to be, respectively. If someone is putting something on me that doesn’t belong to me, that is a huge trigger for me. Any kind of hostility, being really loud and angry, makes me want to crawl up into a ball and hide. Or I might just yell back. I think it’s people taking ownership of who they are or not doing that, constantly pointing the finger outward. That triggers me” – Jane Justice
“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.” – Nietzsche
Healing is messy. The redemptive power of art can restore faith in even the harshest of cynics. Refuse to inherit dysfunction. When we learn new ways of living instead of repeating what we have lived through, we create new neural pathways that can indeed bloom the compassion flower inside us once again. A woman who heals herself heals everyone around them. Doesn’t that sound like the power of live music?
“That realization that you can be okay at a bunch of stuff or really great at one thing hit me so for the last 14 years I’ve pretty much only explored art through music. I’ve lost focus though and that is why I like to play around with different instruments. I’ve accepted that I’m not trying to be amazing at any one instrument but just good enough to tap into that flow where the world gets quiet except for the sounds I’m playing or singing. I become unaware of my body’s movements, hyper-focused yet free at the same time.” – Erin Duffy
“When that dynamic fell apart, it took me a few years to really mourn the loss of the living in terms of being estranged from my family but after a certain amount of time, I still think now about it sometimes. I couldn’t live my life if my family as I knew them were in the forefront. Gratitude will get you everywhere.
“When I was in the hospital I was on sensory overload. It was very difficult to get through that time. It was also very humbling and a great reminder too, I was grateful to go outside and breathe fresh air. Things that I would be angry about years before, some things like, if it is raining or snowing or what. If I can just go outside and be in nature… I will be happy.” – Jane Justice
What bridges us from a place of madness to a place of flow? The expression of humanity that unites us all is music. The Earth has music for those that will listen. Using the talents these women were given and developing the skills that catch their curiosities, Music will lead us through the madness and into the bliss of flow.
“Evolving all along. There are core parts of me that have never changed, but I like recognizing and accepting the ebb and flow of things in myself and the people around me. I mean some people will never change but I’m not one of those people.” -Erin Duffy
“As a mother & a healer, I’ve brought wellness classes & workshops to various schools (from daycares to high schools & beyond) for many years now, but such privileges should be available to All. The Dali Lama said that if every 8 year old learned to meditate, we’d have world peace within a generation. I tend to think he’s right. I’ve lived a few too many lives in my lifetime, I think. I’m not done yet.
“I think we all start out as this beautiful representation of divine love and then a lot of things happen that maybe take away from that or we forget our spiritual nature. We have to unlearn some of that, in addition to learning things over time. Certainly, it’s been a journey over time.” – Jane Justice
The Association for Cultural Equity is rolling out an array of updates and additions to The Global Jukebox, which was launched in 2017. The Jukebox was originally conceived by the musicologist and folklorist Alan Lomax (1915-2002) and over the last ten years brought to fruition by anthropologist Anna Lomax Wood (Lomax’s daughter) and multimedia designer Gideon D’Arcangelo. It is a space to connect with our deep heritage through the expressive arts of singing, dancing, and conversing, and is dedicated to the world’s peoples and cultures, and to their models (ideals) of beauty, and forms of communicating and bonding.
The Jukebox is an expanding database of traditional folk, indigenous, and popular songs from cultures around the world with over 6000 songs from 1200 cultures and examples for every region and all peoples. It beckons to all as the inheritors of many traditions, and invites the curious music lover, students of all ages, teachers, professors, musicologists, ethnochoreologists, scientists and researchers to discover its treasures. Access is free to all.
Since its launch in 2017, the Jukebox has been redesigned. New features include a Playlist function, Patterns and Similarities applications, Search functions by cultures, country, language, people, song name, genre, artist, instruments, historical subsistence and more. More than 800 popular songs and 50 Latin American folk songs have been added. A new Education section includes graded Lesson Plans created by internationally known music educators, folklorists, and social historians. Find Your Musical Roots engages students and other learners. A Central Menu, FAQ and Guide can take you through the site.
Visitors to the Global Jukebox can experience songs or dances on the map or the cultures and peoples wheel. They can investigate a geographic region, its cultures and their songs and dances. Each item is accompanied by information on the song, artists, culture, recording context, collector, and archival references. Users can also take specialist-curated “Journeys’, or guided tours ,of a musical style, the songs of a region, a people or of some quiet corner of our planet.
Through data visualized on the Global Jukebox, visitors can explore relationships between expressive systems and the pathways of people, song and movement styles across the globe. Through queries and analyses they can uncover patterns in the geographic distribution of particular expressive traits, and connections between the expressive arts and social factors.
The cultural and song metadata have been expanded and upgraded and the primary data substantially cleaned and corrected, an ongoing process. The possibilities for research and analysis have vastly increased through collaborations with the Comparative Music Lab at Keio University SFC (Japan), and D-Place.org, a Database of Place, Languages, Culture, and Environment at the University of Toronto. D-Place is connected to the Max Planck Research Institute in Switzerland.
In May, 2021, seven of the Jukebox’s datasets–Cantometrics, Instrument Study, Ensemble Study, Urban Strain, Minutage, Phonotactics, and Parlametrics–will be released to the scientific and scholarly communities for research via D-Place and public repositories.
*Feature image: Alan Lomax (right) with musician Wade Ward during the Southern Journey recordings, 1959-1960.Shirley Collins/Courtesy of Alan Lomax Archive
Foo Fighters recently performed at Global Citizen’s VAX Live: The Concert To Reunite The World alongside Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, J Balvin, and H.E.R. The event itself took place last weekend at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles to an audience of over 20,000 vaccinated frontline healthcare and essential workers; it was broadcast via a livestream for the rest of the world to see last night. Read more ›
Featuring songs by Tom Petty, John Lennon, The Beatles, Tom Waits, Peter Case, Eels, Paul McCartney, Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Al Jolson& Rhianna
There’s a dream I keep having where my mama comes to me And kneels down over by the window, and says a prayer for me from “Southern Accents” by Tom Petty
And I’m thinking ’bout Mama and about the kids And the way we lived and the things we did from “Something Good Coming” by Tom Petty
Mother, you had me, but I never had you from “Mother” by John Lennon
I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles, my Mammy! from “My Mammy” by Donaldson & Young
From Al Jolson through The Eels, songs about mothers have flourished. Whether direct and specific, symbolic, mysterious, universal, sad, funny or mysterious, the subject of mothers is one that recurs through the annals of popular music in so many ways. Many songwriters write about their own mothers, while others write of the symbolic mother. Most – whether intentionally or not – do both.
Songwriters have been writing about mothers and motherhood through the generation, and in so many different ways. Some are direct and specific, such as Lennon’s “Mother,” while McCartney, in “Let It Be,” is indirect and ambiguous, singing to “Mother Mary” in a holy way, evoking the Virgin Mary and his own mother Mary.
Tom Petty does both in his songs, using his real mother as a symbol of hope and endurance, in “Southern Accents” and “Something Good.”
And I’m thinking ’bout mama, and about the kids And the way we lived and the things we did How she never had a chance, never caught a break And how we pay for our big mistakes
from “Something Good Coming” by Tom Petty
Merle Haggard also brings his real mother into a song as a symbol of real love in “Mama Tried,” A true song about how his mom tried to keep him out of trouble – and jail – and failed. Dylan, too, does both and more – singing of mothers directly and poetically – from “Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind” through “It’s Alright Ma (“I’m Only Bleeding)” and most recently, the mother of all creation and art, “Mother of Muses.”
Paul Simon sings of motherhood in a few songs, most mysteriously in “Mother and Child Reunion,” and with dark humor in “That’s Why God Made The Movies.”
Rihanna’s great hit “Umbrella,” although seeimngly directed to a lover or a friend, was written for a mom. Terius “Dream” Nash told us he wrote the lyrics in the aftermath of his mother’s death, and his realization that no earthly things could reach her anymore, as in the lyric: “Cause in the dark/you can’t see shiny cars.”
There’s also Eels’ beautiful, sad and great “Mother Mary” by the great E.
People talking crack me up, they don’t have a little clue What it’s like to be me, what it’s like to lose you
Mother Mary I grow weary, I did not mean to let you go So quick
from Eels, “Mother Mary” By E
And from our friend Peter Case, and his beautiful “The Long Good Time,” which opens on a memory of his mother ironing while listening to Nat King Cole. In the second verse, he’s playing rock and roll with his band down in the basement, and his mom comes down to say, “Mother called down from the top of the stairs, “Play that nice song about suicide.”
Peter told us that his mother really did come down to say that, and the song she was referring to was “Yer Blues” by John Lennon and The Beatles.
The funniest, saddest and strangest is from Tom Waits, who delivers a story about the meaning of motherhood which is specific and universal and beautifully Waitsian, “Missing My Son.”
Wishing one and all a happy, healthy and musical Mother’s Day from the whole gang here at American Songwriter.
1. Al Jolson, “My Mammy,” by Walter Donaldson & Joe Young
2. Merle Haggard, “Mama Tried”
3. John Lennon, “Mother”
4. John Lennon, “My Mummy’s Dead”
5. Bob Dylan, “Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind”
5a. The Beatles featuring George Harrison, “Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind” [1969, from the Get Back Sessions]
6. Bob Dylan, “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
7. Paul Simon, “Mother & Child Reunion”
8. Paul Simon, “That’s Why God Made The Movies”
When I was born, my mother died She said, “Bye-bye, baby, bye-bye” I said, “Where you goin? I’m just born” She said, “I’ll only be gone for a while” My mother loved to leave in style That’s why God made the movies
Well, I laid around in my swaddling clothes Until the doctor came and turned out the lights Then I packed my bag And my name tag I stole away into the night Hoping things would work out right That’s why God made the movies
Say you will, say you will Say you’ll take me to your lovin’ breast Say you’ll nourish me With your tenderness The way the ladies sometimes do Say you won’t, say you won’t! Say you won’t leave me for no other man Say you’ll love me just the way I am Say you will, baby, now Say you will, just say you will Say you will
When I was born, my mother died She said, “Bye-bye, baby, bye-bye” And since that day I’ve made my way The notorious boy of the wild Adopted by the wolves when he was a child That’s why God. That’s why God. That’s why God made the movies
From “That’s Why God Made the Movies” by Paul Simon
9. Tom Petty, “Southern Accents”
10. Tom Petty, “Something Good Coming”
11. Peter Case, “The Long Good Time”
Mother was doing her ironing while she listened to Nat King Cole Teenagers came and went in cars all tuned to rock and roll Windows would open in the summer heat Locusts were singing out in the street The feeling passed, now I can’t recall How we never thought that we had it all
Everyone, every place, everything has been replaced That’s the way it goes First the laughter, then the light, now they’re all gone and locked up tight Where the cold wind blows But we’ll all meet again at the end of the long good time
Sweet little flowers called snow drops in the backyard with the fresh mint leaves A cherry tree with a rope to climb and robin’s nest under the eaves My band was playing in the basement driving folks out of their minds Mother called down from the top of the stairs, “Play that nice song about suicide”
from “The Long Good Time” by Peter Case
12. Eels, “Mother Mary” by E
13. Rihanna, “Umbrella,” by Terius “Dream” Nash, Christopher Stewart, Kuk Harrell & Shawn (Jay-Z) Carter
Live at the World Music Awards, 2007
14. The Beatles, “Let It Be” by Paul McCartney
When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me Speaking words of wisdom, let it be And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
“We’re all here in the same room,” Lopez exclaimed before bringing her own recently vaccinated mother Guadalupe Rodríguez onstage to perform “Sweet Caroline,” which her mom sang to her as a child.
Keeping with the Mother’s Day theme, Lopez also delivered her single “Ain’t Your Mama” at the concert:
The Vax Live concert also featured performances by Foo Fighters (with AC/DC’s Brian Johnson), Eddie Vedder, J Balvin, H.E.R. and more. According to the Associated Press, the event raised over $302 million during its broadcast Saturday, exceeding Global Citizen’s goal and allowing them to procure 26 million vaccine doses.
Blue Heart Records has announced the signing of singer, songwriter and producer Vaneese Thomas. Daughter of the legendary Rufus Thomas and younger sibling of “Memphis Queen” Carla Thomas and the late Marvell Thomas, Vaneese both embraces her family’s remarkable legacy and advances it in her own unique way. Her vocal career has already taken her all over the world.
Now, thirty-five years after her first major recording, Thomas is planning her eighth career album; a dynamic new release which showcases the musical diversity of her roots combined with decades of musical experience and influence. A seven-time Blues Music Award nominee, in addition to her own creative output, Thomas has produced, created vocal arrangements and written songs for artists including Patti Austin, Freddie Jackson, Bob James, Larry Coryell and Melba Moore. Diana Ross had a top-ten hit in the UK with “One Shining Moment,” written by Thomas.
The new album will be the fourth to be worked by Memphis-based publicity and promotional powerhouse Blind Raccoon. “It is always a thrill to work with Vaneese,” says owner Betsie Brown. “To be able to promote artists with such distinguished lineage and talent is an honor.”
“I am thrilled to be signing with Blue Heart Records for my next album, and look forward to sharing the new music,” said Thomas.
Robert Finley debuted the title track from his Dan Auerbach produced record, Sharecropper’s Son — A soulful chronicle of Robert’s life growing up in Louisiana, where his family worked as sharecroppers during the Jim Crow era south. Robert also performed on CBS This Morning Saturday’s Saturday Session on May 1, and will be performing at this year’s Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival in September.
The career defining new album from “the greatest living soul singer” will be released via Easy Eye Sound on May 21, 2021. A soulful masterpiece written by Finley and co-written by Auerbach, it features blues veterans and studio legends who have worked with everyone from Elvis to Wilson Pickett.
The video for title track, “Sharecropper’s Son,” was directed by Tim Hardiman and filmed on location in Finley’s hometown of Bernice, Louisiana.
“I’m born to tell my story and where I come from. Even though the cotton fields weren’t a pleasant place to be, it was real and a part of my life. I came from the cotton fields to Beverly Hills, and I think it’s a story worth telling. ” Finley said, adding, “My dad was proud and full of pride growing up. He didn’t want to be seen in the welfare line, so he worked hard in the field and did things his way and would go hunting to bring home food for us.”
Finley is an army veteran and was a skilled carpenter before losing his sight in his 60s to finally pursue his musical dream. He has overcome divorce, house fires, an automobile accident and is legally blind following losing his sight due to the medical condition, glaucoma, which forced him to retire from carpentry and finally pursue his long delayed music career. Finley believes his sight was improved by the power of prayer, and his faith has also helped him focus on launching his music career in his 60’s. According to Finley, “losing my sight gave me the perspective to see my true destiny.”
The forthcoming release of Sharecropper’s Son is hotly anticipated telling his life’s story and rooted in the classic sounds of southern soul, country, rhythm and blues. With songwriting by Finley, Auerbach, Bobby Wood, and contributions from respected country songwriter Pat McLaughlin, Sharecropper’s Son also features an all star band including guitar expertise from Auerbach himself, Kenny Brown, Russ Pahl, and Billy Sanford. They are joined by other notables: Bobby Wood, Gene Chrisman, Nick Movshon, Eric Deaton, Dave Roe, and Sam Bacco.
The fire behind the conflagrant performances on Sharecropper’s Son is ignited by Finley, who has cited a range of vocal influences, including Al Green, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, Elvis, James Brown and The Beatles, all inspiring his genre diverse and formidable vocal approach, which take center stage and encapsulate his remarkable life. Finley’s tales of pain and joy uplift as he shares his belief that you are never too young to dream and never too old to live.
On May 1st, Robert Finley appeared on CBS This Morning Saturday Sessions performing “Country Child.”
Sharecropper’s Son will be released on May 21 on Easy Eye Sound. There will be an exclusive sunrise yellow vinyl, available from the Easy Eye Sound store only. To pre-order and for more information please visit: https://found.ee/sharecroppersson