Autumn In The Archives: Doc, Doors, David, Daptone & Dracula

World Circuit Records celebrates the 25th anniversary of the breakthrough Buena Vista Social Club album with an expansive double-disc version, all remastered by Grammy-winning engineer Bernie Grundman. The 19-track bonus disc features 11 never-before-released tracks from the original 1996 sessions. This new version also has other extras, like new liner notes, previously unseen photography, expanded biographies, art prints, and a written history of the legendary

Cuban music lovers will also love Orquesta Akokán’s new 16 Rayos out October 22 on Daptone Records. The Orquesta is a large combo featuring some great Havana instrumentals (including for the first time, string players) along with American players who are well versed in Latin and Cuban music. The band’s first album earned nominations for the Grammy, Billboard Latin Music Award, Telemundo Latin American Music Award,

In the Arab music world, Warda is well-known for the music she made in the late ‘50s and ‘70s (she retired to family life during the 60s). One fan is Timbaland who sampled Warda in Aaliyah’s “Don’t Know what to tell you.” J Dilla has sampled her too. Wewantsounds wants more people to know her music when they put out her 1973 album Khalik Hena on October 15.  The album sound cool as it mixes some 70s groove with traditional Arabic music backed by full orchestra

 

Omnivore mines more Texas treasures when it puts out Mighty Fine: An Austin City Limits Tribute to Walter Hyatt on October 1. Walter Hyatt, a much-loved musician who died tragically in the 1996 ValueJet plane crash, was honored by his pals the following year with this show, which featured Lyle Lovett, Willis Alan Ramsey, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Junior Brown, Marcia Ball, Allison Moorer, David Halley, Shawn Colvin as well as Hyatt’s Uncle Walt’s Band-mates David Ball and Champ Hood. Making its CD and digital debut, this release (which Omnivore also is putting out on vinyl and cassette) contains the original’s 11 tracks, plus six more tracks from the ACL concert and two previously unreleased tunes. 

Doc Watson is getting honored with a massive, career-spanning boxset, Life’s Work: A Retrospective, which will arrive November 12 courtesy of Craft Recordings. Life’s Work is a four-disc collection packed with 101 tracks from this Bluegrass hall of famer (as well as National Medal of Arts honoree and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner). In listening to all of this Watson music isn’t enough of a lure, the boxset also holds his collaborations with Chet Atkins, Bill Monroe Alison Krauss, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Flat & Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, and, of course, his son Merle.

A trio of 1971 rock albums are getting the 50th anniversary treatment. The Doors’ L.A. Woman – the last album before Jim Morrison’s death – has received an exciting deluxe incarnation. Arriving December 3 from Rhino, the Doors’ sixth studio album has expanded to a 3-CD/1-LP collection. Besides the remastered original album, there are two discs containing two hours of unreleased studio outtakes. The gem of this bonus material probably is the original demo of “Riders On The Storm,” which was discovered recently on an unmarked tape reel. The LP is a stereo mix of L.A. Woman on 180-gram virgin vinyl. 

Sundazed Music has done a special version of the debut album from the Zombies’ beloved singer, Colin Blunstone. for its 50th anniversary. Due November 5, this double LP pairs the original album, One Year, with a second LP, That Same Year, which has 14 previously unreleased recordings, including nine unrecorded tunes. That Same Year’s material is spare, mostly acoustic recordings done by Blunstone, although some tracks feature Rod Argent on piano and the late U.K. singer-songwriter Duncan Browne (remember his song “The Wild Places”?) on classical guitar.

Back in July, David Crosby released his eighth solo album, For Free. 50 years ago, he released his first, If I Could Only Remember My NameIts anniversary edition is a 2-CD set that has the album remastered from the original analog tapes while the second disc presents 13 tracks of rare studio and demo recordings (12 are released for the first time). For his first album, Crosby called in a number of his famous musician pals (including Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young along with members of Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Santana) to lend a hand. 

From solo to soul music. Daptone Records celebrates its 20th anniversary with a treat for its fans, Coming out October 1, The Daptone Super Soul Revue Live at the Apollo delivers all of your favorite Daptone acts – Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Sugarman 3, Charles BradleyNaomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens, Saun & StarrAntibalas, The Budos Band, Menahan Street Band, and the Como Mamas – recorded live at the historic Apollo Theater in December, 2014. The 3-LP set comes with a photo-packed 48-page booklet.

October 1 also is the day Real Gone Music unveils Little Willie John’s The Complete R&B Hit Singles. Covering his 1955-61 stint with King Records, this vinyl compilation holds 17 tracks from this highly regarded soul singers, including “Leave My Kitten Alone.” The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer’s career was cut short when he died at the age of 30 while incarcerated in the Walla Walla Prison. 

Five decades of War will be spotlighted in a new 2-CD (or 2-LP) collection, Greatest Hits 2.0 (October 1 from Rhino). It offers 24 songs that the funk/soul/rock fusion band recorded between 1970-94, including such groove-happy hits as “Slipping Into Darkness,” Low Rider,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” and “The Cisco Kid.” The late, great Otis Redding would have turned 80 last month and Rhino has an Otis gift for the holidays. On December 10, it will reissue its sold-out 7-LP Otis Redding: The Definitive Studio Album Collectionthat contains Redding’s seven studio albums done up in replica sleeves.

Btw, If you want a soundtrack for a Halloween party, Real Gone Music has what the doctor ordered. A “mad doctor” that is. On October 15, Real Gone unleashes two vintage movie soundtracks: 1969’s Mad Doctor of Blood Island and 1971’s Dracula Vs. Frankenstein. Tito Arevalo composed the Mad Doctor’s music, while William Lava is behind Dracula Vs. Frankenstein

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Country Funk, Memphis Soul, Japanese Americana And More New Old Music

Jerry Reed

Light in the Attic Records is putting out the latest edition of its Country Funk series on August 6. Covering the years 1975-1982, Volume III contains more tasty treats from a cool array of acts, from well-known performers like Dolly Parton, Jerry Reed, Conway Twitty, and Delbert McClinton (however, the selected songs are not obvious ones: “Sure Thing,” “Rhythm And Blues,” “Night Fires,” “Shot From The Saddle” respectively) and the not-so-well musicians (at least to me), such as Travis Wammack, Rob Galbraith, and Gary & Sandy (no, not WKRP star Gary Sandy but the duo featuring Gary Raffanelli & Sandy Selby). The 17 tracks come as a single CD and 2-LP versions, along with four tracks available digitally: Gary & Sandy – “Gonna Let You Have It,” Steven Soles – “Shake The Dust,” Brian Hyland – “Hale To The Man,” and Tony Joe White – “Alone At Last.” (previously unreleased). LitA also has a bunch of special branded merch for this release including a woven throw blanket, as well as a new colored vinyl pressing of Country Funk Volume I!

Booker T & The MG’s circa 1968 (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Detouring slightly in to Memphis Soul territory are three albums that Real Gone Music is putting out on September 3. There are two volumes of Booker T. & The MG’s The Complete Stax Singles. Volume 1, naturally, is the set of his early singles (1962-1967), Volume 2, accordingly, contains his (1968-1974) singles. Volume 1, coming out as a 2-LP red vinyl version, features such Booker T hits as “Green Onions,” “Boot-Leg,” “Hip Hug-Her,” and “My Sweet Potato.” Volume 2, which will be done in both red vinyl and CD formats, holds tunes like “Time Is Tight,” “Soul-Limbo,” and covers of “Hang ‘Em High,” The Beatles’ “Something,” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.” 

O.V. Wright

The third release is O.V. Wright’s A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades. Wright is a Memphis soul legend, although obviously not as well known to the generally public as folks like Al Green or Carla Thomas. This 1972 record includes three of hits: “A Nickel and a Nail,” “Ace of Spades,” and “Eight Men, Four Women.” It also is a Hi Records album in everything but its actual record label (Back Beat, which was one of Don Robey’s smaller labels). A Nickel… was produced by Hi Records honcho Willie Mitchell and features the fabled Hi Records Rhythm Section and The Memphis Horns

Makoto Kubota and the Sunset Gang (photo courtesy Showboat Solid Records)

Something that I have been enjoying a lot this month are the three albums by Makoto Kubota and the Sunset Gang. I’d just recommend putting on an album – any or all three – and listen to some roots rock that sounds amazingly Americana except when you realize that many of the songs are sung in Japanese (some are in English too). Touchstone comparison acts for me were Little Feat, Leon Russell, The Band, and maybe a little Dan Hicks and Dr. Hook. If you are familiar with the Japanese music scene, you may recognize Kubota’s name; he has been called the Ry Cooder of Japan. That is a good comparison for this music, which combines influences from Texas, Hawaii, New Orleans, and other spots in the American South with Japanese folk music. Wewantsound is the label to thank for these reissues. Arriving on August 27 is 1975’s Hawaii ChamprooSunset Gang (1973) comes out Sept. 17, and Dixie Fever (1977) will be released Oct. 22. Did I say I recommend all three albums? 

Courtesy of the R.E.M. archives

If I say Hib-Tone, what do you think of? If your answer is R.E.M., then you might already know that Craft Records has reissued the band’s first single, “Radio Free Europe,” which was originally released on Hib-Tone Records. This long, long-out-of-print single, whose B-side “Sitting Still” is another cut that later made Murmur, is available as a 45-RPM single with a jacket featuring Michael Stipe photography. R.E.M. also has put out its super-rare 1981 demonstration tape – appropriately entitled Cassette SetIts five tracks include full versions of “Sitting Still,” “Radio Free Europe,” “White Tornado,” along with partial versions of “Sitting Still” and “White Tornado,” all produced by Mitch Easter. This cassette replicates the original’s packaging, including handwritten cassette labels by Stipe. These limited releases, which are part of R.E.M.’s 40th anniversary celebration, can be found at https://store.remhq.com/. Superfans should note (if they already didn’t know) that there will also be a custom (also limited edition) portable cassette player, produced by RecordingTheMasters.

While it doesn’t technically qualify as an archival release, there is at least a Michael Stipe segue. I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground and Nico (due September 24 on Verve Records). Executive produced by the late, great Hal Wilner, this release pairs terrifically with the hotly anticipated Todd Haynes documentaryThe Velvet Underground, that will debut in cinemas and on Apple TV+ on October 15 (the film has its own Republic/UMe soundtrack album curated by Haynes and Randall Poster). I’ll Be Your Mirror is a track-by-track re-creation of the VU’s 1967 debut as realized by a starry lineup of performers led off by Mr. Stipe.

  1. Sunday Morning – Michael Stipe
  2. I’m Waiting For The Man – Matt Berninger
  3. Femme Fatale – Sharon Van Etten (w/ Angel Olsen on backing vocals) 
  4. Venus In Furs – Andrew Bird & Lucius
  5. Run Run Run – Kurt Vile & The Violators
  6. All Tomorrow’s Parties – St. Vincent & Thomas Bartlett 
  7. Heroin – Thurston Moore feat. Bobby Gillespie
  8. There She Goes Again – King Princess
  9. I’ll Be Your Mirror – Courtney Barnett
  10. The Black Angel’s Death Song – Fontaines D.C.
  11. European Son – Iggy Pop & Matt Sweeney

Verve, of course, was the Velvets’ original label, releasing Velvet Underground and Nico and White Light, White Heat; Verve’s owner, MGM Record, put out the band’s self-titled third album. Needless to say, the folks running Verve now have a better understanding of the Velvet’s music than those in charge back in the Sixties. 

Get Smart! circa 1986 (photo by Mike Greenlees)

Get Smart! came out of the Midwest around the same time as R.E.M. was making a name for themselves in Athens, GA. Get Smart!, however, didn’t come close to R.E.M.’s fame, but they are well worthy discovering – and you will have your chance on October 8 with the release of Oh Yeah No, a 6-track EP filled with edgy, fiery songs that were recorded in 1987 but only released now. For an Athens comparison, they are closer to Pylon than R.E.M. 

Explorer Tapes

Omnivore Recordings, meanwhile, has rescued a fairly recent never-released album from the vaults. In 2015, Explorer Tapes (aka Max Townsley and Drew Erickson, best known for writing Keith Urban’s hit “Texas Time) recorded their debut album with ace producer Mike Elizondo (Fiona Apple, 50 Cent, and Carrie Underwood). However, due to some unexpected circumstances, the album never came out on Warner Brothers. But, in conjuction with Warners, Omnivore will bring it to the world on August 13. 

Marianne Faithfull

BMG and Montreux Jazz Festival present next two installments in their The Montreux Years series on Sept. 17 with albums spotlighting festival performances by Marianne Faithfull and Muddy Waters (each come in multi-format configurations including double LPs). Faithful played Montreux in 1995, 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2009. Her record launches with a vibrant take of Van Morrison’s “Madame George” from her 1995 concert before continuing on with selections drawn from the rest of her storied career. Waters, whose many Montreux appearances stretch back to 1965, delivers some of his icons tunes, such as “Mannish Boy”, “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man,” and “Rosalie” on this album. 

And, of course, I can’t do a reissue piece without mentioning some Grateful Dead reissues it seems. In fact, there are two to mention. Coming August 13 is the latest in Real Gone Music’s Road Trips series: Vol. 2 No. 2 — Carousel 2-14-68. This is the first time that the entire concert held at San Francisco’s Carousel Ballroom, which is revered as a classic early Dead gig, has been commercially available. Additionally, this double disk set also contains some performances from the band’s 1968 Pacific Northwest tour. 

Grateful Dead – March 30, 1968

Then on October 1, the Dead shows their love for St. Louis with a 20-CD limited edition set, Listen To The River, which holds seven previously unreleased concert recordings done in St. Louis between 1971-73. This massive collection will only be sold on Dead.net; however, Rhino also has the 3-CD (and limited-edition 5-LP) Fox Theatre, St. Louis, MO (12/10/71), which captures the full performance of this epic show. 

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Nyro In July: New Releases From the Laura Nyro Archives

This month holds the double good fortune of two Laura Nyro releases (with a third arriving in September). While not as well-known today as her contemporaries Carole King and Joni Mitchell (more on her at the end of this piece), Nyro was a precocious, pioneering singer/songwriter who captivated pop music in the late sixties by writing such hit tunes as “Eli’s Comin,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Sweet Blindness,” “Save the Country,” and “Stoney End.” 

2021 represents the 50th anniversary of Gonna Take A Miracle, which Nyro recorded with LaBelle as her backing vocal group. This all-covers album saluted the soul and R&B songs of the 50s and 60s that she loved. 1971 also represented the close of her “golden era” as she announced her retirement from the music business and moved with her new husband, David Bianchini, to Gloucester, MA. Her retirement lasted just a few years but Nyro continued to follow her own path, both in and out of the music world, until her way-too-young death at the age of 49. However, I’m not here to offer up her biography but to spread the word on several Nyro projects coming out in the near future.

Omnivore Recordings has a pair of Laura Nyro albums in the next couple months. On July 16,  Trees of the Ages: Laura Nyro Live in Japan. Originally issued in 2003 just in Japan as Live in Japan, the 16 tracks recorded in 1994 at Kintetsu Hall, plus five recorded at On Air West. The set mixes Nyro’s own songs (such as “And When I Die,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” and “Save the Country”) with covers of Bacharach/David, Smokey Robinson, and Phil Spector classics. This reissue contains updated artwork and new liner notes from author/musician John Kruth.

Arriving September 10 is the never-before-issued Go Find the Moon: The Audition Tape. This recording was made in the summer of 1966 when the 18-year-old Nyro auditioned for producer Milt Oken and A&R man Artie Mogull. The audition was obviously successful as Mogull became her manager and Okun produced Nyro’s debut record, More Than Just a Discovery

“And When I Die” was the first song she played for them – and it became the lead-off track on Peter, Paul and Mary’s hit album, The Peter, Paul and Mary Album, and later became a hit in 1969 for Blood, Sweat, & Tears. The eight tracks of Go Find the Moon include “And When I Die” as well as songs she never officially released and covers of some standards. 

Both releases, which will be available on CD and Digital, were restored and mastered by Grammy-winner Michael Graves. Additionally, there will be a vinyl version of Go Find the Moon (as a 45-rpm LP) along with a special bundle for the LP with numbered litho print of the cover, which is limited to 200.

On July 30, Madfish and Snapper Music are releasing American Dreamer, a new 8-LP deluxe box set that holds the seven original studio albums Nyro made between 1967-1978: More Than A New Discovery, Eli And The Thirteenth Confession, New York Tendaberry, Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat, Gonna Take A MiracleSmile & Nested. The eighth album features exclusive rarities and live recordings. The vinyl box also comes with a 36-page book that is packed with extensive liner notes penned by the noted music writer Peter Doggett, along with rare photographs and interviews with folks such as Charlie Callelo, Herb Bernstein, and Todd Rundgren.

photo by Barrie Wentzell

There are new archival releases too from Nyro’s contemporary, Joni Mitchell, who told Mojo in 1998, “Laura exerted an influence on me. I looked to her and took some direction from her.”

Rhino has just released The Reprise Albums (1968-1971) boxed set, a 4-CD (or 4-LP) collection of Mitchell’s first four albums: Song To A Seagull (1968), Clouds (1969), and Ladies Of The Canyon (1970), and Blue (1971). While each album has been remastered, Song To A Seagull notably also features a new mix, updated by Mitchell and mixer Matt Lee. As Mitchell states: “ The original mix was atrocious,” says Mitchell. “It sounded like it was recorded under a jello bowl, so I fixed it!”

And then on October 29, Rhino will release Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971). This 5-CD compilation presents a treasure trove of rarities, live material, and unreleased studio. Sequenced chronologically, the box set holds Mitchell’s performance at Le Hibou Coffee House in Ottawa on March 19, 1968; several unreleased Mitchell originals, including “Jesus” recorded in 1969, and a concert at the Paris Theatre in London on October 29, 1970.

In June, Rhino put on Blue 50 (Demos & Outtakes, a five-song digital EP that includes a demo of “California,” an early version of “A Case Of You,” a studio recording of the unreleased track “Hunter,” and alternative takes of “River” and “Urge For Going.” These songs will also be on Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2 (which will also be available on October 29 at jonimitchell.com as a limited edition 10-LP set. 

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Make Your RSVPs for RSD

I had started this Record Store Day list a couple months ago, got busy with other things and now RSD is just days away. But I still wanted to send out a shout out on a number of releases that caught my eye. These are just a fraction of June 12’s RSD offers.

Let’s start off with some cool compilations. 

Org Music is offering the 8th volume of their Having a Party: Sun Records Curated by Record Store Dayseries. The limited edition LP, curated from the legendary Sun Records catalog, has Jerry Lee Lewis, Bettye Lavette, Rosco Gordon, and Linda Gail Lewis tracks among the selections. 

Craft Recordings presents a deluxe 3 LP reissuing of Chicago/The Blues/Today! This Vanguard Records’ historic trilogy contains recordings by The Junior Wells Chicago Blues Band, J.B. Hutto And His Hawks, Otis Spann’s South Side Piano, The Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, Otis Rush Blues Band, Homesick James And His Dusters, Johnny Young’s South Side Blues Band, The Johnny Shines Blues Band and Big Walter Horton’s Blues Harp Band with Memphis Charlie. Craft also has a selection of classic and rare R&B, doo-wop and soul tracks from the catalogs of Fania, Stax, Vee-Jay on Dedicated To You: Lowrider Love.

The fine folks at Legacy is presenting the first vinyl release ofGolden Gate Groove: The Sound Of Philadelphia Live In San Francisco 1973, which features the rare performances by the stars of Philadelphia International Records (including The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The Three Degrees, and Billy Paul) at CBS Records Convention in 1973. 

Sundazed salutes another Philly label with its Ladies Choice: The Pen Of Swan Records compilation (on LP & CD). You’ll late Fifties and Sixties vintage songs from the likes of Ginger Davis And The Snaps, The Tomboys, Kathy Lynn And The Playboys, and Patty Saturday. 

Punk/New Wave fans of a certain ages will be interested to know about Buzzcocks: A Different Compilation on Cherry RedThe Raybeats: The Lost Philip Glass Sessions (Featuring Philip Glass & Michael Riesman) on Ramp LocalThe Selecter: Live In Coventry ’79 (Two Tone Records) and Echo & The Bunnymen: Live In Liverpool, a double LP on Demon Records

Jungle has the Heartbreakers’ L.A.M.F. – The Found ’77 Masters, while L.M.L.R. has Iggy PopLive at the Channel in Boston (on pink + yellow splatter vinyl). Terminus Records has a trio of special releases on June 12: the vinyl debut of Piedmont bluesman Precious Bryant‘s 2002 Fool Me Good; Col. Bruce Hampton‘s 1987 album Arkansas, and the ever-eclectic Danny BarnesDirt On The Angel (2003), which features special guests including pianist Chuck Leavell, guitarist Bill Frisell, violinist Darol Anger and multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell.

Omnivore Recordings is delivering LP versions of Richard Hell And The Voidoids’ Destiny Street Demos and Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey’s Our Back Pages while New West Records has a 2-LP edition of Warren Zevon’s rare recordings compilation Prelude and a double A side 7’’ of the song “The Saint Of Lost Causes,” one rendition performed by its songwriter Justin Townes Earle and one by Steve Earle and the Dukes.

Among Real Gone Music’s RSD titles, Jihad Jerry & The Evildoers is June 12’s highlight and Dekād is July 17’s highlight. The former is a controversial 2005 solo project from Devo’s Gerald V. Casale that features his bandmates. This expanded Red Vinyl Edition includes a newly-recorded bonus track, “I’m Gonna Pay U Back,” which also features Devo band members as well as Oingo Boingo’s lead guitarist Steve BartekDekād is the 2-LP vinyl distillation (in clear pink!) of Decade, the massive 2020 11-CD retrospective of Steve Wynn’s rare and unreleased recordings from 1995-2005

WEWANTSOUND has a vinyl reissue of Frank Foster’s 1972 album, The Loud Minority, the Bob Shad-produced album boasts an all-star cast including Elvin Jones, Stanley Clarke, Airto Moreira and Cecil & DeeDee Bridgewater(with a big booklet featuring an introduction by Mia & Judd Apatow). The label also has a vinyl version of Michel Legrand’s rare soundtrack, La Piscine that comes with Legrand’s much admired 7’’ “Un Homme Est Mort” among the bonus tracks.

World Music Networks has a trio of Rough Guide LPs: Booze & Blues, Blues Behind Bars, and Gamblin’ & Ramblin’ BluesMUNICH/V2 BENELUX has Albert Collins & Barrelhouse: Albert Collins & Barrelhouse Live and Lightning Rod Recordings’ Johnny Paycheck: Uncovered: The First Recordings offer blues of a country kind (to stretch things a bit)

Oh, if you are looking for something special to play your new albums on, Crosley Radio has partnered with Apple Corps Ltd for a nifty The Beatles Yellow Submarine Portfolio Turntable.

And, of course, these releases are scattered around various record stores so you’ll need to search around for what your local stores have. But that’s part of the fun, right?

Also don’t forget there’s another Record Store Day on July 17!

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Carlene Carter Presents Two “A Meeting In The Air” Livestream Shows In June

I discovered that Carlene Carter is presenting a couple of special livestreams performances this month. So, I wanted to pass along this news for two reasons. One reason is that they sound like terrific events (and more on them below). 

The other reason is Carlene Carter holds a special place for this blog since, as any Carlene Carter fan would realize, Musical Shapes is the name of her great 1980 album. When I was searching around, oh those many years ago, for a blog name, Musical Shapes really jumped out as a perfect one to use. Not only do I love the album, but also because it reflects an openness to explore all shapes of music – as well as subject matters – in this blog. So, thank you, Carlene for that. 

But onto her A Meeting In The Air livestreams. On June 17, she’ll do a show focusing on the Carter Family’s important, and ongoing, legacy. And her special guests for that show will include Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, The War and Treaty, and Elizabeth Cook, as well as Carlene’s daughter, Tiffany Anastasia Lowe, and cousin Lorrie Carter Bennett. All of the guests join Carlene for the closing rendition of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”  

You can see a teaser of this performance at  https://tinyurl.com/jt6864k

Her second performance, happening June 24, is center on Carlene’s impressive solo career over the year, including some songs that she hasn’t played in decades.  For this show, you can expect a few cool “remote ‘pop-in howdys’ from some household names.

The fabled Cash Cabin was the site for both events. At the shows, Carlene will be backed by her band The Lucky Ones, which features multi-instrumentalist Al Hill, guitarist Chris Casello, drummer John McTigue and bassist David Spicher

Carlene says this two-show series is entitled A Meeting In The Air “after an old Carter Family song and with so many of us interacting with each other online during the pandemic we really have been ‘meeting in the air’.” She adds that “there are no overdubs; we did this all live. The thing I wanted to do most of all is bring joy to the world and show people the joy I feel when I play this music.”

The digital platform Mandolin is presenting these “A Meeting In The Air” events; tickets are available at Bit.ly/carlenecartertix 

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A Read Through “Swim Through The Darkness”

I’m known in my family as the one who doesn’t read books. Well more precisely, the one who doesn’t finish books. And it’s not the books fault, it’s mine. Which is a long away around to say that it isn’t author Mike Stax‘s fault that I have only finished his quite engrossing 2016 book: Swim Through The Darkness: My Search For Craig Smith And The Mystery Of Maitreya Kali

As the title suggests, this isn’t a standard biography. It’s more of Mike Stax’s investigation into the mysterious life and times of Craig Smith, whose story is quite a fascinating one. 

A rising star in the early ‘60s, Craig Smith first found success as a member of The Good Times Singers, who backed up Andy Williams on his popular TV variety show. Smith also had songs he had written covered by Williams, Glen Campbell, and The Monkees. In 1966, he co-starred a network TV pilot, The Happeners, a drama about a folk-rock trio, which seemed like a sure thing to be picked up but ABC rejected it. The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith acted as the manager/producer for Smith’s band, Penny Arkade, which appeared to be on the brink of stardom (or, at least, a record deal) around 1967-68. 

Penny Arkade in the studio around 1967. Credit: Chris Ducey

Sadly, the group achieved neither. Their recordings only were released by Sundazed Records in 2004, with the noted rock historian Richie Unterberger describing the the group as “quite a good Southern Californian folk-rock-psychedelic band.” Moreover, Smith actually never had a properly released album. 

Before going further, I just want to say that I didn’t read this book to review it, so I didn’t make copious notes like I would have. However, the book really captured my interest, which is why I decided to write about it and spread the word.

Stax, a respected music writer and historian who has published the music history magazine Ugly Things for several decades, spent over a dozen years researching this book and hunting for Craig Smith. Swim Through The Darkness is like one of those mystery novels that follows a detective’s search for a person, finding out a lot about the person without ever finding them. Even though he didn’t come up with all the answers about Smith’s life, Stax pieces together a story that proves to be very absorbing in its own right.

Stax nicely creates a portrait of Smith’s life through the end of the Sixties. He makes terrific use of his substantial interviews with many of people who were close to Smith, including his old bandmates such as Chris Ducey, who formed the duo with Smith that evolved into the Penny Arkade and arguably was Smith’s most significant musical collaborator. Reader get a real sense of band growing together; their time working with Nesmith (who Stax also interviewed); the promise that they had for success and how it was never fulfilled. 

The book offers an interesting glimpse too into the free-wheeling, but still rather innocent scene of L.A. in the mid-to-late Sixties. Smith, even though just orbiting around the fringes of the big time, still was inside the Monkees circle; friendly with various Beach Boys, and crossed paths with Frank Zappa too. (by the way, don’t look for quotes from Beach Boys Mike Love and Brian Wilson because they declined to participate in this book as did Craig’s brothers). 

If Craig Smith seemed on the brink of real success in the mid-60s, it is easy to say that he also fell off that brink by the decade’s end. A talented musician with all-American looks, Smith found his road to stardom taking a horribly wrong turn when he started dabbling in LSD and then headed off for a pilgrimage in Asia along the “Hippie Trail” to find the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (not an uncommon trip during that time)

Craig Smith circa 1969

Something bad, however, happened to Craig during this trip. No one has a definitive explanation as to what exactly, but he returned a changed, and rather damaged, man. He became a rather messianic figure, got deeply into meditation, and took the name Maitreya Kali. His behavior turned erratic and off-kilter. 

The second half of the book is punctuated with recollections from old friends like Heather MacRae (daughter of actor Gordon MacRae), actress/singer Suzannah Jordan (who co-starred in an unsuccessful pilot with Smith and Ducey), and long-time friends The Clinger Sisters (four singing sisters who found some success in the music business). Nearly everyone talks about how the charismatic, clean-cut Smith seemed destined for success and share their sad encounters with a disheveled, crazy-looking Smith in his later years. 

The Clinger Sisters performing their 1969 Kim Fowley-produced single “Gonna Have A Good Time Tonight”

A real strength of this book is the really phenomenal job Stax did tracking down a wealth of people – the major and minors ones in Smith’s life. Many of these bit players, in fact, wind up with larger roles since the “headliner,” Craig Smith, starts fading into darkness during the book’s second half.

Case in point: Stax tracked down the detective and the deputy district attorney who were involved in the arrest and conviction of Craig for assaulting his mother in 1973. While neither specifically remembered Craig or the case, they offered insights into criminally justice system of the early 70s. 

Providing a better picture of the Craig Smith during this time period are Lisa Udwin and Rafael Espericuata, who were teens when they met Craig around L.A. in the early 70s. Lisa, a 17-year-old UCLA freshman in 1972 when she met Craig (who was around 27 then), recalls him being sweet but also odd enough that she not only resisted his romantic advances but pushed him out of her life too. 

Rafael hung out with Craig for a time in the early 70s, having exploits motorcycling around Southern California, doing meditation and making music; he too found Smith interesting but also a little strange. Stax even meets a woman who encountered Smith in 2009 while she managed an apartment building. She too described the then homeless Smith as being nice and kind, although smelling badly.

Two of the people I found most intriguing were Mary Hurley and Ann Dignan, a pair of seemingly typical  23-year-old women from North Dakota who were taking a cultural journey along the Hippie Trail. They travelled with Craig for a little in Asia before going their separate ways (and Craig’s way led him to whatever mysterious misadventure he experienced over there). Their recollections made me curious to read a full memoir of their trip (with and without Craig). 

Craig and Cheryl 1970 photo courtesy Cheryl Starstrong

Offering glimpses into Craig’s dark side are his one-time girlfriend Cheryl Knickelbein (now Cheryl Starstrong) and her friend, Dyane Quinn. Cheryl speaks about the rather creepy intensity of his feelings for her as well as the weird things he’d talk about during their tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship. Her final breaking point was one night when Craig turned angry and violent for no reason.

Craig wrote a passionate love song to her, entitled “Cheryl” of course. The song later appeared on Inca, one of the two albums that he self-released under the name Maitreya in 1971-72; the other album was entitled Apache. Both covers look like they were designed by a crazy man.

While barely heard when Smith made them, his albums ironically have become collectors’ items over the years, and they were reissued together as a double LP in 2019. To accompany the book’s publication, an album entitled Love is Our Existence, was released, which contains previously unreleased Smith recordings circa 1966-71. The music actually holds up quite well. There is a little flower power trippiness to the typically spare acoustic music, with Craig’s vocals sometimes suggesting Phil Ochs as a love song-singing folkie.

The Sixties had more of its share of musicians who wound as casualties of the time: Skip Spence, Judee Sill, Karen Dalton, and Roky Erickson, and Craig Smith probably ranks as the most obscure of these cult figures. Stax makes a persuasive case, however, that he had the talent to make a make it – or at least make an official album.

Craig Smith drifts in and out of his own biography, Swim Through The Darkness provides some enlightening snapshots of the various worlds where he first strode, then stumbled, and finally shambled through – as well as what he had etched on his forehead.

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Eight Tracks: Brun & Hell

Here’s a little variety pack of music and videos that have caught my attention of late.

1. There is something about Norwegian singer Ane Brun’s music that always get to me. Maybe it’s her way of melding emotions and restraint in her songs. You can hear it on her new video “Closer,” which holds a sadness yet also offers glimmers of hope.

The song comes from her album How Beauty Holds The Hand of Sorrow (due November 27). Called it a companion piece to After The Great Storm, which come out earlier this year. 

2. Last year, Kalie Shorr’s well-named debut Open Book attracted a lot of critical acclaim, and justifiably so. She matches smart, shot-from-the-hip lyrics with a bracing slap of country Shorr’s releasing Open Book: Unabridged on December 4 on her new label, TMWRK Records. This expanded edition now features 17 tracks of Shorr’s fierce, uncompromising music. Here’s a fresh, live performance of her doing “My Voice.”

3. Church of Roswell—a new conceptual collective formed by singers, songwriters and musicians, Candi Carpenter and Josh Doyle – teases quite enticingly their upcoming debut EP with the “Rocketeer’ (out now on Studio 42 Records). Twangy and breezy, the tune lands right on target and is a real joy to listen to. Jason Isbell fans should note that the 400 Unit – Derry deBorja (Hammond B3 organ), Chad Gamble (drums, percussion), Jimbo Hart (bass) and Sadler Vaden (electric guitar) – lend their support on this track. 

4. Straight out of Vancouver comes Country Supper, a bracing shot of Mississippi-bred roadhouse poetry from Robert Connely Farr. The Mississippi roots are authentic. Farr hails from Bolton, Mississippi and was raised on Delta and Hill Country blues. The raw and scarred music, fueled by Farr’s primal guitar playing, bares authenticity as his songs reflect this life’s rough road, which includes dealing with alcoholism and cancer. 

5. If Farr made me think of a Mississippi blues version of Steve Earle, it’s not strictly because I was listening to “Harlem River Blues,” a track from J.T., Steve Earle and the Dukes upcoming tribute album to Steve’s son Justin Townes Earle. New West Records will be releasing it digitally on January 4, which would have been Justin’s 39th birthday, while the CD and vinyl formats come out March 19. 100% of the artist advances and royalties from J.T. will be donated to a trust for Etta St. James Earle, the three-year-old daughter of Justin and Jenn Earle. 

6. A.J. Croce has a new album of old songs arriving on January 11. By Request delivers a dozen songs that A.J. has enjoyed covering over the years. And it is a true joy to listen to. It’s a blast listening to him at the piano serving up these old gems. You’ve got your Neil Young (“Only Love Can Break Your Heart), your Sam Cooke (“Nothing Can Change This Love,” your Faces (Stay With Me”) and your Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry (“Better Day”). My faves probably are “Brickyard Blues” by Allen Toussaint and a Flamin’ Groovies-indebted rendition of Randy Newman’s “Have You Seen My Baby.” And here’s a rollicking “Nothing From Nothin.” 

7. Dry Cleaning contributes probably the best (or at least most fun) video to this list. I won’t spoil things to say too much about the video for “Scratchcard Lanyard” except to say check it out. The song is an auspicious first single for them on the 4AD label. Some of my bands I really dig (The Feelies, Pylonthe Necessaries) are listed as this London-based group’s inspirations, although I hear a hooky take of shoegazing with a bit of Gang of Four 

8. Because I’m writing this (November 19) on the anniversary of Richard Hell & The Voidoids’ CBGB debut (in 1976), I thought I’d mention: Destiny Street Complete. Due out January 22 from Omnivore Recordings, this 2-CD set contains newly remastered versions of the 1982 original release and the 2009 Repaired Version, which Hell re-did all of his vocals and added guitar work by Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Ivan Julian to a rhythm tracks of the songs that he found on a 1981 cassette tape. Last year, three 24-track masters were discovered, allowing Hell to finally remix the songs as he has always wanted them to sound; this is the Remixed Version. Added to Disc 2 (or constituting Album 4) are a dozen rarities, including demos, single versions and a live take of “Time,” covering the years 1976-80. Here’s an animated video for “The Kid With The Replaceable Head” that was done for a children’s program, Pancake Mountain, in 2009. 

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Quick Hits: Shires, Prine, Pylon, Tweedy, Booker T, Replacements and The Staple Singers

Just dropping in to share a few things that popped up on my radar.

Amanda Shires has a new track “The Problem” that she’s releasing on September 28. Freaturing Jason Isbell, the song is about supporting someone through a very difficult time, and it is no coincidence that she is releasing the 28th, which is International Safe Abortion Day. All proceeds from the song will benefit The Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based abortion fund and reproductive justice organization. Give a listen to the song here:

The Squirrel Nut Zippers unleash Lost Songs Of Doc Souchon on September 25. Jimbo Mathus and the crew have recording ten tunes that conjure up the history of New Orleans music, ranging from Jelly Roll Morton’s “Animule Ball” to new band originals. They utilized clicks from classic Fleischer cartoons (with permission, of course) for the “Animule Ball” video.

How many songs do you think country legend Bobby Bare recorded that were penned by his pal, author/songwriter Shel Silverstein? 45? 78? How about 137! That is what you will find on the new Bear Family release, Bobby Bare Sings Shel Silverstein Plus (October 2). The material is drawn from Bare’s albums, Lullabys, Legends and Lies, Hard Time Hungrys, Singin’ in the Kitchen, Great American Saturday Night, Down & Dirty and Drunk & Crazy, and includes 25 previously unreleased tracks. The “Plus” in this 8-CD collection refers some included tunes that were written by other songwriters.

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The great Dave Alvin has been rummaging through his trunk of recording and gathered up some semi-lost songs for From An Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordings. Arriving November 20 on Yep Roc, the 16-song set includes his versions of songs by the likes of Willie DixonBob DylanEarl HookerDoug SahmPeter Case, Chris Smither, and Marty Robbins as well as some of his hard to find originals.

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October 23 is a major date for cool releases. Jeff Tweedy’s latest solo album, Love Is The King, which he composed and recorded during the lockdown, gets its release, digtally, on the 23rd on dBpm Records. By the way, his sophomore book, How To Write One Song, comes out October 13th on Penguin Random House’s Dutton imprint (hopefully I will finish his first book by then).

Jim White, that Americana rapscallion, delivers his latest serving of colorful southern tales on Misfit’s Jubilee (yes, on October 23). Befitting his idiosyncratic way, he recorded this album primarily in Antwerp, Belgium; perhaps that accounts for its unusually upbeat tone.  

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The mysterious Memphis cult musician Van Duren will see his first two albums Are You Serious? and Idiot Optimism getting serious releases October 23 on CD, double LP, limited-edition colored vinyl and, for the first time, digital as Omnivore Recordings has had the music remastered from the original analog tapes. The 23rd is also when Omnivore serves up expanded reissues of Little Richard’s 1972’s The Second Coming and 1986’s Lifetime Friend. The former notably reunites him with his old producer Robert “Bumps” Blackwell while the latter contains his hit “Great Gosh A’Mighty,’ which also appeared on the Down and Out in Beverly Hills soundtrack.

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Real Gone Music has done a real deep dive into the oeuvre of Dream Syndicate frontman Steve Wynn with Decade. This Oct. 23rd release is an 11-CD collection that focuses on his post-Syndicate years 1995-2005. Its 166 tracks contains 57 unreleased tracks and another 31 rarities. Wynn always makes interesting music even it it sometimes is little heard by the general public – but here is a terrific opportunity to hear it!

Coming out digitally on the 23rd from Daptone Records is Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’s Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In), an all-covers collection with a bunch of  previously unreleased material (like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” for a TV commercial and “Rescue Me” that was recorded for, but not used in The Wolf of Wall Street motion picture soundtrack). Their version of the First Edition’s hit that serves are the 10-track album’s title, was the band’s first recording for Daptone.

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One of my favorite Nashville players (and I mean that in the musical sense): Will Kimbrough. He has an album of pandemic-brewed tunes with the quite appropriate title, Spring Break (also October 23). These home-recorded acoustic songs are full of heart, soul, humor and intelligence. I mean how can not like an album containing the track, “The Late Great John Prine Blues,” even if its mood is indeed blue. Here’s another tune that tips its cap to Mr. Prine.

 

And speaking of Mr. Prine, September 25 holds the vinyl debut of Souvenirs, his 2000 Oh Boy! release that found him re-recording “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Hello In There” and more of his wonderful songs.

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You can revisit his original recordings anew on October 23 when Rhino releases Crooked Piece of Time: The Atlantic & Asylum Albums (1971-1980). This comprehensive 7-CD boxset includes the first seven studio albums of his career, which he made for Atlantic Records and Asylum Records: John Prine (1971), Diamonds In The Rough (1972), Sweet Revenge (1973), Common Sense (1975), Bruised Orange (1978), Pink Cadillac (1979) and Storm Windows (1980). It’s something of a must-have for folks at any stage of their John Prine fandom. If you need more Prine, Austin City Limits launches its 46th season with a John Prine retrospective – one hour jammed with performances from John’s eight appearances on the show.

The Athens, Georgia cult heroes Pylon will be celebrated on November 6 courtesy of New West Records. Pylon Box is a comprehensive four LP box set packed with 47 tracks, including 18 previously unreleased recordings. It’ll hold the band’s studio albums Gyrate (1980) and Chomp (1983). which have been remastered from their original tapes and will be available on vinyl for the first time in nearly 35 years as well as the group’s first-ever recording, Razz Tape and Extra, an 11-song collection featuring a recording made prior to front-woman Vanessa Briscoe Hay joining the band, along with other fun stuff.

On November 13, New West will releases Randall Bramblett’s next album Pine Needle Fire and in January of next year, the label set to put out Steve Earle & the Dukes’ next album, which will all songs written by Justin Townes Earle with 100% of artist advances and royalties going to a trust for Justin’s daughter.

Also, keep an eye out on the 13th for The Flat Five’s latest Another World (Pravda Records/Augiedisc Records) This quintet, featuring some of Chicago’s finest: Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor (Neko Case, The Decemberists), Scott Ligon and Casey McDonough (NRBQ) and Alex Hall (J.D. McPherson), offers up a fun album of quirky jazzy, poppy music that it best heard than described.

gospel truthNovember 13 is a day stacked with Stax music for Craft Records. The Gospel Truth: The Complete Singles Collection spotlights The Gospel Truth Records, which was a short-lived Stax imprint. The compilation (which is out digitally now but on Nov. 13 as a 2-CD and 3-LP contains the A & B sides for each of the label’s 17 singles released between 1972-74. Reverend Maceo Woods and his Christian Tabernacle Concert Choir, The Rance Allen Group, Terry Lynn Community Choir, and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s People’s Choir of Operation Push are among the act showcased on this 3-LP set. Also on the 13th, Craft presents the 7-CD version of its sublime box set Come Go With Me, which salutes The Staple Singers sojourn on the Stax label. Spanning 1968–1974, this rousing collection offers a grand look into the acclaimed group’s work as it includes the albums Soul Folk in Action, We’ll Get Over, The Staple Swingers, Be Altitude: Respect Yourself, Be What You Are, and City in the Sky along with a 11-track bonus rarities disc Singles, Live & More.

Of course, Saturday, September 26 is Record Store Day #2. And there is a ton of cool releases to seek out. Here are a few that caught my attention. Third Man is reissuing Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ What That Is! (1969) and Because Is In Your Mind (1970) Craft is putting out the 1970 album McLemore Avenue that finds Booker T & the MGs covering the Beatles. 1971 is represented by the Allman Brothers’ Fillmore West 1-31-71 concert 2-LP set.

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Of more recent vintage, Transmit Sound debuts on vinyl Son Volt’s Live At The Orange Peel. The double LP – on orange vinyl of course – contains 21 tracks spanning Jay Farrar’s solo and Son Volt eras. Rhino has extracted The ReplacementsThe Complete Inconcerated Live set (from the Dead Man’s Pop boxset and will put it out on 3 LPs. The 29 songs represent the band’s entire June 2, 1989 concert at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. More ‘Mats material arrives on October 9 with a deluxe version of Pleased To Meet Me. 29 of the 55 tracks on 3-CD set have never been released; there includes demos, rough mixes, and outtakes as well as Bob Stinson’s last recordings with The Replacements from 1986. Here is a newly done official video for “Can’t Hardly Wait,” using footage first used in the memorable videos for “The Ledge” And “Alex Chilton.”    

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Pomp Pop And Circumstances: High School Graduation Music From Lori McKenna, Eric Hutchinson, Abby Bannon and Sharon Van Etten & Joshua Homme

It’s high school graduation season, and this year it is a very unique one. There’s the pandemic obviously, but it is also the year for my daughter’s high school graduation. And since she is the only child in our household, this graduation has been high on our agenda. Happily there have been a several songs to come out to help provide a nice soundtrack to this strange graduation season.

For parents, there’s no place better to start with the inimitable Lori McKenna. Her new tune, “When You’re My Age,” is a heartfelt, heart-aching ode to parent/child relationships, crafted with all the real-life moments and emotionally resonant details that McKenna is known for. The tune is a guaranteed eye-welling gut-punch for parents, and perhaps teens too. It’s worth noting too that she is a parent of a high school senior. Jostens, the country’s leader in custom class jewelry, wisely picked it as its official song for the Class of 2020, and it’ll be featured as part of Jostens’ free online “Virtual Commencement” programs. Folks can also find it among the ten tracks on McKenna’s forthcoming album, The Balladeer, due July 24 on CN Records via Thirty Tigers

Those graduating high school might gravitate more to Abby Bannon’s song “Here’s To You.” Like McKenna, Bannon has a personal connection to this year’s high school graduation; the 18 year old just finished her senior year at Crawfordsville (Indiana) High School. Much like its video scrapbook style, the song offers a sweet, and a bit bittersweet-tinged, look at her high school days. Bannon does a wonderful job wrapping her teen spirit into an expertly composed tune. No surprise then that she is headed to Nashville to study music at Belmont University.

Eric Hutchinson strikes a hopefully, nostalgic note on his new tune, “Good Things Come.” He originally wrote it as a message he would’ve given to his teenaged self, but the song now has added meaning to those graduating into this strange, unsettled world. The fun little (sub-3 minute) tune boasts a nifty, ‘90s college rock sound – something Hutchinson explore more on his new CD, Class of 98 (due June 12) that has been described as an autobiographical look at his adolescence.

Watch its retro-notebook-themed video here:

Now, Sharon Van Etten’s duet with Joshua Homme on “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” isn’t really directly related to high school graduations, but I couldn’t resist including for a couple reasons. One: it is one of my favorite tunes (going back to Brinsley Schwarz’s original, pre-Elvis Costello’s version). Two: Van Etten and Homme do a great job in re-envisioning the song. Their pensive rendition made me think how the song resembles a classic country duet. Three: this cover very much concerns parents and children, particularly how parents wish for a better world for their kids. Four: the video is a terrific done-at-home effort – haunting but sweetened with just enough humor. For a more harrowing Van Etten- involved high school viewing experience, track down Never Rarely Sometimes Always, a recently released indie film in which she has a small role as a mom. But here is the “Peace, Love and Understanding” video…

 

Hope everyone is well, taking care, being safe, and hanging in there.

 

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Virtual, Digital, Wonderful: Kid Pan Alley, John Paul White & Rosanne Cash, New West & Polyvinyl, dBs & NRBQ

There are so many great-hearted project happening nowadays. Too many to mention all of them. But I wanted to mention a couple of them.

One upcoming benefit is for the organization Kid Pan Alley, which does songwriting programs, typically with kids in school but also senior citizens. They have done a couple albums of songs performed by pros and written by children in these songwriting programs. Their album Kid Pan Alley Nashville is ranks right of the top of my top family CDs, and features performances by Raul Malo, Amy Grant, Delbert McClinton, Suzy Bogguss, and Nashville Chamber Orchestra (the song “Little Drop of Water,” sung by Beth Nielsen Chapman is still one that pops into my head on a regular basis). Here’s a video of Malo singing “Whispering In Spanish”: https://youtu.be/sbGH0uCCGQI/

This year, they have organized an online live musical festival called Together Again, with Tom Paxton, Kathy Mattea, Ysaye M. Barnwell, John McCutcheon, and Darrell Scott among those scheduled to perform as will KPA staffers. The event is happening May 4 from 7-9 pm ET on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/events/848735978953219/ – it’s free to watch but please consider a donation.

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Omnivore Recordings have a pair of digital releases via omnivore recordings to benefit the Musicares Covid-19 Relief Fund. One is by two of my all favorites, Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey. Their Our Back Pages is an 11-track set of mainly acoustic versions of dB’s tunes recorded around the time they were making 2009’s Here and Now. However, there are naturally some twists to this concept, such as “Picture Sleeve” (a song that they remembered by name only so they wrote lyrics for it as part of a 2011 Record Store Day release. There also is a version of “Nothing Is Wrong” whose origin is 2008 dB’s rehearsal.

Cult superstars NRBQ, meanwhile, are sharing “Do The Primal Thing (Extended Version).” And “Extended Version” is something of an understatement. This mega-jam freak-out runs over 11 ½ minutes. Recorded live in 2014 at the Fairfield Theatre Company (that’s Fairfield, Conn.), it features current Q-sters Terry Adams, Scott Ligon and Casey McDonough along fabled drummer Bobby Lloyd Hicks, tenor sax-man Klem Klimek and trombonist Carl Querfurth. Its opening line “When you find yourself in a world of adversities” is all too apropos today. Head to http://omnivorerecordings.com/?post_type=product&s=musicares to purchase either or both of this unique releases.

Grammy Award winners John Paul White and Rosanne Cash have teamed up for the new single “We’re All In This Together Now” with all proceeds benefiting the Music Health Alliance, which today announced its partnership with the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief project. Spotify will match donations to its partner organizations dollar-for-dollar up to a total Spotify contribution of $10 million. You can find the song by going to https://orcd.co/wereallinthistogethernow?fbclid=IwAR2SxbCWldHz6OGJbeyRGYvEJCxPXlg7ulzFHz0HVpohmkmfIpmr2nlEAy4and you can watch a poignant video that Michael Kessler directed to accompany the song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=10&v=MkVrRYjUS30&feature=emb_logo

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Two great labels have put together special compilations to support their stable of artists. New West Records a fun sampler of sampler of B-sides, rarities, live sessions, and never-released tunes from their artists. Here’s American Aquarium performing “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=WPpLYhjxDK4&feature=emb_logo

The full New West tracklist is:

  1. Nikki Lane – Funnel of Love
  2. Justin Townes Earle – Rocket 88
  3. The Texas Gentlemen – Dream Along (Bonnaroo Haybale Session)
  4. Jaime Wyatt – I Miss Drinkin’
  5. Ron Gallo – Always Elsewhere (Bonnaroo Haybale Session)
  6. Andrew Combs – You’re Like The Country
  7. Sammy Brue – Before It Gets Good Again
  8. Seratones – State Trooper (Live on WFUV)
  9. Robert Ellis – Heartbeat
  10. Kacy & Clayton – The Gallery
  11. Dan Luke and The Raid – Be Good
  12. Caroline Rose – More Of The Same (Bonnaroo Haybale Session)
  13. Sam Doores – True To My Luck
  14. American Aquarium – Darkness on the Edge of Town (Outlaw Session)
  15. Lilly Hiatt – No Good
  16. Pokey LaFarge – Oval Room
  17. Naked Giants – SLUFF (Live in Seattle)

Polyvinyl Records also has a similarly-minded collection filled with previously unreleased music, demos, and covers. Among the nuggets you will find on Stay Home are Owen covering The 1975’s “Me”, Palehound performing “”Something On Your Mind” by Karen DaltonSquirrel Flower’s rendition of Emmylou Harris’ “”Icy Blue Heart” and Hazel English singing The Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreamin’” Go to https://polyvinylrecords.bandcamp.com/album/stay-home Btw, English’s new album, Wake UP! is terrific – give it a listen!

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Here’s Stay Home’s tracklisting:

1.  Owen– “Me” (The 1975)
2. Yumi Zouma – “Mirror To The Fire” (HGP Version)
3. of Montreal – “Peace To All Freaks” (Demo)
4. Chris Farren – “Green Eyes” (Previously Unreleased)
5. Palehound – “Something On Your Mind” (Karen Dalton)
6. Anna Burch – “Every Feeling” (from If You’re Dreaming – out now)
7. STRFKR – “Never The Same” (Demo)
8. Squirrel Flower – “Icy Blue Heart” (Emmylou Harris)
9. Radiation City – “Port Townsend” (Previously Unreleased)
10. Pedro The Lion – “Model Homes” (from Phoenix – out now)
11. Post Animal – “Post Animal” (from Forward Motion Godyssey – out now)
12. The Get Up Kids – “Satellite” (Trashy Demo No Bass)
13. Hazel English – “California Dreamin’” (The Mamas & The Papas)
14. Xiu Xiu – “Haenim” (Kim Jung Mi)
15. Kero Kero Bonito – “When The Fires Come” (from Civilisation I – out now)
16. Anamanaguchi – “Sunset By Plane” (from [USA] – out now)

 

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