News From June: Resurrected James Brown Live, Robyn Hitchcock in Judy Collins Mode and The Milk Carton Kids’ New Tour Buddy

Here are some news items from this month that has caught my attention.

Showtime announced that it will do a series on the life of roadies, entitled Roadies. What makes this exciting news is that it comes from Cameron Crowe and Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life, Wicked) and J.J. Abrams also are involved. Hopefully it will be better than the 1980’s movie Roadie, which was a big hot mess despite being directed by Alan Rudolph (Welcome To L.A.) and featuring Alice Cooper and Blondie (and starring Meatloaf).

The legendary songwriter Gerry Goffin passed away on June 19. With his then-wife Carole King, he wrote classic tunes like “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Up On The Roof” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” He has been in the news of late due to the success of the Carole King musical Beautiful. Their daughter Louise Goffin also has a fine album Songs From A Mine coming out next month.

Here is one of my favorite versions of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” done by Maureen Tucker

Rhino has a particularly “special” project in the pipeline. The Best of the Specials, due Sept. 9, holds 20 tracks including “A Message To You, Rudy,” “Nelson Mandela” and “Ghost Town.” It’s a CD only version of the Specials retrospective that came out as a CD/DVD in 2008. Real Gone Music, meanwhile, will release a special double disc covering the career of the Dream Academy in July. The collection contains their biggest hit, “Life In A Northern Town,” as well as rarities.

It’ll be a James Brown world at Sundazed in July. The label will unveil Love Power Peace – a 3-LP set commemorating Brown’s 1971 Paris performances. Brown has conceived this material as a triple Brown had conceived releasing it as a triple album but his grand plan fell apart when members of his dynamite band, the J.B.’s left the group. It is finally being released the way the Godfather of Soul had intended and the CD’s material was mastered from Brown’s mixdown reels.

Bobby Patterson

Bobby Patterson

Texas soul man Bobby Patterson is a legendary cult figure whose songs have been covered by Albert King and Golden Smog. He’ll be releasing a rare studio album July 22 on Omnivore. Produced by Zach Ernst (from Black Joe Lewis’ band), the album comes packed with raw, authentic music that lives up to its title: I Got More Soul!

If band names like the Magnificent Soul Survivors and the Fantastic Gospel Travelers get you excited, then keep your eyes out for The Soul of Designer Records. This 4-CD set gathers together gospel music released on the Memphis-based Designer Records label between 1967-77. Designer was a “custom” label where bands would put their money done to record some sides. The collections serves up a wealth of intriguing music that represents a secret history of American roots music. Big Legal Mess Records will be putting this out on Sept. 30.

Another side of Memphis is represented by the Reigning Sound. For their Merge debut Shattered (coming July 15), the Greg Cartwright-fronted outfit has knocked out a spirited set of tunes that feels vintage without feeling old-fashioned.

Robyn Hitchcock and producer Joe Boyd have done some “stories and songs” gigs together in recent years. Now Boyd has produced Hitchcock’s new album The Man Upstairs, which Boyd describes as something Judy Collins might have done for Elektra in the mid-1960s. It’s an eclectic folk album filled with a mix of covers and originals. The covers include the Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost In You,” Roxy Music’s “To Turn You On” and The Doors’ “The Crystal Ship.” The album, which has cover art from Gillian Welch, arrives Aug. 26 on Yep Roc.

Welch makes a musical appearance on the new album from Peter Rowan. A Bill Monroe alum, Newgrass pioneer and co-founder of Old And In The Way, Rowan has had a remarkable, influential career and shows few signs of slowing down on Dharma Blues, which arrives July 8 courtesy of Elk Run and Omnivore.

David Mayfield Parade

David Mayfield Parade

Congrats to David Mayfield for signing with Compass Records. Over the past few years, the David Mayfield Parade has been one of the bright new faces in the new Bluegrass scene. Expect a CD from Mayfield (who is the brother of Jessica Lea Mayfield ) in September.

Dale Watson delivers his third volume of Truckin’ Sessions on Red River Entertainment on July 8. The disc comes loaded with timeless country tunes that truckers and non-truckers can enjoy.

Coming Aug. 19 is Rain Plans, the new albums from Israel Nash on Loose/Thirty Tigers. Nash, who has developed a European following, serves up some psychedelic-dipped Americana that suggests the ragged rustic rawk of Neil Young.

Shovels & Rope (aka Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent) unveils their sophomore album Swimmin’ Time, on Aug. 26. There is much anticipation for this one given how great their debut was.

Ruthann Friedman

Ruthann Friedman

Light in the Attic, who has helped throw the spotlight on cult figures acts like Rodriguez, Michael Hurley and Karen Dalton is distributing Wolfgang Records’ album of new material from Ruthann Friedman. Chinatown, which features a guest shot by her old pal Van Dyke Parks, is the first studio effort in around 40 years from the woman who wrote the hit, “Windy.”

Freak Folk darling Vashti Bunyan has a new album (her third since her 2005 musical return) arriving Oct. 7 – Heartleap, which comes out on the DiCristina label.

Something else to look for this fall is the tour that the Milk Carton Kids and Sarah Jarosz have teamed up to do. They’ll be supported by violinist Alex Hargreaves, bassist Paul Kowert and cellist Nathaniel Smith. It should make for a special evening of acoustic music, and here’s hoping this tour leading to some recording as well.



About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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