August Desk Clearing: Shovels & Rope, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, NRBQ and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Another busy month in the music world. What with Sir Paul re-signing with Capitol. R.E.M. announcing a big reissue of Out Of Time to celebrate the CD’s 25th anniversary. News that Bob Weir will release his first new solo album in a decade (Blue Mountain comes out September 30 on Columbia/Legacy Recordings) and that Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have a new album (Skeleton Tree) and a new film (One More Time With Feeling) due the beginning of September. And sorry for the lack of visuals this time – just so much to get to.

Yep Roc has compiled the Sawyer Sessions: Season 2. This digital release features live performances from Josh Rouse, Jackie Greene, The Stray Birds, Chris Stamey, Jonah Tolchin and The Old Ceremony, and its proceeds will be donated to Equality NC, an organization that fights for equal rights and justice for North Carolina’s LGBTQ community.

Sharon Van Etten has a new single “Not Myself” that she did in memory of the victims of Orlando and to support the work of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. It is available via all digital service providers, including Bandcamp, (https://sharonvanetten.bandcamp.com/track/not-myself/)

 September Songs:

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club returns with their first album in a few years on 9/2. Their self-released The Commandments According to SCAC delivers some spirited dark-hued Americana.  Nathan Bowles forges in an interesting acoustic Americana sound, frequently through banjo-led instrumentals on his new outing Whole & Coven (Paradise of Bachelors, 9/2).  Angel Olsen offers My Woman, her third full-length album, on September 2nd via Jagjaguwar

“Music From the Showtime Series Roadies” goes from a digital release to a physical one on Sept. 2. The soundtrack set includes live takes from Lindsey Buckingham’s “Big Love,” Lucius’ “Born Again Teen,” “Longest Days” by John Mellencamp, “Feeling Ok” by Best Coast, “They Are All In Love” by Jim James, Robyn Hitchcock’s “Sayonara Judge,” “Willin’” by Jackson Browne & Lucius, “A Little Crazy” by Nicole Atkins and Gary Clark Jr.’s “The Healing” – plus a studio recording of My Morning Jacket’s “The First Time” and a live soundcheck recording ofAll We Ever Knew” by The Head And The Heart.

The Coal Porters are another English band with Americana elements, which makes sense since US expat Sid Griffin (of Long Ryders fame) is a co-founder. Their new alt-bluegrass-y effort No. 6 arrives Sept 9 on Prima Records. Here is the latest from Power Pop royalty Teenage Fanclub; it has a 9/9 due date. It’s also the day you can hear Daniel Lanois’ lovely set of instrumentals entitled Goodbye to Language. And the wonderfully gifted vocalist Aoife O’Donovan will put out To Release Man In A Neon Coat: Live From Cambridge on Yep Roc Records; the digital version appears Sept. 9 and a limited edition CD on Oct. 1.

Elise Davis makes a strong impression with her smoldering tunes (of the early Neko Case variety) on The Token coming Sept. 9 on Make The Kill Records & Thirty Tigers. Another up-and-coming female singer to keep an eye on is Renée Wahl, who will release Sworn Secrets on Sept. 30; it is the first of a two-part EP series she is putting out. And not to forget Heidi Lynne Gluck. Gluck, who has played with folks like Juliana Hatfield, Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos and Lily & Madeline, recently released her solo debut Pony Show on Lotuspool Records.

September 16 is the date for Dawes’ much awaited follow up to All Your Favorite Bands. We’re All Gonna Die, out on their own HUB Records, looks like they are deepening their sound around their entertaining observational lyrics. The Handsome Family attracted some long-overdue attention when their song “Far From Any Road” was used as True Detective’s theme song (season 1); their new full-length Unseen appears Sept. 16. On North by South (Compass Records, 9/16), bluegrass star Claire Lynch salutes some of her favorite Canadian songwriters.

On Sept. 23 you can check into the Sunset Motel, the latest from veteran Texas country rockers Reckless Kelly. That day too, Modernist bluegrassers Greensky Bluegrass delivers its sixth studio album Shouted, Written Down & Quoted (Big Blue Zoo Records/Thirty Tigers). Thirty Tigers will also behind Tightrope Walker, the first CD since 2011 from Rachael Yamagata. Jake Shimabukuro show off his amazing ukulele mastery on Nashville Sessions.

 L.A.-based singer/songwriter Kayla Cohen, who goes by the name Itasca, has a brooding, beguiling sound. Her album Open To Chance arrives 9/30 on Paradise of Bachelors. Also that day, Cody Diekhoff, who goes by Chicago Farmer, will release his 7th album Midwest Side Stories packed with raw-edged folk-ish tunes. Colorado-based singer/songwriter Gabrielle Louise, who just goes by her own name, has her acoustic-based album What Happened Was coming out 9/30. It is also the day for Brazilian star Luísa Maita’s new album Fio da Memória (Thread of Memory), an irresistible album that mixes tempos and styles into a cool mix, as well as Mandolin Orange’s vibrant Blindfaller (Yep Roc).

October Come She Will…With New Music

Expect a set of rousting Americana when Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance deliver Jamestown Revival’s sophomore effort The Education of A Wandering Man on Oct. 7 (Republic Records). It’s also the day when Shovels & Rope presents their potent Little Seeds – they just keep getting better and better. Their debut Utah was quite the breakout album for them. The first CD in a decade from Glen Phillips, of Toad the Wet Sprocket fame, gets unveiled Swallowed By The New 10/7. It is also the day when Merge puts out the latest offering from Hiss Golden Messenger Heart Like a Levee is a marvelous take on Americana. On this busy day, The Plastic Ants bring forth Imperial Phase. This band comes from Cincinnati and make adventurous chamber pop so it is not surprising that its members include the Afghan Whig’s John Curley and Joe Klug from Wussy.

Blues fan will remember that Texas guitar wizard Eric Johnson has done an all-acoustic album, E J. Chicago-based, Isle Of Man-bred bluesman Davy Knowles has his latest work Three Miles From Avalon, which includes his take on Willie Dixon’s “What In The World,” arriving 10/14. Oct. 14 is also the day for Blues Highways, the new CD from award-winning Canadian bluesman Colin James where he salutes some of his idols, like Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Freddie King, Jr. Wells, Buddy Guy, Peter Green and Robert Johnson.

On Oct. 14, ATO releases a CD with a rather different temperament. Quirky country troubadour (and recent L.A. transplant) Jonny Fritz has a done a new album Sweet Creep that was produced by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. I wanted to share a couple of the song titles: “Chilidog Morning,” “Chihuahua Rescue” and “Fifteen Passenger Van.” Johnnyswim, meanwhile, surfaces that day with their long-awaited second full-length Georgia Pond. 10/14 is also when Conor Oberst returns with Ruminations, (Nonesuch Records) is his seventh solo album and first since 2014’s Upside Down Mountain.

The Flat Five are something of a Chicago “supergroup” as they feature Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough and Alex Hall. They will be finally releasing their debut disc It’s A World of Love and Hope on Oct. 14 via Bloodshot.

The award-winning folk British duo Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker will release their debut album for Rough Trade, Overnight, on October 14th, which is also the date for Full Closure and No Details, the North American debut from Australia’s Gabriella Cohen. She is an intriguing stripped down indie rock vibe wrapped with straight-faced humor. (for a countrywoman comparison think Courtney Barnett with a third of the words).

Keep an ear open for a couple of up-and-coming honky tonkers Troy Cartwright and Zach Schmidt; they both have albums coming out in October.

Further down the road

You can call Lampchop’s new album FLOTUS or For Love Often Turns Us Still. Whatever you call it, this Merge release (due Nov. 4) find lead Lampchop Kurt Wagner exploring new musical territory, but what else would you expect? Drag City is prepping the first album in over a decade from Papa M (aka David Pajo. Highway Songs is set for Nov. 11. The Whigs (not the Afghan variety) share a concert recording Live in Little Five that New West will release on Nov. 11.

History Lessons

The Grammy Museum unveils what should be a terrific exhibit on Sept. 16. Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk contains a slew of Ramones memorabilia and looks at that important place and time in rock history.

If you are a fan of ‘90s college rock and/or Americana then you should check out Scarred But Smarter: Life N Times Of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, a documentary that looks at the long-time Georgia band that has never escaped cult status. It comes out on DVD and digital formats on September 23rd.

and if you love old-time music. I mean real “old time” music that make note of the Sept. 30 release from Archeophone Records: Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900. This 3-CD (and one book) compilation presents a treasury of early recordings. We’re talking music from cylinder recordings. The 102 tracks include an 1894 recording of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” by the African-American singing group, the Standard Quartette as well as field recordings from the 1897 Methodist camp meeting at Ocean Grove, New Jersey that features the first and only recording by the fabled blind hymn-writer Fanny Crosby.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band turns 50 this year and they will celebrate with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Friends – Circlin’ Back: Celebrating 50 Years (due Sept. 30 on NGDB Records via Warner Music Nashville). A live recording, in the Circle Be Unbroken mode, finds the band playing with John Prine, Sam Bush, Vince Gill, Jerry Jeff Walker, Alison Krauss, Rodney Crowell, Jerry Douglas and Jackson Browne. Meanwhile, Dirt Band founder John McEuen will have his own CD Made In Brooklyn also coming out that day.

1966 is also the year Otis Redding released his classic record The Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul. Rhino is celebrating this occasion with a deluxe reissue featuring newly remastered stereo and mono mixes of the album. The CD (due 10/7) includes such bonus track gems as studios outtakes “Trick Or Treat” and “Loving By The Pound” and a blistering live recording of “Try A Little Tenderness” taken from the 1967 Stax/Volt Revue’s European tour.

Also marking their 50th anniversary is NRBQ and Omnivore Recordings has constructed the first ever box-set for this legendary roots rock outfit. High Noon – A 50 Year Retrospective (due Nov. 11) is a 5-CD set holds hit songs, rarities, concert favorites, covers and a number of previously unissued tracks.

Other exciting projects arriving this year from Omnivore is the 30th anniversary reissue of Peter Case‘s self-titled solo debut (Sept. 16), which has seven bonus tracks (two from a 1986 promotional EP and five previously unissued tracks). Maybe it is time for me to get rid of my cassette version. Game Theory‘s the Big Shot Chronicles also came out in 1986 and Omnivore’s expanded version (due 9/23) includes 13 bonus tracks, 9 of which haven’t been released before (like live versions of “Sweet Jane,” “Re-make/Re-model” and a demo of “Jesus Christ.” Speaking of Big Star, on Oct. 14, the label unveils Complete Third, which gather together everything – every demo, rough mix, outtake, alt take and final master – known to exist for that revered album.

Coming in October from Real Gone Music is Mahalia Jackson Sings—The Great Television Performances (a new-to-CD 16-track collection of the rather rare recordings by the gospel’s great), John Hammond’s half-acoustic/half-electric 1967 album Mirrors (featuring guest shots by Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Mike Bloomfield and Charlie Musselwhite), Sandy Bull’s standout 1963 debut Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo and a 35-song Eddie Money retrospective.

On Sept. 9, Rhino presents a 3-CD set that collects Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris’s Trio recordings – the two Trio albums plus a 20-track disc packed with unreleased and alternative tracks. The label will also issue a single disc My Dear Companion, drawn from The Trio Collection.

Modern Harmonic just released 29 Demos from cult heroine Margo Guryan. It is the vinyl version of the 2001 CD collection 25 Demos and this version has 4 additional tracks on this double colored vinyl (one red, one blue).

On Nov. 18, Parlophone will releases a deluxe version of Jethro Tull’s sophomore outing Stand Up, which contains their smash hit “Living In The Past.” The reissue includes the previously unreleased “Bouree,” some BBC session tracks, a 1969 live recording of a Swedish concert where they opened for Jimi Hendrix and a DVD with some concert footage and remixed songs.

The Faint has collected 16 of their finest songs on CAPSULE: 1999-2016 that lands on Sept. 30 via Saddle Creek. Meanwhile, The Fray’s Best Of compilation, Through The Years (Nov. 4, Epic Records) boasts three new tunes “Singing Low,” “Corners” and, their new single, “ Changing Tides.”

Tributes:

American Laundromat Records has organized the quite terrific Say Yes! A Tribute to Elliott Smith. This 15-track salute (due 10/14) contains folks like Tanya Donelly, Julien Baker, Amanda Palmer, J Mascis, Juliana Hatfield, William Fitzsimmons, Escondido, Sun Kil Moon, Waxahatchee and Lou Barlow doing Smith songs.

Oct. 14 also is when Memphis International will release Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich that has Jim Lauderdale, Shooter Jennings, Keith Sykes and Will Kimbrough among its contributors.

Highway Prayers is a tribute to the Texas troubadour Adam Carroll. Due Oct. 28 on Eight 30 Records, it should be a fine offering as it features such faves as James McMurtry, Hayes Carll,  Slaid Cleaves, The Band of Heathens, Matt the Electrician,  Danny Barnes,  Terri Hendrix, Mando Saenz, Tim Easton and Aaron Lee Tasjan (whose excellent New West debut Silver Tears also arrives that day).

Solo Outings

The Infamous Stringdusters fiddle man Jeremy Garrett will be releasing a new solo album on Sept. 27. The title The RV Sessions 2 gives you a hint of its origins. As he did with last year’s The RV Sessions, Garrett recorded this genre-hopping set of instrumentals while on the road in an RV traveling with his family.

Dangerous Things, the first solo album by Augustana’s frontman Dan Layus, arrives October 21 on Plated Records/ADA. Nina Diaz, who has drawn attention as the frontwoman for the indie punk band Girl In A Coma, will reveal a wider, but no less potent, musical palette on her debut solo outing The Beat Is Dead due October 28 via Cosmica Artists.

Congratulations

… to Mike Nesmith, who will receive receive the Ernie Kovacs Award at 29th Dallas VideoFest on Oct. 1. This award salutes the career and talents of television’s greatest visionaries. Nesmith and Kovcas are a pair who populate my personal pop culture pantheon. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Monkees’ TV show and next year Nesmith will put out an autobiographical book, Infinite Tuesday.

On Oct. 9, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame welcomes in four new inductees: Townes Van Zandt, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Bob Morrison and Aaron Barker. The first two names should be familiar. Morrison, meanwhile, was ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 1978, 1980-82 and NSAI Songwriter of the Year in 1980, while Brooks penned a number of hits for George Strait, among others.

And in closing, an interesting story from up north. Bob Egan is retiring from the long-running roots band Blue Rodeo to take a job with the Kitchener Public Library. Egan, who also played in Wilco for a spell, has been Blue Rodeo’s pedal steel man for nearly 18 years.

 

thanks for bearing with me and have a good September.

 

 

 

 

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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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