Official Site: http://www.willienelson.com
Born April 30, 1933, the iconic Texas singer-songwriter Willie Nelson has earned a permanent position in pop music’s pantheon with unforgettable songs that combine the sophistication of Tin Pan Alley with the rough-and-tumble grit and emotional honesty of country music. His six-decade-spanning catalog includes more than 60 studio albums in addition to live recordings, soundtracks, collaborations with other artists and more. A songwriter of rare and precise elegance, Willie brought the worlds of pop and country together on the radio in the early 1960s penning evergreen classics like “Crazy” (Patsy Cline), “Hello Walls” (Faron Young), “Funny How Time Slips Away” (Billy Walker), “Night Life” (Ray Price) and others. By the mid-1970s, Willie Nelson had become an indelible superstar in his own right, as prime mover of a revolutionary and thriving outlaw country music scene. The Red Headed Stranger, Willie’s first album for Columbia Records in 1975, catapulted the artist into the pantheon of archetypal popularity, making his name familiar in country and city households across America and around-the-world.
A seven-time Grammy Award winner, Willie Nelson has received numerous accolades including American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards, Country Music Association Awards and others. He is a co-founder of Farm Aid, an annual series of fundraising events which began as an all-star benefit concert in 1985 to raise money for American family farmers. He continues to lobby against horse slaughter and produces his own blend of biodiesel fuel. An old-school road-dog troubadour with new school wheels, Willie plays concerts year-round, tirelessly touring on Honeysuckle Rose III (he rode his first two buses into the ground), taking his music and fans to places that are always worth the ride.
In February 2012, Willie Nelson entered into an historic new record deal with Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, marking a label homecoming for Nelson, who, from 1975-1993, had cut a phenomenal string of top-selling singles and albums for Columbia Records, beginning with 1975’s seminal smash Red Headed Stranger. New titles by the artist under the Legacy imprint will include newly recorded songs and performances as well as archival releases, personally curated by the artist, drawn from all phases of his career including his recordings for RCA Records and others.
As curator of his historic catalog, Willie is working with label archivists to select recordings, including previously released and previously unreleased tracks, for release in newly compiled collections and as bonus material on new editions of existing titles, providing fresh perspective and context to the artist’s profoundly influential and successful career.
Heroes, Willie Nelson’s first release for Legacy, proved a a hit with fans, press and radio, where the record spent five consecutive weeks at #1 on the Americana Radio Chart. Released on May 15, Heroes debuted at #18 on the Billboard 200 best-selling albums chart–Willie’s highest number on the Billboard 200 since Always On My Mind hit #2 in 1982–while opening at #4 on the Country Albums chart and #15 on the Top Digital Albums chart.
Heroes is essential Willie Nelson, a seamless collection of top-flight pop-country songs (including covers from the 30s and 40s and new songs by Willie, his sons, Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson, and more) performed with the easy-going homespun warmth and honesty that have become his trademarks. Heroes featured Willie with an all-star roster of guest artists including Merle Haggard, Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver, Sheryl Crow, and Jamey Johnson as well as Willie’s sons, Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson. Produced by Buddy Cannon, Heroes was mainly recorded by Steve Chadie at Pedernales Recording Studio in Austin, Texas (with three tracks–“Hero,” “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and “Come On Back Jesus”–recorded by Butch Carr at Cannon Productions and Sound Emporium Recording Studios in Nashville).
The nation’s music press was unanimous in its praise of Heroes with Rolling Stone luxuriating in the “stark beauty of solo songs like the weeper ‘That’s All There Is To This Song'” while People magazine, giving the album 3.5 out of 4 stars, marveled as “The iconic outlaw saddles up with some worshipful fans… showing his eternal cool….” The Huffington Post noted that Heroes is “…as spirited as it is poignant” while the albums music “…Speaks of his spontaneity and his willingness to record with whomever he desires.” The San Antonio Current concurred with the simple remarkable observation that “Willie Nelson gets cooler and edgier with time.”
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Legacy Recordings launched a series of events celebrating Willie’s 80th birthday with the release of Let’s Face The Music And Dance, a collection of new studio performances by Willie Nelson and Family, on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.
The album also celebrates more than forty years on the road and in the studio with Family, the band he formed with his sister, Bobbie Nelson (on piano), drummer Paul English and harmonica shaman Mickey Raphael–their name taken from his 1971 studio album Willie Nelson & Family. Rounding out the Family line-up on Let’s Face The Music And Dance are Billy English (Paul’s brother) on electric gut string and snare drum, Kevin Smith on upright bass and Jim “Moose” Brown on B-3 organ with Willie’s son, Micah Nelson, adding percussion on select tracks. Willie Nelson and his guitar, Trigger, appear on all the songs.
A collection of deep pop country repertoire classics performed with transformative patented ease by Willie Nelson and Family, his long-time touring and recording ensemble, Let’s Face The Music And Dance was recorded at Pedernales Recording Studio in Austin, Texas, produced by Buddy Cannon and mixed by Butch Carr at Budro Music Repair Shop in Nashville, Tennessee.
Compiling the repertoire for Let’s Face The Music And Dance, Willie chose a range of pop, rock, jazz and country classics drawn from the 1930s (“Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” “Walking My Baby Back Home”), 1940s (“You’ll Never Know,” “I Wish I Didn’t Love You So,” “Shame On You”) and 1950s (“Matchbox”) covering evergreen songwriters Irving Berlin, Mack Gordon, Carl Perkins, Frank Loesser, Django Reinhardt and Spade Cooley, among others. Willie turns in a beautiful new version of his composition “Is The Better Part Over,” a song he introduced on 1989’s A Horse Called Music.
In September 2013, Legacy Recordings will release To All The Girls…, a collection of newly recorded duets between Willie Nelson and a dream list of contemporary pop-country women singers including Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, Sheryl Crow, Loretta Lynn, Wynonna Judd, Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Tina Rose, Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Secret Sisters, Brandi Carlile, Lily Meola, Shelby Lynne, Melonie Cannon and Paula Nelson.
The artist’s third full-length album of new music to be released in a mere 16 months, To All The Girls… celebrates Willie’s 80th birthday year with a selection of profoundly moving and heartfelt performances of classic songs from America’s country, pop and gospel repertoire and more.
For this memorable occasion, Willie wears fashion designer John Varvatos on the To All The Girls… album materials. Varvatos is also featuring Willie along with his two sons, Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson, in the brand’s Fall 2013 campaign, which includes striking black and white images and a short film lensed by Danny Clinch.
2013 is proving a banner year for the pop country patriarch whose rollicking memoir, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die – Musings from the Road,” published by HarperCollins in May 2012, is a New York Times bestselling non-fiction title.
At 80 years young, Willie Nelson has recorded and released not one, but two complete albums of new studio music this year. Both To All The Girls… and Let’s Face The Music And Dance are essential additions to the archetypal outlaw country artist’s catalog of timeless recordings.
Tickets on sale 5/25 at 10am
When writer Cameron Crowe profiled Joe Walsh for Rolling Stone magazine in 1975, he wrote that Joe “stands surely among rock and roll’s finest guitarists.” And no wonder. By then Joe’s fans already included guitar icons Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. “I don’t listen to many records,” Clapton said, “but I listen to his.” Page talked of Joe’s “tremendous feel” for the guitar, adding, “I’ve loved his style since the early James Gang.”
Of course, that was even before Joe joined the Eagles and made indelible contributions to the great American pop culture canon on such songs as “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane,” and, more recently, became an honorary member of the Foo Fighters.
Joe Fidler Walsh was born in Wichita, Kansas, on November 20, 1947. His mother was an avid piano player who brought music into the family’s humble home before Joe was old enough to discover rock n’ roll on the radio. When Joe was still young, he and his family relocated to Ohio, New York City, and then Montclair, New Jersey. In 1965 Joe landed back in Ohio at Kent State University, where his professional music career began in coffee shops and bars.
Though Joe had played guitar in a high school cover band and a popular Kent bar band, he really came into his own in 1968, when he joined the Cleveland-based James Gang. One night in May, 1968, on the way to Detroit for a show at the Grande Ballroom opening for Cream, half the band quit. Needing the money to pay for gas to get home, the James Gang took the stage as a trio, and Joe was forced to learn on the fly how to carry rhythm and lead duties simultaneously. It proved a revelation. Permanently reconfigured as a trio, the James Gang quickly developed a huge following in the Midwest and landed a record deal, leading to a 1969 debut album, Yer’ Album, that became an FM radio staple and drew the ears of guitar aficionados like Pete Townshend—who personally invited Joe and the James Gang to join the Who on tour. Townshend regarded Joe “a fluid and intelligent player” with few peers.
Soon the American public caught up in a big way, as the James Gang scored hits with singles like “Funk #49” and “Walk Away” and gold certifications for the albums James Gang Rides Again (1970) and Thirds (1971) before Joe’s departure following the landmark 1971 live album, Live in Concert, recorded at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.
Despite the band’s upward trajectory, Joe found himself at a creative crossroads: the music he was hearing in his head no longer fit the trio format. He impulsively walked away from a band with consecutive gold albums and moved from Cleveland to a former mining village high in the Colorado Rockies to pursue an as-yet-undefined sound with a new set of collaborators. In typical Joe Walsh style, he found out about a new studio being built nearby and arranged to record there for next to nothing in exchange for working out the kinks in the untested room. The album became the much-loved self-titled 1972 debut by Joe’s next band, Barnstorm, and the studio became the legendary Caribou Ranch, soon to be home to hit recordings by Elton John, Chicago, and Earth Wind & Fire, among many others.
Barnstorm’s second album, 1973’s The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get, yielded the biggest hit of Joe’s career to that point, with “Rocky Mountain Way” eclipsing his James Gang output. Once again, however, despite another band on the rise, Joe was gradually getting restless.
He found a new sense of home—and a new manager, Irving Azoff—in the musical melting pot of Los Angeles, where Joe formed bonds with Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Jackson Brown, Dan Fogelberg, and J. D. Souther, among others. The 1974 solo album So What emerged from this period, and both that album and the solo live album that followed, You Can’t Argue with a Sick Mind, hit the charts, making Joe a bona fide solo sensation.
Even so, when the Eagles asked Joe to join, he jumped at the chance. He and the members of the band had already been jamming and writing together as part of the magically fertile LA scene, and now he was able to bring his rock edge to the vocal harmonies he loved so much in the Eagles. The result was lightning in a bottle, and the new lineup of the Eagles defined an entire era with Hotel California. The album took the already-successful band to dazzling new heights: Hotel California went on to sell over 50 million copies and the title track won the band a Grammy for Record of the Year. Joe’s presence also transformed the band as a concert experience, adding his harder-edged solo songs to the live repertoire.
As the recording of the Eagles’ follow-up album dragged on, Joe recorded and released a solo album, 1978’s But Seriously Folks…, which spawned his signature send-up of the rock and roll lifestyle, “Life’s Been Good.” During the same period he recorded “In the City” for the soundtrack of the film “The Warriors.” That track was also re-recorded for the Eagles album that finally emerged in late 1979, The Long Run.
Despite the success of The Long Run, which included three top ten hits and won the band another Grammy, the extremes of being the biggest band in the land took its toll: the Eagles ground to a halt in 1980 and eventually confirmed they had split up.
It wasn’t long before Joe recorded another solo album, 1981’s There Goes the Neighborhood, featuring perennial fan favorite “Life of Illusion.” Even as Joe spent the next decade battling increased problems with drugs and alcohol, one thing remained constant: his desire to make and perform music. You Bought It – You Name It came out in 1983; The Confessor in 1985; Got Any Gum? in 1987; Ordinary Average Guy in 1991; and Songs for a Dying Planet in 1992. Those years also saw him join Ringo Starr’s inaugural All-Starr Band alongside members of both the Band and the E Street Band, among others; he also toured extensively with Australian supergroup the Party Boys. In addition, Joe played on records by everyone from the Beach Boys, Bob Seger, and Steve Winwood to Michael McDonald, Warren Zevon, and Lionel Richie and produced a New Zealand band called the Herbs.
Newly sober, Joe teamed up with Don, Glenn, and Timothy B. Schmit to reform the Eagles in 1994. Pent-up demand for the band led to ten years of record-breaking tours. And when in 2007 they recorded a new studio album, Long Road Out of Eden, it reached a staggering six-time platinum status long after the industry had pronounced the album form dead.
In 1998 Joe was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame together with the band.
The reformation of the Eagles coincided with a new musical beginning for Joe, leading to one of the most fertile periods of his career. In addition to all the activity with the Eagles, Joe embarked on a James Gang reunion (originally at the behest of then-President Bill Clinton), released a 2012 solo album, Analog Man, that resonated with fans and concert audiences, and found himself in high demand as a collaborator, producer, and guest musician. Among the highlights: he played alongside Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen in the closing jam at the 2012 Grammy awards, he took part in the 2014 CBS TV special commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Beatles first appearance on US television, and he appeared on the Foo Fighters 2014 Sonic Highways album and the corresponding TV episode documenting its creation.
On his most recent solo tours Joe is more comfortable than ever as a performer, allowing him to regularly reach those normally fleeting moments during shows where the world fades out and the music completely takes over. “I’ll be playing and I open my eyes and I think, Oh shit. I’m on stage and there’s people here!” explains Joe. “That feeling is why we do this. For those rare times when you can just zone out and play.”
Those are the most transcendent moments for a musician—and for the audience there to witness it—and this is where Joe Walsh finds himself today.
Tickets on sale 5/20 at 10am
ACM’s reigning New Artist of The Year Cole Swindell’s brand new single “You Should Be Here,” the debut track from his forthcoming album due out this year, was released and it was most-added at country radio the first day it dropped. The song, written by Swindell and Ashley Gorley, shot to No. 1 on iTunes Country chart and Top 10 overall. It vaulted to the Top 25 a full week before the official radio add date of January 11. The official video for “You Should Be Here,” which world premiered Yahoo!, has already streamed over 7.5 million times on his YouTube channel alone. He performed the track for a Shazam Session as the first country artist to be featured on the popular series.
Swindell’s self-titled debut album (Warner Bros./ Warner Music Nashville) was certified Gold by the RIAA. Selling 4.1 million tracks, clocking over 234 million streams, Swindell’s debut LP featured his latest No. 1 single, “Let Me See Ya Girl,” along with his first three consecutive chart-topping, Platinum-certified singles as a solo artist: “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight,” “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” and “Chillin’ It,” making him the only solo male artist in the history of Country Aircheck/Mediabase to top the chart with his first four singles. Named a Top New Country Artist by Billboard, Swindell was awarded CMA’s “Triple Play Award” in 2015 for having (at least) three No. 1 songs in twelve months, and was the only performer to claim the title this year. In 2015, Swindell was a four-time BMI Award winner for No. 1 hits he wrote for Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line as well as his own No. 1 “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight.” He was also nominated for CMA Awards’ “New Artist of the Year” and named Music Row’s Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year, with celebrated songwriting credits which include “This Is How We Roll” by Florida Georgia Line, “Get Me Some of That” by Thomas Rhett, and several songs with Luke Bryan including his No. 1 single “Roller Coaster,” among others. Swindell wrapped his second annual sold-out Down Home Tour, presented by Monster Energy Outbreak tour as the first country tour of the series. Swindell previously toured on successful runs with Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan.
Tickets on sale 5/13 at 10am
Broken Bow Records artist Dustin Lynch occupies a unique place in today’s country music. Thanks to his classic sensibilities, he’s been heralded as the heir to George Strait’s throne. Yet with one listen to, “Where It’s At,” it’s obvious the young Tennessee native knows how to combine his traditional influences with an edgy intensity that places him at the vanguard of today’s contemporary country scene.
It’s that ability to fuse his country roots with a progressive musical vision that makes Lynch one of today’s most successful young artists. His self-titled debut hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart – making him the only new male artist to achieve such a feat that year. The album’s lead single, “Cowboys and Angels,” exceeded platinum sales status while earning Lynch a legion of devoted fans. “Cowboys and Angels” became a modern day country classic, ending the year as one Billboard’s Top 5 Country Songs of 2012.
Since releasing “Cowboys and Angels,” Dustin Lynch has launched on to the country music scene. Racking up over 25 million views on YouTube/VEVO, soaring to #1 on the MTV Music Meter and selling 2.4 million digital singles, the Tennessee native brings a fresh combination of traditional influences and edgy intensity to the genre. Producers Mickey Jack Cones, Brett Beavers and Luke Wooten showcase his progressive sound throughout his sophomore album, WHERE IT’S AT (Broken Bow Records), which debuted at #1 on the iTunes Country Albums Chart and has tallied over 750,000 tracks sold to date. Fueled by the scorching Top 25-and-rising single “Hell Of A Night” and multi-week #1, GOLD-certified smash “Where It’s At,” the buzz-worthy album has earned well over 23.6 million streams on Spotify. Previously opening for Keith Urban, Lynch is igniting crowds nationwide on Luke Bryan’s 2015 KICK THE DUST UP TOUR. With recent shout-outs from superstar Reba and CBS’ The Talk co-hosts, media critics have taken notice of the rising newcomer. He was praised in ROLLING STONE COUNTRY’s “The Best Things We Saw at CMA Music Fest 2014” and ROLLING STONE’s 2013 Best of Rock Issue; named ELLE’s “Best New Country Music Artist of 2013,” and picked for both PEOPLE COUNTRY and US WEEKLY’s “2014 Sexiest Men of Country.”
The best music is about connection, that place where words and music allow an artist’s reality to fire real emotion in listeners. And it’s just that connection that has been at the heart of Frankie Ballard’s rise as an artist.
“I see people relating to the words of these songs,” he says, “using the lyrics to reflect on their own lives.”
Nowhere has that been more evident than in Ballard’s breakthrough #1 hit, “Helluva Life.” Fans are owning every line as they sing it back in concert and use social media to share their own stories of good times and bad, and the way romance puts a shine on all of it. As they sometimes do, the song’s maxim that “bad times make the good times better” has become a rallying cry and a life-affirming motto.
It also rings true to the life Ballard himself has been living.
“I’ve been slugging it out on the road for a long, long time,” he says with a characteristic smile, “and it’s great when I’m far from home to have people out there know who I am and to feel like we’ve created a real bond.”
“Helluva Life” is the opener from Sunshine & Whiskey, an album that announces Ballard as one of the genre’s most nuanced singers and writers, someone whose long road history and wide musical taste add substance to his obvious surface appeal. He first hit the public spotlight with two Top 30 singles, “Tell Me You Get Lonely” and “A Buncha Girls,” appearing on the Grand Ole Opry and playing packed arenas opening for Kenny Chesney and on major tours with Taylor Swift and longtime idol Bob Seger. But he took a different musical approach for Sunshine & Whiskey.
“I’m really proud of this album,” he says. “It’s got songs that really mean something to me and I knew they would mean something to other people. It’s got lots of different emotions, from partying and having fun to some really deep stuff. It’s an emotional journey as well as a musical journey.”
The fun side includes “Whiskey” and “Drinky Drink,” about which Ballard says, “I’ve been making music for a living for about ten years now and I’ve found myself in a bit of trouble from time to time. The two things that always put me there—women… and whiskey.” “Don’t You Wanna Fall” is about a singer, “a high-wire act without a net,” with a woman he wants off the pedestal he’s put her on. “He’s saying, ‘Come down here to my level where it’s real,’” Ballard says. At the deep end is “Don’t Tell Mama I Was Drinking,” a song that hearkens to the stories of tragedy and despair that were once a country mainstay–“It sounds like something Waylon Jennings would cut,” he says.
That diversity is a key component of the record.
“My approach was to pick great songs,” he adds, “whether or not I thought they fit any trends. Some are old school, some are new school, but if it moved me, I’d record it. People are going to be able to sink their teeth into this from track one all the way down to track eleven.”
The album also revisits two songs from his earlier recordings–“Tell Me You Get Lonely,” which he calls “a song people identify with me that we’re including as a bonus,” and “Sober Me Up, “a favorite song of mine that I felt slipped through the cracks.”
In fact, it was those earlier recordings that led Ballard to his re-energized approach to writing and recordingSunshine & Whiskey. What had been missing, he realized, was a blue-collar sense of crafting his own product from the bottom up, of putting his stamp on every step of the process. He decided to retool, looking for a like-minded producer, and his search led to Altman, whose work with “bayou soul” singer Marc Broussard he was particularly fond of.
“I wanted to get somebody who would let me get my hands on the music,” he says. “I wanted to let it grow organically, to build tracks an instrument at a time and play a bunch on the record. And Marshall and I found a connection. He loves to work and to experiment.”
The pair would get together for late-night sessions Ballard describes as “freeing. I was making music that was coming from deep within me. If I didn’t like something, we’d change it, and if we liked something, we’d chase it and try to get it perfect. It was an unbelievably cool experience.”
The excitement translated easily to his team.
“I knew and the label believed I was making music that mattered,” he says. In fact, legendary producer and label exec Scott Hendricks (Trace Adkins, Blake Shelton, Brooks & Dunn) signed on as co-producer, providing additional direction.
The album, Ballard says, “represents the beginning of what people will call my sound.” It’s a mixture of influences, from country classics to blues legends, from Southern rock to contemporary sounds, all held together by the force of his artistic personality. Like heroes including Willie Nelson and Hank Jr., he makes everything he touches his own, a result, more than anything, of a decade of honing his craft on stages all over the country.
“This music was born on the road,” he says. “I’m the product of going out and making it happen, finding out what works. My influences fall everywhere from Bob Seger to Howlin’ Wolf to Jerry Reed, and through the years it’s all come together in my songwriting and playing. People who listen are going to hear me from top to bottom.”
They will hear his background in every note. He’s a product of Battle Creek, Michigan, a working-class town where he grew up “loving Elvis and Johnny Horton.” Sports-obsessed as a kid, he played baseball at Western Michigan University, while he gradually turned a minor interest in music into his main passion. He studied guitarists, including blues great Buddy Guy, locking himself away until he could excel at the instrument. He began playing open mic nights and played drums in a band. By the time he was out of college, he was leading his own band, playing 200+ nights a year within a 300-mile radius and taking trips to Nashville once-a-month.
Through it all, he has never lost his love for doing what he does best–taking his music to the people.
“My bread and butter is playing live,” he says. “The band and I really hammer the road and I don’t want to slow down. We give everything we’ve got to put on a heck of a show. And the best is when the connection comes through one of your songs. To watch someone sing your song at the top of their lungs because they’ve been through the same thing, well, that means as much to a performer as it does to a fan, and that’s what keeps me going. I’m always trying to push myself to the next level with my stage performance. The fans deserve something great.”
Capturing the essence of his energetic stage shows, Sunshine & Whiskey represents the perfect re-emergence for a singer whose journey reflects all of life’s ups and downs.
“Sometimes it’s just busting your butt–at least that’s what my journey has been. I want people to go, ‘This guy knows where I’ve been.'”
Night after night, show after show, that’s just the connection Frankie Ballard is making.
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Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats practically explodes with deep, primal and ecstatic soulfulness. This stunning work isn’t just soul stirring, it’s also soul baring, and the combination is absolutely devastating to behold. You don’t just listen to this record—you experience it. So it’s entirely fitting that the self-titled album will bear the iconic logo of Stax Records, because at certain moments Rateliff seems to be channeling soul greats like Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. But as this gifted multi-instrumentalist honors the legacy of the legendary Memphis label, he’s also setting out into audacious new territory.
Those who were beguiled by In Memory of Loss, Rateliff’s folky, bittersweet 2010 Rounder album, will be in for an initial shock when they spin Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. But when you delve beneath the rawboned surface of the new album’s wall-rattling presentation, with its deep-gut grooves, snaky guitars, churning Hammond and irresistible horns, you’ll find that same sensitive, introspective dude, who bravely tells it like it is, breaking through his reticence to expose often harsh truths about the life he’s lived, the people he’s hurt and the despair he’s struggled with. The difference between the two albums is that the Nights Sweats’ funkiness insulates the starkly confessional nature of Rateliff’s songs while at the same time underscoring their emotional extremes.
The place where Rateliff is coming from is intensely real and intimate. Doing what he does is an act of bravery. “These songs are about the struggles I’ve had in my life—drinking too much, that kind of crap,” he says with characteristic candor, punctuating the admission with a rueful laugh. “And then the relationships we all have. I’m not a great communicator in my personal life, so it’s funny to be writing songs that say the things that I’m never very good at saying. It’s taken me a long time to figure that out. I’m trying to be a better communicator, but it’s horribly awkward—it’s awful—to tell somebody something you know is gonna hurt their feelings. I’ve always been one to go, oh, I’ll just eat this one; it’ll be okay.”
As the band blazes away on the soul-rock rave-up “I Need Never Get Old,” the visceral “Howling at Nothing” and the supercharged “Trying So Hard Not to Know” (key line: “Who gives a damn and very few can”), which open the album with a sustained outpouring of torrid intensity, Rateliff is opening himself up emotionally as well as physically, the raw grit in his voice conveying anguish and hope in equal measure. The buoyant immediacy of the music makes the hard truths embedded in the songs easier to swallow than it would be in Rateliff’s other primary mode—a solitary guy with a guitar, the brim of his baseball cap pulled down, putting his heart and guts on the line without the protection of his simpatico cohorts. Make no mistake, these songs would stop you in their tracks presented in that naked way as well, but the additional layers of soulfulness provided by the Night Sweats—its core comprising guitarist Joseph Pope III, drummer Patrick Meese and keyboardist Mark Shusterman—bring a convergence of intensities, musical and psychological, to the performances.
“S.O.B.” sits at the dead center of the album, between the brutally honest confessionals “I’ve Been Failing” and “Wasted Time.” Thematically, the song is the album’s linchpin—partly a rebuke, partly a cry of defiance, “S.O.B” is the “fuck it all” anthem of a blue-collar kid from the Heartland whose conditioned idea of therapy is a shot and a beer chaser, and then another round, on the way to sweet oblivion. In live performance, Rateliff and the Sweats have been known to mash together “S.O.B.” and The Band’s “The Shape I’m In” as the double-barreled climax of their sets (you can find it on YouTube), the frontman high-stepping and boogalooing across the stage with controlled abandon, bearing a striking resemblance in his physicality to the young Van Morrison. These moments of revelry are also revelatory, singling out two of Rateliff’s biggest influences. Indeed, he hears distinct evocations of The Band on his new album, and he was listening to “TB Sheets” and the rest of Morrison’s The Bang Masters as he was writing it.
From there Rateliff contemplates some of the sustaining aspects of existence, from redemption by way of the forgiving love of another in “Thank You,” “Look It Here” and “I’d Be Waiting” to sexual heat in the N’awlins-style strutter “Shake.” The album ends on a hopeful note with the relatively laidback “Mellow Out,” which could certainly be heard as Rateliff admonishing himself to do just that. “Originally, I had it ending with a song called ‘How to Make Friends,’” he says. “The chorus is ‘When everybody knows you, nobody’s gonna want you.’” Another laugh follows, this one self-mocking. “But I replaced it with ‘Mellow Out,’ which is more of a release rather than a total bummer.”
When it came time to pick a producer, Rateliff went with Richard Swift, a polymath who has made records under his own name, helmed projects for Damien Jurado, the Mynabirds and others, and has played with The Black Keys and the Shins. Swift’s specialty is summoning (and capturing) inspired performances in the moment, and the synergy in the studio, first with Rateliff and then with his band, was instant and palpable. Rateliff and the Sweats already had the arrangements of the new songs down cold, having shaped them on the road. Swift, knowing a good thing when he heard it, set the mics, honed the sound, giving it plenty of space so that the studio itself served as an integral sonic component. Then he pressed “record” and coaxed it into happening organically. “Richard has such great ears, and he really knows how to play to the room,” Rateliff notes. “We have similar theories of recording: basically, you just need to play it right.”
Rateliff, who’s 36, traveled a long road to get to this point. He left school after his dad passed away at the end of 7th grade, left his home in the small town of Herman, Missouri, where his future would’ve likely involved endless shifts in a nearby plastic factory; and worked as a janitor for a high school. Not long afterward, he followed some local missionaries to Denver, thereby escaping what he describes as “the Midwestern lifestyle of working and growing up too fast.” He soon outgrew his childhood understanding of religion, realizing that “there are so many books out there besides that one,” as his worldview expanded exponentially. Rateliff spent the next 10 years on the loading dock of a trucking company before becoming a gardener and getting married along the way. But as the years passed, he became increasingly focused on writing songs and performing them at any watering hole that would have him, in time becoming part of the city’s burgeoning folk scene. “I got kind of a late start making music,” he says, “but eventually I went out on the road,” first with Born in the Flood, which he’d formed with Pope, and then The Wheel, the forerunner of the Night Sweats. By then, he’d overcome his longstanding discomfort at playing his songs in public.
“Writing at home is one of my favorite things to do,” says this constitutionally solitary man. “But for years touring was really hard for me—being alone, being married and having my relationship run through the mire, because a lot of my songs are about that. Sometimes it sucks to sing those songs and have to relive those situations. It leaves you pretty exposed, and your partner too; it can be unfair. But now I love being on stage and cracking jokes, trying not to take myself too seriously, even if the material is about failed relationships and alcoholism, that kind of stuff”—there’s that rueful laugh again.
“I try to be lighthearted,” Rateliff continues, “because, although the songs are heavy, I want it to be a release for people. I’m trying to do something that’s emotionally charged and heartfelt, and I want the experience to be joyous, for people to feel excited and dance around instead of being super-bummed by reality—I mean, things are hard. But I can remember dancing around to some song that was breakin’ my heart, dancin’ with tears in my eyes. I love that feeling, and I wanna share it with people, and hopefully they’ll feel it too.”
“Take this band seriously, or miss hearing what vital guitar rock sounds like in 2016.” – Consequence of Sound
People’s Blues of Richmond brings a carnival-like mayhem to their dark, blues-infused psychedelia. The power trio’s new album Quit or Die is their third studio release and was recorded in Richmond, Va at The Ward Recording Studio with Ricky Olson. Within the past 24 months they have signed with Madison House Booking, toured full time, put out a full length album released June 10th, 2016 and recorded a 7-inch LP produced & engineered by the highly sought-after Mark Neill, the man behind The Black Key’s platinum-selling, Grammy-winning Brothers record.
“The reason we pursued Mark—we already had a pretty firm grasp on our frenetic live sound but making a song sound beautiful in the studio is a whole other animal,” says singer-guitarist Tim Beavers II. “Mark’s sound doesn’t come from a million digital studio tricks on his computer, but from a diligent set up, an intimate understanding of sound, and a belief in himself, his gear and in the bands he’s recording. Working with him, we learned how to push ourselves harder than ever before.”
With the anticipated new album on the way, word is starting to spread about the manic intensity of PBR’s live performances as they burn up the road, sharing bills with an impressive collection of artists from Tom Petty, ZZ Top, and The Allman Brothers to J Roddy Walston & the Business and festival favorites Modest Mouse & Gogol Bordello.
People’s Blues of Richmond co-founders and lifelong friends Beavers and Matt Volkes (bass, backing vox) began playing music together in college as a way to grieve the loss of a mutual friend. Those bleak, drug-fueled days pushed the two into an artistic bender of rock and blues that led to their 2011 debut LP, Hard-On Blues. They followed with the self-released Good Time Suicide in 2013, the album recorded on the exact same handmade ’68 Flickinger board used to record T. Rex’s Futuristic Dragon. Immediately following this album, People’s Blues of Richmond’s lineup finally solidified with the addition of friend and powerhouse drummer Neko Williams (son of Drummie Zeb of legendary reggae band The Wailers).
After years together, on the road and off, the three are more than just bandmates, they’re brothers. It’s a camaraderie that show in their music and beyond. “No matter what, we look out for each other,” Volkes says. “If I have a sandwich, Tim and Neko get a bite, too. We’re all in this together.”
“The whole concept behind People’s Blues of Richmond,” Beavers says, “is that we all struggle, we all experience pain. Life is full of highs and lows, and we all work hard to survive. So we do the only thing we know how—we get out on the road, and we keep moving forward. We become a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Tickets on sale 5/6 at 10am
Blues Traveler Become Team Players – America’s rock innovators celebrate milestone on collaborative
Blow Up The Moon
After selling millions of records and logging thousands of miles on the road, GRAMMY award-winning band Blues Traveler continue to chart new musical directions evident on their upcoming record Blow Up The Moon. A clever collaboration between various artists, Blow Up The Moon sees Blues Traveler keep an open-minded perspective on making music and enlists an eclectic mix of songwriters influenced by the band’s remarkable 25+ year career.
Blow Up the Moon is the first collaborative album that Blues Traveler has ever made. Prior to these sessions, it was rare for the band to have someone else perform on their songs and even more rare to have anyone outside the band write with them. This process was a unique and successful experience for each of these artists who each found new depths and energy in their writing and performance. Blow Up The Moon is an exciting collaboration featuring a range of artists across the spectrum, representing country, pop, reggae and hip-hop
“We wanted to experiment with co-writing since we usually try to do everything in-house, in this misguided homage to The Beatles,” says singer John Popper. Blow Up The Moon allowed Blues Traveler to expand their musical palette while holding the foundation of their distinct and explosive brand of rock. “We found quality writers to see what they could bring to us as a band, and also people who could see our strengths, something that’s hard to see for yourself.”
Blow Up The Moon features collaborating artists Thompson Square, Plain White T’s, 3OH!3, Dirty Heads and Rome Ramirez (Sublime), Hanson, Jewel, Secondhand Serenade, JC Chasez (*NSYNC), Bowling for Soup, New Hollow and Thomas Ian Nicholas.
The concept for Blow Up The Moon came about when the band was commemorating the 20th anniversary of their six-times platinum, award-winning and breakthrough album Four. “Once the idea was put out there, the thing took on a life of its own,” says guitarist Chan Kinchla. “We had so much fun reinvigorating our songwriting. This was an organic process that worked.”
“Nikkia’s Prom,” which Blues Traveler collaborated on with the Chicago pop-punk band Plain White T’s, was brought about through a Twitter conversation. While the groups had not met before, Popper and Plain White T’s vocalist Tom Higgenson bonded over the film Kill Bill. “Nikkia’s Prom” imagines what would happen if the daughter of Uma Thurman’s badass assassin showed up at her future high school dance. As drummer Brendan Hill said, “Like with all the bands we worked with, we just hit it off with them very easily. John and Tom holed themselves in a room and the rest of us just worked on key changes and rhythms. We all had the same kind of humor.”
Sharing humor and an open-minded perspective on music made the collaboration between Blues Traveler and electronic duo Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte, better known as 3OH!3, work so well. 3OH!3 are represented with two cuts on the disc, “Hurricane” and the title track which also includes contributions from J.C. Chasez (*NSYNC). Keyboardist Ben Wilson says Foreman, “is one of those real grinders who pored over every word all day until he felt we had a real coherent tune. And Sean played an instrument called a guitalele, which looks like a ukulele, but has six strings. When you hear it in this context it has a twangy sound that’s just awesome.”
Blues Traveler also had a relaxed time working with the California ska-punk band Dirty Heads on “Castaway” and “Vagabond,” which singer Rome Ramirez (from Sublime) produced. “Both bands just kicked back, handed some chords down and everybody added lyrics,” said bassist Tad Kinchla. “We would just learn the chords while we were all in the room together and played it the way we felt. It’s the luck of getting along with people.”
While Keifer and Shawna Thompson from the popular country team Thompson Square are a very different group than 3OH!3 or Dirty Heads, they were equally excited to work with Blues Traveler on “I Can Still Feel You” and “Matador.” The latter piece was written with Merle Haggard in mind and how he deserved more respect within the music industry. It’s a theme both groups know all too well, especially as they dare to challenge any imposed limitations. “They want to push boundaries,” Popper said of Thomson Square. “Generally, they stick to love songs, but here they wrote a philosophical statement about how the industry will embrace you and then turn on you. With them, we enabled each other to broaden the idea of genre and help it lose its meaning. Music is never supposed to be monogamous.”
A few stars that ascended at the time of Four also make guest appearances on Blow Up The Moon. Jewel lends her voice to “Hearts Are Still Awake,” and Thomas Ian Nicholas (star of American Pie), worked with Blues Traveler on “All The Way.” Hanson, the brothers who gave the world “Mmmbop,” join in on “Top Of The World.” Wilson said, “Hanson were huge fans of us back in the day – they were little kids then and 14 years later, here they are, grown men and had the tune almost the way they thought it should go, and we played it down until we got it right. They’re great singers and cool songwriters.”
Other collaborators on Blow Up The Moon include Secondhand Serenade who perform on “Darkness,” and co-wrote “Hearts Are Still Awake.” “Jackie’s Baby,” a song of soaring hooks and the collaboration with New Hollow, is according to Popper a new slant on the imagery in The Beatles’ “Rocky Raccoon.” Working with Bowling For Soup on “Waiting For You” and “I Know Right,” proves that Blues Traveler is in no danger of taking itself too seriously. That piece is a satirical look at online communication. “That title phrase just covers everything now,” Popper said. “It’s easy to talk to someone or beat up someone on Twitter, but try to come up with something new to say.”
Blues Traveler plan to spend all of 2015 on the road and are looking at more collaborative projects in the future since, as Wilson said, “There are a lot of different ways to write songs, and so many different ways to work with other people and arrive at the same place. It was reaffirming, but also instructive in teaching us how to say something simpler. When you listen to what came out of it, it’s something to be proud of.”
Loud & Proud Records will release Blow Up The Moon on both CD and vinyl in North America via RED Distribution (a division of Sony Music Entertainment) and in the rest of the world through earMUSIC. Loud & Proud see Blues Traveler as a relevant artist and the collaborations as exciting partnerships proving the band’s versatility.
Tickets on sale 5/6 at 10am
Trace Adkins’ trademark baritone has powered countless hits to the top of the charts and turned albums into Platinum plaques, selling over 10 million albums, cumulatively. The Grammy-nominated member of the Grand Ole Opry is a television personality, actor, author, spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Program, the American Red Cross and has performed seven USO Tours.
In his 2007 autobiography, A Personal Stand: Observations and Opinions from a Freethinking Roughneck, the 6’6″ oil-rigger recounted his rise to fame, brushes with death and battles with personal demons. He also explains just how the world’s biggest alpha-male handles fatherhood with five daughters. In 2008, Trace’s integrity and wry humor served him well as a finalist on NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice and prepared him for his return – on behalf of the American Red Cross – to NBC’s All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.
Trace has played a tough as nails biker in the The Lincoln Lawyer, developed and hosted GAC’s “Great American Heroes”, and has hosted the American Country Awards on FOX for four consecutive years.
In late October, Trace released his first Christmas album entitled, THE KING’S GIFT, a unique collection of Celtic carols and traditional holiday favorites. The album boasts an impressive group of musicians, including world-renowned Irish ensemble The Chieftains, Scottish vocalist Alyth McCormick, award winning family group The Issacs, Kevin Costner and daughter Lily Costner, and rock drummer Kenny Aronoff.
Many have been intrigued by Trace’s Celtic inspiration on THE KING’S GIFT. Trace explains, “[Celtic] music just strikes a primal chord in me. I’ve enjoyed listening to it and always hoped to do something with it.” Not only has Trace recorded a one-of-a-kind album, he has developed a special holiday tour, The Christmas Show as well. The 18-city tour is designed as a reverent theatrical and musical production that delves into the holiday traditions and lush arrangements that create THE KING’S GIFT. Trace hopes the tour will become a holiday tradition in which his fans and their families share the joy of the season with him for many years to come.