The rip-roaring sound of East Los Angeles’ Chicano rock ’n’ rollers of the ’60s and ’70s receives definitive treatment on Land of 1000 Dances: The Rampart Records Complete Singles Collection, due on November 29, 2019 for independent music retail’s annual Black Friday Record Store Day.

Produced by the independent Los Angeles label Minky Records, the four-CD set, which is being released in a limited edition of 1,000 copies, provides a complete overview of defining Mexican-American rock released in a 30-year period between 1961 and 1991 by Rampart, the small but influential company run by entrepreneur, manager, and producer Eddie Davis.

Minky has previously released single-CD collections devoted to two acts that appeared on Davis’ Linda and Gordo imprints: Stompin’ at the Rainbow by the multi-racial R&B unit The Mixtures and Music Is the Answer by God’s Children, the early ’70s soul/funk unit fronted by East Side vocal legends Little Willie G. (of Thee Midniters) and Lil’ Ray.

But Land of 1000 Dances — the product of nearly a decade of research and production — is the most in-depth overview ever assembled of what is familiarly known as the “West Coast East Side Sound.” The eruptive music that launched a thousand low riders down Whittier Boulevard is chronicled through the story of the music’s most prominent and prolific label.

Eddie Davis, who was previously an aspiring singer and Los Angeles restaurateur (“I cooked a lot of hamburgers to make those records,” he said in 1960), found initial music biz success in 1963 with “Farmer John,” a rowdy live-in-the-studio remake of Don & Dewey’s 1959 R&B hit by the Mexican-American group The Premiers. That local smash was issued under his Faro banner, but Rampart would soon become the principal outlet for his musical discoveries.

In his introductory essay, Luis J. Rodriguez — former poet laureate of Los Angeles and author of the bestselling memoir Always Running— says Rampart was Davis’ “dream … of a Motown for Chicano performers.”

Featured among the collection’s 79 tracks (all pristinely mastered by Mark Wheaton) are the original hits of East L.A.’s breakout band Cannibal & the Headhunters, whose pounding 1965 cover of Chris Kenner’s “Land of 1000 Dances” rose to No. 30 on the American singles chart. The quartet went on to appear as the opening act on The Beatles’ ’65 tour, which included legendary stops at Shea Stadium in New York and the Hollywood Bowl.

Cannibal & the Headhunters at the 1965 Eastside Revue Concert

Rampart’s dozens of 45s covered a bounty of other great music in a variety of styles, ranging through doo-wop, R&B, and soul into funky instrumentals and garage rock and through funk, disco, and Latin pop. Davis did not restrict himself to signing Chicano performers, and Rampart was also the home of many gifted African-American talents.

Among the gems heard on Land of 1000 Dancesis “Hector Parts 1 & 2,” a double-barreled, organ-driven instrumental by the Village Callers, which was heard on the soundtrack to Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s hit summer film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.

Other top-flight Rampart acts surveyed include the storming, horn-driven garage soul unit The Blendells, whose cover of Stevie Wonders single “La La La La La” is a crate digger classic; R&B foursome The Atlantics, whose lineup included future ’70s love man Barry White; soul balladeer Ron Holden; The Soul-jers, the military-garbed duo of former Mixtures vocalists Philip Tucker and Delbert Franklin; Motown-styled vocal quartet the Four Tempos; Latin songstresses Didi Scorzo and Graciela Palafox; and funk/disco pioneers Eastside Connection.

Hector Gonzalez, bassist of Eastside Connection, has overseen Rampart’s assets since Eddie Davis’ death in 1994 and co-produced Land of 1000 Dances with Michael Minky.

Deep background on Rampart’s acts and such behind-the-scenes players as key producer-manager Billy Cardenas is supplied in a thoroughly researched historical essay written by the late Los Angeles critic, journalist, and music historian Don Waller, author of The Motown Story.

The first discography of Rampart’s single releases brings together complete recording information on the label’s 45 rpm output. A special 38-page “Rampart on the Road” portfolio features rare photos and memorabilia of tour and East L.A. appearances by Cannibal & the Headhunters (who are seen in hitherto unpublished snapshots with The Beatles) and other performers.

Paul McCartney with Frankie “Cannibal” Garcia, 1965

Today, the legacy of Rampart Records can be heard in the work of such Grammy-winning East L.A.-bred artists as Los Lobos and La Santa Cecilia. Land of 1000 Dances affords the deepest look available at a sound that broke out of the barrio to rule the charts.

Rampart Records

The B. Christopher Band returns with a large cast of musical talent on Two Rivers Back. With some players having worked together before under the moniker and a few newcomers joining in, there is no shortage of ideas, voices and sounds. Varying instruments, styles and musicians from song to song, the set features a varied mix of blues. While the common thread on all thirteen tracks is the guitar and musical direction of B. Christopher, arrangements generously share the spotlight, resulting in a cohesive and enjoyable group of tunes. 

The album relies more on music than lyrics, so it is fitting that the instrumental “Newbie’s Funk” begins the set. Christoper’s clean, compressed guitar tone introduces the main theme with a bit of prodding from Bruce Katz’s organ pulses. Rounded out by the rhythm tandem of Eric Collier and Anton Fig, the quartet groove their way through the laid-back Texas blues jam. 

“Tried To Keep You Satisfied” adds a couple more instruments on a thumping screamer. E.J. “Moose” Boles shares his side of a failed romance with an authentically deep growl and naturally overdriven voice. Boles splits top billing on “Sad State of Affairs,” trading phrases with Andy Snitzer’s saxophone fills and Christopher’s snappy solos. Both songs maintain great sonic spacing between the various instruments. The mix never sounds congested, allowing listeners to focus on specific musicians and riffs.

Another one of the collection’s six instrumentals, “Bit O ‘Butter” unleashes some exquisite guitar work and accompanying piano, winding their way through a traditional blues shape. Different, but also steeped in tradition, “She’s Gone ” is the shortest, and perhaps strongest track on Two Rivers Back. A solo effort, Christopher loosely paints a mournful tune with a raw and echoey delta blues slide. On an album filled with myriad guitar tones, this stands out as the most memorable. He turns up the fuzz to match a rollicking piano passage on “It’s Alright” and Snitzer lends his expertise with a solid horn arrangement on “I’m Drunk,” which is Boles’s last turn on lead vocals. 

“Nina Come On” opens the back half of the album with an uptempo boogie, laced with a slightly grittier sound. The addition of Michael Powers as a lead singer and complementary guitarist on the second break accounts for some of this edge, as does the warbling drive of Jerry Portnoy’s blues harp. “Nina,” the aforementioned object of desire, is all but forgotten amidst all the instrumental exchanges.

Slow and patient, “Twenty Eight Days” laments lost love with a generous helping of acoustic guitars and stately piano. Like “She’s Gone,” the track stands apart from the other numbers by sounding softer in tone and more earthy. Portnoy’s high-register harmonica solo is an inspired highlight. Closing with feeling, “It Just Hurts” grinds and throbs around a sneering central riff and sharp guitar licks. It is the antithesis of “Twenty Eight Days” and exemplifies the range of style the band is willing and able to reach.

The album covers several blues structures and traditions, imparting The B. Christopher Band’s blend of style and shifting as often as the members themselves. The component musicians and distinct lineups’ imaginative playing impresses both technically and creatively. Although it doesn’t reinvent the genre, Two Rivers Back boasts some fantastic playing, few weak moments and will likely get repeated listenings from blues fans.    

The Review: 7.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– She’s Gone
– Nina Come On
– Twenty Eight Days
– It Just Hurts

The Big Hit

– Twenty Eight Days

Review by Willie Witten

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

On the heels of an opening performance with the Rolling Stones this summer, and the announcement of upcoming performances with ZZ Top and Bob Seger, Pittsburgh rock band GHOST HOUNDS has announced details of Roses Are Black, their new album out November 5th, 2019.  Featuring guest appearances by Slash, Kenny Aronoff, Reese Wynans, and Michael Rhodes, ‘Roses Are Black’ was crafted by founder and guitarist Thomas Tull, alongside producing and songwriting partners David Grissom and Kevin Bowe. The album was mixed by six-time Grammy Award-winning producer Vance Powell (Chris Stapleton, The White Stripes, Danger Mouse, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon) and engineered by Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin).

Ghost Hounds is a rock ‘n’ roll band at a time when the world needs more of them. The band’s new album recalls the universal appeal of rock’s ‘70s heyday, but with a fresh, crackling energy crafted by Tull, and voiced with fluid power by vocalist Tre’ Nation. The band’s gritty sound reflects the blue-collar heritage of its hometown of Pittsburgh; a versatile outfit whose music fits in an Iron City barroom or a stadium — such as the one in Maryland where Ghost Hounds opened for the Rolling Stones in July. There’s plenty of energy and rock ‘n’ roll abandon, along with tight playing and intricate songcraft.

“I think it’s a direct reflection of my own eclectic music tastes,” Tull says. “The Rolling Stones are my favorite band of all time, so a lot of this is inspired by the Stones. They fell in love with American blues. They have great country songs. Those things all appealed to me. Having all those different voices is important, and that’s what I want our band to have too.”

‘Roses Are Black’ certainly celebrates that diversity across its 12 tracks. “Bad News” spreads the good word of Ghost Hounds’ return by throttling up into some 12-bar fury, echoed later on in “Push That Rock Up the Hill” and “We Roll Hard.” “Skin in the Game” reflects that Stones love Tull speaks of, while “Black Rose” and “Fire Under Water” are classic rock tunes and “Almost Loved You” would sound at home in Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe. The group’s softer and soulful side is just as potent on tracks such as “When Your Shadow Touches Mine,” “Til It’s Gone” and “Second Time Around,” and Ghost Hounds’ treatment of “Devil Woman” shoots the Cliff Richards’ original through with high-test adrenaline, including biting guitar solos.

‘Roses Are Black’ represents an exciting new chapter in Ghost Hounds’ nearly 15-year story. Tull initially formed the band during the mid-2000s in Los Angeles, releasing a self-titled, Nile Rodgers-produced album in 2009. The group disbanded as Tull’s focus shifted elsewhere — starting a family and guiding his Legendary Entertainment to success with films such as the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman trilogy, the “Jurassic World” series, “Straight Outta Compton,” “The Hangover” and many more, along with comics, digital media and other ventures. But after selling Legendary in 2016, Tull still had the desire to, in the words of one of his songs, “push that old rock (and roll) back up the hill.”

“I missed music,” Tull explains. “I missed writing. I missed performing. I missed the camaraderie of a band. I decided this was something I really wanted to do.”

As the release of Roses Are Black approaches, Ghost Hounds’ new lineup – Tull, guitarist Johnny Baab, bassist Bennett Miller, drummer Blaise Lanzetta and powerhouse vocalist Tre Nation – are looking forward to making their case back on the road. “All of these songs to me just come alive in the band’s performance,” Tull says. “We tracked every song live, and we wanted this to be, in some ways, an old-fashioned record, where you can listen to the record and then go hear the band and say, ‘Yeah, that’s the song I heard.’ There’s nothing we can’t pull off live.”

‘ROSES ARE BLACK’ TRACKLIST
1. Bad News
2. Black Rose
3. When Your Shadow Touches Mine
4. Devil Woman
5. Til It’s Gone
6. We Roll Hard
7. Push That Rock Up The Hill
8. Skin In The Game
9. Fire Under Water
10. Second Time Around
11. Almost Loved You
12. Second Time Around (Acoustic)

GHOST HOUNDS TOUR DATES
Thursday, October 17th – PPG Paints Arena – Pittsburgh, PA^
Tuesday, October 22nd – King Center for the Performing Arts – Melbourne, FL*
Wednesday, October 23rd – Donald L. Tucker Civic Center – Tallahassee, FL*
Friday, October 25th – MGM National Harbor – Oxon Hill, MD*
Saturday, October 26th – The Wind Creek Event Center – Bethlehem, PA*
Sunday, October 27th – Foxwoods Resort Casino – Mashantucket, CT*
Tuesday, October 29th – Warner Theatre – Erie, PA*
Wednesday, October 30th – Wings Event Center – Kalamazoo, MI*
Friday, November 1st – the Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA^

^ opening for Bob Seger
* opening for ZZ Top

GHOST HOUNDS IS:
Vocals – TRE NATION
Guitar – JOHNNY BAAB
Guitar – THOMAS TULL
Bass – BENNETT MILLER
Drums – BLAISE LANZETTA
Keyboard – JOE MUNROE

The Band’s self-titled masterpiece celebrated with remixed and expanded 50th Anniversary Edition.

To Be Released On 15th November on UMG.

When The Band’s seminal eponymous second album was released fifty years ago on September 22, 1969, not much more was known about the reclusive group than when they released their landmark debut, Music From Big Pink to widespread critical praise and bewilderment, just the year before.

The band made up of four Canadians and one American was still shrouded in mystery, allowing for listeners and the music press to let their imaginations run wild about who these men were and what this music was that sounded unlike anything else happening at the close of the psychedelic ‘60s.

image of The Band by Eliott Landy, Woodstock, NY, 1968

After much searching, we found the perfect spot right outside their window. Or did it find us? Levon and Rick’s yard. Woodstock, NY, ’68

Dressed like 19th century fire-and-brimstone preachers and singing rustic, sepia-toned songs about America and the deep south, The BandGarth Hudson keyboards, piano, horn, Levon Helm drums, vocals, mandolin, Richard Manuel keyboards, vocals, drums, Rick Danko bass, vocals, fiddle and Robbie Robertson guitar, piano, vocals – was an enigma, unlike any group that came before or after.

And their self-titled “Brown Album,” as it would lovingly be called, cemented their status as one of the most exciting and revolutionary bands in years, on the strength of now-classic songs like “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Up On Cripple Creek” and “Rag Mama Rag.”

All the Anniversary Edition releases were overseen by Robertson and feature a new stereo mix by Bob Clearmountain from the original multi-track masters, similar to the acclaimed 50th Anniversary collections of last year’s Music From Big Pink releases.

The 50th Anniversary Edition’s CD, digital, and box set configurations also include 13 outtakes, featuring 6 previously unreleased outtakes and alternate recordings from The Band sessions, as well as The Band’s legendary Woodstock performance, which has never been officially released.

Clearmountain and Robertson’s approach to remixing the beloved album was done with the utmost care and respect for the music and what The Band represents. “The idea was to take you deeper inside the music, but this album is homemade,” Robertson says in the liner notes. “You can’t touch up, a painting. It has nothing to do with what you get when you go into a recording studio.”

When he expressed his concerns to Clearmountain, the renowned engineer and producer reassured him: “We’re just trying to overcome the original technological limitations in order to bring you closer into the room,” he explained. “I’m going to do everything in my power not to get in the way of this music at all.”

The result is a new mix that allows listeners to hear these classic songs in stunning, and oftentimes startling, clarity, packing more of a sonic and emotional punch than ever before. The included, early, and alternate versions offer fans the ability to hear the evolution of these tracks or as Robertson says, “That’s us trying to teach ourselves how to play these songs.”

After more than eight years of playing together, first as members of Ronnie Hawkins’ backing band, the Hawks, then as Levon & The Hawks and then as Bob Dylan’s backing band on his infamous 1965-66 tour, where they were booed nearly every night as they helped Dylan transition from folk to electric rock on his pivotal tour, Robertson, Danko, Manuel, and Hudson found a sanctuary in West Saugerties, New York at a house they dubbed “Big Pink.”

image of The Band by Elliott Landy, woodstock 1969

After much searching, we found the perfect spot right outside their window. Or did it find us? Levon and Rick’s yard. Woodstock, NY, ’68

Here they were able to get away from the chaos of the Dylan tour and work on their own music, often in the company of Dylan, who lived in nearby Woodstock. Over the next year, the foursome woodshedded songs and in this communal house had a relaxed, productive environment where they were free to create whenever the mood struck.

In October 1967, Helm, who left the Dylan tour to return home to the south for a stint, re-joined his friends and The Band was born. The group wrote new music and prepared to record their first full-length album. Out of this also sprung “The Basement Tapes” with Dylan.

Released in 1968, The Band’s game-changing debut album, Music from Big Pink, seemed to spring from nowhere and everywhere. Drawing from the American roots music panoply of country, blues, R&B, gospel, soul, rockabilly, the honking tenor sax tradition, hymns, funeral dirges, brass band music, folk, and rock ‘n’ roll, The Band forged a timeless new style that forever changed the course of popular music.

Shortly after the release of Music From Big Pink, bassist Rick Danko broke his neck in a serious car crash and was in traction resulting in The Band’s inability to tour. This only fueled the mystique as they had yet to play live and had only done a few mysterious interviews, including a Rolling Stone cover story featuring a photo of them with their backs to the camera.

Once Danko was healed, the guys relocated to Los Angeles to record their follow-up album. Searching for the same clubhouse vibe they had at Big Pink, they eschewed a traditional studio and moved into a house in the Hollywood Hills that had previously been owned by Sammy Davis Jr. The place had enough bedrooms that the group could reside there with their families and a pool house where they set up the studio.

While Capitol Records was dumbfounded the guys didn’t want to record in one of their state-of-the-art studios down the street, they ultimately relented and paid for the shipment of their equipment across the country. Recording here was not without its obstacles as getting an upright piano up to the house proved trying and since they were in a residential neighbourhood, the pool house needed to be soundproofed from the outside, which was quite a sight.

image of The Band, recording at Spencer Road, Woodstock, 1968

Robbie in the centre, Richard at the piano, rehearsing at Richard and Garth’s house on Spencer Road. Woodstock, NY, ’68

Following dinner together with their families in the main house, The Band, joined by co-producer John Simon who helped shape their sound, as on their debut, would shuffle off to their makeshift studio to write and record their masterpiece, working through the night and stopping around dawn. Listening to these dusty, rural songs, it’s hard to believe they weren’t written in the Appalachian Mountains but instead perched up in the hills overlooking Los Angeles’ sprawling, smoggy metropolis.

“It’s fitting then that the first song the group recorded for the album was “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” a Civil War story that was inspired by a visit Robertson made to Helm’s family in Marvell, Arkansas.

During one of their talks, Helm’s father insisted to Robertson that “The South will rise again!” “I felt that I understood something about Levon from meeting his family,” Robertson says. “I wanted to write a song that he could sing better than anyone in the world.” The song imbues the people of the South with a forlorn dignity much in contrast to their stereotypical portrayals in popular culture – and Helm’s heart-rending vocal tells the song’s story with consummate grace.

This was not the subject matter that other songwriters were mining from at the time and illustrated how The Band’s primary songwriter, Robertson, did not draw inspiration from typical rock sources, instead pulling from history and his love of classic films and screenplays. As DeCurtis writes in his included essay, Robertson “also found it inspiring to conceive of The Band as a kind of repertory theater in which Manuel, Helm and Danko, three extraordinary and versatile vocalists, could be cast like characters in a play – each song its own carefully drawn portrait of a time, place and person that the singer could fully occupy.”

Indeed, The Band explores America’s thorny history through indelible archetypes — “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” refers to Union cavalry officer George Stoneman’s attack on southwestern Virginia in the last days of the Civil War, “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)” is sung from the perspective of a poverty-stricken farmer who becomes a “union man” to his disappointment, and “Up on Cripple Creek” is about a truck driver’s debauched time with a local girl in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“It was a complicated record,” Helm wrote in his memoir, “This Wheel’s On Fire.” “We wanted to make one that you didn’t really get until the second time you played it.”

Shortly before releasing their sophomore effort, The Band played their second-ever show at Woodstock in front of nearly half a million people. Originally slated to close the festival, they opted to let Jimmy Hendrix end the three-day counterculture gathering so they could play earlier in the evening to better suit their music.

By the time they went on around 10 pm, the rowdy masses were battered by a weekend of rough weather, loud music and an untold amount of substances and as Helm recounted in “Wheel,” “You kind of felt you were going into a war,” he wrote. “There weren’t any dressing rooms because they’d been turned into emergency clinics . . . The crowd was real tired and a little unhealthy.” Yet, The Band persevered and when they started to perform what Robertson calls “hymns,” a spell descended on the crowd and everyone mellowed out.

image of The Band by Elliott Landy

The Band by Elliott Landy

For the first time, this transfixing 11-song performance can now be heard in full as part of the Super Deluxe boxed set. Being only The Band’s second show, the set focuses heavily on songs from Music From Big Pink, including “The Weight,” “Long Black Veil,” “Tears Of Rage,” “Chest Fever” and “This Wheel’s On Fire,” as well as their rendition of The Four Tops’ “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever.”

The Band was released on September 22, 1969, and made an immediate cultural impact. As DeCurtis writes, “it further enhanced the distinctive reputation The Band had earned with Music from Big Pink without at all diminishing the ineffable, category-defying quality of its music. The days of the group being a so-called ‘underground’ band were over.

In short order, The Band appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ one of only two television appearances the group would ever make, and it had a hit single with ‘Up on Cripple Creek.’ In addition, The Band appeared on the cover of Time magazine in January of 1970, the first North American group ever to do so.

The Band was instantly hailed by the press with The Village Voice’s chief music critic and senior editor Robert Christgau, calling it an “A-plus record if I’ve ever rated one” and deeming it “even better” than the Beatles’ classic Abbey Road, released the same week.

Ralph J. Gleason wrote in his glowing review for Rolling Stone: “It is full of sleepers, diamonds that begin to glow at different times. As with the Beatles and Dylan and the Stones and Crosby-Stills and Nash, the album seems to change shape as you continue to play it. The emphasis shifts from song to song and songs prominent in the early listening will retreat and be replaced in your consciousness by others, only in later hearings to move to the fore again. Little things pop up unexpectedly after numerous listenings and the whole thing serves as a definition of what Gide meant by the necessity of art having density.”

The Band is preserved in the National Recording Registry and is included in the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You DieRolling Stone crowned “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” the 249th greatest song of all time and The Band No. 45 in their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Time included it in their unranked 2006 list of the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time. The Band was inducted into the GRAMMY® Hall Of Fame in 1999 and in 2017 won The Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize.

In 2018, the album was awarded a rare perfect 10 by Pitchfork in their Sunday Review, in which they exclaimed, “But ultimately, this record needed to be called The Band because it’s about the Band—how these men worked together, the way their personalities intersected and completed each other, the very architecture of their friendship.

The album dispels all of the assumptions we carry about how bands are supposed to work—the songwriter is all-powerful, the rhythm section is the supporting cast, hierarchies are inevitable. The Band instead operates on a paradigm in which the power comes from the bottom up and authority is dispersed evenly among compatriots.” Now, listeners can experience that brotherhood once more on The Band (50th Anniversary Edition), in which five visionaries ended up capturing the soul of America with an album, that’s influence still ripples through current music today five decades later.

image of The Band's 50th Anniversary Edition of their self-titled album cover and discs

The Band 50th Anniversary Edition

For More Info – The Band (50th Anniversary Edition)

 

The post THE BAND – 50th Anniversary Edition Release appeared first on Blues Matters Magazine.

Actor/singer/songwriter Jake La Botz has a new album due out on October 18. They’re Coming For Me will be released on the Hi-Style Records imprint and is La Botz’ eighth.

The eclectic subject matter of They’re Coming For Me reflects La Botz’ own wide-ranging interests and unconventional career arc. He’s experienced the highest highs and lowest lows of life, including racing across the Midwest in stolen cars, finding refuge in the early 80’s punk scene, touring tattoo parlors for years because his music doesn’t fit in noisy bars, playing guitar in an all-Black church in LA, educating himself in public libraries, acting in Hollywood movies, and, most important, kicking a years-long drug addiction.

La Botz is not just some flash-in-the-pan bluesman. He’s been paying his dues for years after learning from elder blues legends like David “Honeyboy” Edwards, “Homesick” James and “Maxwell Street” Jimmy Davis who took him under their wing. It set him up for a life of storytelling on the streets, in subways, juke joints, and eventually on the big screen and stages around the world. A noted film and stage actor, La Botz approaches music with an ear for the unusual, and a knack for speaking for the fragile characters and half-mad sages he encounters on his own travels. This new album is a collection of tall tales and strange stories ranging in subject from a magic comb that can save the world, to a bank robber who moans gospel hymns, and a confessional from Bigfoot himself.

As for “Shaken and Taken,” Jake explains it this way:

Has to do with the power, energy, and joy that comes from giving over to the unseen, mysterious vastness of Being itself. Christians sometimes call that unseen force the Holy Ghost. “This soul is occupied” is an obvious riff on “this seat is occupied”. The point is that if the soul is occupied by the vastness of Being then one’s seat in this life, what a person’s individual life is for, can really come through rather than trying to fit into one’s own, or someone else’s, expectations. There is “no church big enough to hold my joy” at that point because the deepest truth about one’s own life and what they have to give to the world can’t be constrained by dogma or hierarchical systems. It can only be known by being carried over to “the other side”, by the vastness of Being showing up moment by moment. It’s “shaken” because the ego can’t control it. It’s “taken” because it no longer belongs to “me”- it belongs to everyone else and all of life.

“Shaken and Taken” has a foot-stomping, vintage, roots Gospel feel. The combination of greasy guitar, honky-tonk piano and La Botz’ overmodulated vocal delivery give it a “live” sound, as if we’re experiencing it in his very own church. That is, if there one big enough to hold his joy. It’s offered as a bonus track on They’re Coming For Me, but we see it more as a gift. We’re sure you will too.

Jake La Botz

*Feature image Rik Van de Wiel

In 1970, after having played in a band called the Epics together, a couple of Toms in Gainesville, Florida found themselves in a band they called Mudcrutch. Tom Petty and Tom Leadon, brother of Flying Burrito Brothers member and Eagles co-founder Bernie Leadon, were just kids when they started meeting in the park to work on harmonies. They liked the way their voices sounded together, and they knew they were onto something. Before record deals in Los Angeles, there was the nightly gig at Dub’s Steer Room and the weekly music festivals on the Mudcrutch Farm where Petty, Mike Campbell, and Randall Marsh lived and split $75 in monthly rent three ways. Tom Leadon departed the band in 1972, and in ‘74 Mudcrutch had moved to Los Angeles to sign a contract with Shelter Records. By 1976, Petty, Campbell, and Benmont Tench had formed the Heartbreakers with bassist Ron Blair and drummer Stan Lynch.

Mudcrutch in the 1970s Photo: Red Slater

“We stay down on Depot Street / Just dancin’ in the park,” sang Petty in the disarmingly catchy Mudcrutch single that failed to chart in 1974. And Depot Street is now the street on which a Tom Petty festival is held: the Tom Petty Birthday Bash at Depot Park. The Birthday Bash was organized in 2017 by Jason Hedges, frontman for Heavy Petty — a local Tom Petty tribute band esteemed by many. This event is scheduled from October 18th – 20th. A couple blocks from Depot Park is Heartwood Soundstage, a venue also hosting a Tom Petty Weekend from October 17th to October 19th. Tom Leadon performed Tom Petty Weekend last year and is blithe to play it again this year, he tells me. “I feel very glad to be a part of the Tom Petty Birthday Weekend at the Heartwood. It’s always great to come back to Gainesville, my hometown, and it is really special to perform to honor the life and the great music of my dear friend, Tom Petty, right there where I have so many memories of being with him.” Leadon and his band, The Bayjacks, will be playing Saturday night, October 19, at the Heartwood Soundstage. The Bayjacks are based out of Nashville, where Tom plies his trade as a songwriter and guitar teacher.

When Leadon was in Gainesville last year, he was also able to attend the sign dedication and renaming of Northeast Park to Tom Petty Park that same weekend. “I did not attend the first festival because I was in Los Angeles for the funeral, which was October 16. I flew back to Tennessee the next day and I was in no kind of shape emotionally to go out and perform. I can’t remember if I was invited to that first one. I received several requests to play tribute shows right away, but I was not ready to do that until I came down to Gainesville last year. I heard that the first one was a very spontaneous expression of love and appreciation for Tom and his music. And last year was the same, except more organized and on a bigger scale.”

As a longtime collaborator and best friend of Petty’s, the ceremony meant so much to him. “The park, which was known as City Park when we grew up there, was a very special place for Tom and it is still a very special place for me. We both played there together a lot as kids, before we met, then as teenagers we often hung out there together. It was a safe place where no one would hassle us and we could just relax. And I think It was the best possible way that the city could have honored him.”

Tom Petty Park sign

The disbanding of Mudcrutch always felt a little unsettled — unfinished business and untapped potential. And in Tom Petty’s Promethean mind, as with everything else he touched, he always had to tie up any loose ends. He just had to record those albums that Mudcrutch never got to make. Even 32 years later. Leadon received a call from Petty and thought he was joking at first when he told him he wanted to get the band playing together again. “He said that he felt there was some really good music back there with Mudcrutch and that he wanted to finally bring that out where the public could hear it and see what we could do together at that time as a reunited group. He wanted to try to do the same styles of music that we used to do, which was country rock and jam band rock.”

Interviews that Leadon did with filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich in 2006 may have had a hand in spurring the Mudcrutch reunion on as well. The Bogdanovich rockumentary, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream, is a full biography organized chronologically with serious depth into the inflection points in Tom’s life that shaped his character and his approach to music. I knew the Tower Road Branch of the Alachua County Library District in Gainesville had one copy when it came out, and I may or may not have checked it out a couple dozen times from 2007 to 2009.

“Peter told me when he came to Nashville to film my part of the movie that Tom was thinking about it. Tom‘s daughter, Adria, watched some of my interview from the movie with him (a lot of which was not in the movie) and she says that’s what sealed the deal. That Tom said some wonderful things about me then, how I just loved him and had never asked him for anything, and how he just had to get back together with me.”

And get back together they did, also rejoining forces with original Mudcrutch drummer Randall Marsh. At long last, wishes were fulfilled — for band members and fans. The dirt and decrepitude of the Mudcrutch Farm would not be lost to the detritus of history. The reunion saw two masterpiece albums, the eponymous Mudcrutch in 2008 and Mudcrutch 2 in 2016. It’s well-nigh impossible for me to pick favorites from each, but Leadon can narrow down a few favorites that he is still thrilled to play. “I always loved ‘Wrong Thing To Do,’ ‘Shady Grove,’ and ‘Dreams of Flying.’”

“Dreams of Flying” was my favorite on 2. Until, no, “Save your Water” was definitely my favorite. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a tie. From the first time you hear the opening chord of “Dreams of Flying,” you already know it’s going to possess that certain je ne sais quoi of only the finest Petty song. You know, one of those just-under-four-minutes-of-existential-relief kind of barn burners that you can’t listen to at any volume less than loud. “Save your Water” also seems to capture the quiddity of Mudcrutch’s sound — their Southern authenticity — so much so that I was actually curious about it being one of their early originals. “Yes. That was one of Tom’s first songs from 1969, when we still played with The Epics, who were called Mudcrutch by then. He wrote the 2nd and 3rd verse lyrics in 2016, because he couldn’t remember the original ones,” Leadon explains.

“Queen of the Go-Go Girls” from the debut Mudcrutch reunion album reminisces on the Dub’s Steer Room days when they were the house band of the topless bar in Gainesville. I hear Leadon’s guitar work and supernal singing kick in and I’m thinking if your gut is telling you to go with the first take, then you should definitely listen to your gut. “Yes. Everything was live, including my lead vocal, except Tom overdubbed his harmony vocal.”

There could have only been one thing missing from Mudcrutch from the outset, a certain element of refinement, and that is one Benmont Tench. “Yes, he added a lot of wonderful things, including a fullness. When Tom first called me to ask me to do the first album, I asked him if he thought we could could get Benmont to do it, because I knew he would enhance everything so well without changing our essential sound and chemistry. Ben and I had never been in the band together before, except for the couple times he sat in before I left in ‘72. I always admired his work with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.”

What can Tom disclose about The Bayjacks’ setlist for this year’s Tom Petty Weekend? “I’m sorry, that is top-secret information. Not even the U.S. House Committee on Rock ‘n’ Roll is going to get to see it, because I’m claiming executive privilege! Just kidding! I can tell you that we’re going to have a few new songs that we didn’t play last year and then we’re going to do a lot of the same ones we did before: the Mudcrutch songs and a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers number, as well as an Eagles song that I wrote, and several of our originals that will be on our album we are working on.”

And as for what’s next for the Bayjacks: “We want to keep growing together artistically and to try to get some good music out there where people can enjoy it. We will be finishing our first album as soon as we can, and meanwhile I am trying to get our studio version of my song, “My Best Old Friend,” which is about the passing of Tom Petty, finished and released as a single on all the digital music markets — hopefully before we play in Gainesville this October 19. So I better get back to work!”

As I reflect on the 2nd anniversary of his passing, I still feel at a loss. I still feel as though there is a Tom Petty-shaped void in the universe. But I still have the life force of the turntable at my fingertips in perpetuum. I still have his words and music, as I’ve always needed them, to make the good times better and the hard times count for something. For that I am pretty grateful. I am also grateful that these festivals for Tom exist. They are more than just stages and bands. Rather, one person bringing many people together to sing all his songs and celebrate his life on his birthday. For superfans who are surrounded by others who feel the same way, it can also serve as a healing retreat.

Tom Leadon leaves me with these words: “Tommy was the closest friend I’ve ever had in my life and he was truly a wonderful, unique person who was a natural entertainer and so much fun to be with. And I miss him terribly. It means a lot to me to come to Gainesville, where we grew up and spent so much time together, to honor his life and his music and to perform for his fans. I am very pleased to have my own band, The Bayjacks, now. I’m enjoying it a lot and I’m hoping that the people there will enjoy our music also.”

For more information on the festivals, visit these websites:

Tom Petty Weekend at Heartwood Soundstage

Tom Petty Birthday Bash

The Bayjacks

*Feature image Peter Hutchins

Marcus King will release his debut solo record, El Dorado, on January 17th, 2019. The album is produced by Grammy Award winner Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. King and Auerbach co-wrote 12 songs for the album in just three days at Easy Eye Sound Studio. The 23-year-old is set to embark on 32 date tour in support of El Dorado.

“Marcus is known by so many as a phenom guitar player, and rightfully so. He’s regularly the best player in the room, hands down,” said Auerbach. “I was equally blown away by the way he can sing – so effortless, so soulful, straight from the heart. He’s a naturally gifted writer too, which was clear right away. Everything for him is so innate – that’s why he can always go right to the heart of a song and connect in a deeper way. He’s really one of a kind and I’m proud I got to work alongside him on this record.”

“The Well” is the first single released off the record featuring fuzzy, electric guitar as King sings about hard times.

“When you have a $70 check go bad, you know times are tough,” says King, “The Well for me symbolises the source of all my influences. It is everything that has happened to me to make me the man I am today.”

TRACK LIST: 

  1. YOUNG MAN’S DREAM (3:08)
  2. THE WELL (2:57)
  3. WILDFLOWERS & WINE (4:48)
  4. ONE DAY SHE’S HERE (3:47)
  5. SWEET MARIONA (2:35)
  6. BEAUTIFUL STRANGER (4:07)
  7. BREAK (3:01)
  8. SAY YOU WILL (3:54)
  9. TURN IT UP (3:38)
  10. TOO MUCH WHISKEY (3:54)
  11. LOVE SONG (2:32)
  12. NO PAIN (3:54)

Produced by Dan Auerbach
Recorded and Engineered by M. Allen Parker at Easy Eye Sound
Assistant Engineering by Alex Skelton and Caleb VanBuskirk
Mixed by M. Allen Parker and Dan Auerbach at Easy Eye Sound
Mastered by Richard Dodd

TOUR DATES

OCT 31 THU – Kansas City, MO – The Truman
NOV 1 FRI – Wichita, KS – Orpheum Theatre
NOV 2 SAT – Columbia, MO – The Blue Note
NOV 3 SUN – Omaha, NE – Slowdown
NOV 5 TUE – Fayetteville, AR – George’s Majestic Lounge
NOV 7 THU – Birmingham, AL – Iron City
NOV 8 FRI – Mobile, AL – Soul Kitchen
NOV 9 SAT – Memphis, TN – Minglewood Hall
NOV 10 SUN – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
NOV 12 TUE – Bloomington, IL – Castle Theatre
NOV 14 THU – Cincinatti, OH – Bogart’s
NOV 15 FRI – Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue
NOV 16 SAT – Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom
NOV 17 SUN – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall
NOV 19 TUE – Grand Rapids, MI – The Intersection
NOV 21 THU – Iowa City, IA – The Englert Theatre
NOV 22 FRI – Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theater
NOV 23 SAT – Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre
DEC 3 TUE – Macon, GA – Macon City Auditorium – Marcus King Solo,
DEC 5 THU – Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theatre
DEC 6 FRI – Durham, NC – Carolina Theater
DEC 7 SAT – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls Theatre
DEC 8 SUN – Washington DC – 9:30 Club
DEC 10 TUE – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
DEC 12 THU – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew’s Hall
DEC 13 FRI – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
DEC 14 SAT – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
DEC 15 SUN – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
DEC 17 TUE – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
DEC 18 WED – Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
DEC 19 THU – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
DEC 20 FRI – Northampton, MA – Calvin Theatre & Perf Arts Center
DEC 21 SAT – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre
JAN 7-12 – Jam Cruise 2020 – Marcus King solo, Miami, FL, United States
JAN 24-28 – Panic En La Playa Nueve, Puerto Alvaro Obregon, Mexico
APR 10-12 – Byron Bay Bluesfest. Tyagarah, Australia

Revolution Hall has become one of my favorite venues in Portland, Oregon for a number of reasons. First it’s easy to find, second it has plenty of cheap parking around back, third it has great acoustics and fourth there isn’t a bad seat in the entire house with a capacity of under a thousand. On Tuesday, September 24, 2019 the featured artist that I came to see was Samantha Fish who was opening for Louisiana blues rocker Marc Brousard.

The show started promptly at 8:00 pm as Samantha Fish and band took the stage by storm opening with “Bulletproof” from her new release Kill to be Kind, her sixth solo album and first on “Rounder Records.” She was using her four string “Stogie Box Blues cigar box” guitar that she’s been using since 2012 when she purchased it from a vendor in Helena, Arkansas when she played at the “King Biscuit Blues Festival.” She used a slide with it with it to create a throbbing, driving beat as she sang “I’d turn it on you, turn it on you, I’d turn it on you, but you’re bulletproof.” The intensity that the band played with mesmerized the crowd in the sold out auditorium.

Samantha Fish

“Kill to be Kind,” the title song off her new album was next as she picked up a white Gibson guitar and dove into the somewhat jazzier composition with a suggestive beat that she augmented with her soaring vocals like one of Odysseus’s sirens. While the rest of the band kept the song going she changed guitars once again, this time to a custom made “Delaney” but it didn’t matter which one she used she rocked out guitar pyrotechnics to the max on them all. She is an incredible performer with a stage presence and talent that exceeds the capacity of the venue. “Watch it Die” was also from the new album and Samantha told the crowd that they were doing selections from it since it was just released last Friday and would be available after the show.

Fish introduced the band made up of her on lead guitar and vocals, Phil Breen on keyboards, Chris Alexander on bass and Scott Graves on drums. Marc Brousard’s horn section comprised of Jimmie Reamie on trumpet and Jason Parfiat on alto sax also joined in for a portion of her set to expand the audio diversity. Eight of the ten songs performed were from Kill to be Kind and offered the opportunity for a continual flow of raging guitar driven tunes like “You Got It Bad.” “You got it bad, you got it bad, better than you ever had,” she rapturously sang. Drummer Scott Graves played with a red hot gusto that was as intense as the guitar solos that Samantha performed, with his mane of hair swirling around his head as he relentlessly flailed away on his drum kit. The tight interplay between band members exponentially expanded the sound that vibrated with raw passion as each song’s performance pulled out all the stops.

Samantha Fish

Songs like “Dirty” offered an opportunity for Phil Breen’s keyboards to shine as Samantha’s luscious voice alternated with her sonic guitar peals accompanied by Chris Alexander’s metronomically throbbing bass. The additional horn section raised the sound bar a notch higher as the band proceeded to raise the roof. Between songs she asked the crowd if they were having a good time and said “that’s all I care about.”

For the final song of Fish’s forty-five minutes she once again traded her Gibson for her cigar box four string to rock the house with “Crow Jane Blues” from her 2017 release Chills and Fever. The song was originally recorded by Julius Daniels during the 1920’s and later recorded by a series of blues artists including the Rev. Gary Davis and Skip James and is considered part of the Piedmont blues legacy. Samantha played the four string with a slide as she drove the band into a frenzy while she sang, “don’t you hold you head to high ‘cause, someday, babe, you know, you gotta die.” The song ended in a blazing flurry of exploding sound concluding with the band taking a bow and promptly leaving the stage without an encore to allow the stage crew to set up for Marc Brousard.

Review by Bob Gersztyn

Album Review for Tony Cuchetti & Joe FilipovichTin Can Tunes – Released Independently.

As I read the sleeve notes I was taken aback somewhat when I read Hayburner guitar, in actual fact it’s an oil can guitar made from antique gas cans.

Anyway, as the first track Mess Around kicked in I soon got to hear what this guitar really sounded like. Put together with Tony’s vocals and acoustic guitar playing it made for a great opening track. Roots mixed with country blues; I really like this album already.

Most of the tunes on the album are written by Tony and Joe together or individually but Big River is not one of them. A brilliant song covered so well by these two guys, the simple but effective lyrics give you the sense of gently drifting down, say the mighty Mississippi aboard a paddle-steamer.

Now that’s not an easy thing to do, especially as a duo, but Tony and Joe pull it off magnificently. IJ is a dark eerie tune that co-habits with the oil can guitar brilliantly. This song grows steadily whilst still retaining its dark side to become one of the best tracks on the album.

Six Feet Underground is an example of how good their own songs are. Their own material is so good that they needn’t cover anyone else’s songs. That’s not a condemnation but an observation.

Do Your Thing is very laid-back easy listening. The way the guys gel so well both musically and lyrically is a joy to behold. I really can’t find anything negative about this album at all.

Tommy C is for me the standout track on the album. Tony’s vocals are so good here alongside stunning percussion that gives the song an almost calypso type beat. Vocals coming to the fore that left me in awe of such a fine performance.

Amazing Grace finishes the album superbly. I’ve heard many different versions of this song/hymn but I’ve never heard it on harmonica before. At just1.25 minutes guest harmonica player Indiara Sfair plays it beautifully. This is a really good album.

Album Review by Stephen Harrison

For More Info – Joe & Tony

 

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