The Losers Lounge - Tribute to David Bowie
Onetime Psychedelic Fur Joe McGinty and his collection of ringers, The Losers Lounge, are more or less The Big Apple’s answer to Nashville homage-payers The Long Players. They’re a crew of pop fetishists (with more than a few impressive credits under their own collective belt, by the way) who perform bimonthly tributes to heavyweights the likes of Burt Bacharach, Devo, The Pretenders, Blondie, ABBA, The Zombies and countless more. And if ever there’s been a glamster worthy of the designation “icon,” and thus deserving of the Losers’ tributary prowess, it’s The Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, Ziggy Stardust himself, the artist once known as David Robert Jones, who — had he not turned down knighthood in 2003, which is of course a badass move — we’d also be calling Sir Bowie. Thanks to his many gloriously bold reinventions and his arsenal of androgynous charisma, no one ever forgets Bowie’s impact. What is sometimes overshadowed by his persona, however, is just how absurdly talented the guy is: He plays saxophone, guitar, harmonica, viola, cello, keys and all sorts of percussion — and hell, you’ve heard the dude’s voice. So, big shoes to fill. But McGinty has rounded up a crew of top-notch Music City players to fill in Losers Lounge South’s lineup, and local luminaries including Brendan Benson, Roy “Futureman” Wooten and Sam Bush are slated as guest vocalists. Let’s boogaloo, dudes.
Nashville TN | Country
Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist Sam Bush doesn't seem old enough to be a musical legend. And he's not. But he is.
Alternately known as the King of Telluride and the King of Newgrass, Bush has been honored by the Americana Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association.
"It's overwhelming and humbling," Bush says of his lifetime achievement award from the AMA. "It goes along with the title cut of my new album, Circles Around Me, which basically says, how in the hell did we get this far? In my brain I'm still 17, but I look in the mirror and I'm 57."
But honors are not what drive him. "I didn't get into music to win awards," he says. "I'm just now starting to get somewhere. I love to play and the older I get the more I love it. And I love new things."
Among those new things are the growing group of mandolin players that identify Bush as their musical role model in much the same way he idolized Bill Monroe and Jethro Burns.
"If I've been cited as an influence, then I'm really flattered because I still have my influences that I look up to," Bush says. "I'm glad that I'm in there somewhere."
He's being humble, of course. Bush has helped to expand the horizons of bluegrass music, fusing it with jazz, rock, blues, funk and other styles. He's the co-founder of the genre-bending New Grass Revival and an in-demand musician who has played with everyone from Emmylou Harris and Bela Fleck to Charlie Haden, Lyle Lovett and Garth Brooks.
And though Bush is best known for jaw-dropping skills on the mandolin, he is also a three time national junior fiddle champion and Grammy award winning vocalist.
"In the acoustic world, I've been pretty lucky to play with almost every one of my heroes. I've gotten to play with Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, I've been to the mountain," says Bush with a smile.
But his greatest contribution may be his impact on the future. "I'm secure with what I can do and I know what I can't do," he says. "You just have to stand there and applaud the great young talent.
"Chris Thile, Wayne Benson, Shawn Lane, Matt Flinner, Ronnie McCoury, Mike Marshall—they play in ways that I can't play," he says of today's younger generation of mandolin players. "I'm hoping to be around for is the next generation that comes along after that group. That's going to be something. The music keeps evolving.
Circles Around Me, Bush's seventh solo album and sixth with Sugar Hill, is an aurally inspiring mix of bluegrass favorites and complementary new songs. "I don't know why, but it felt right at this moment in my life to go back and revisit some things that I've loved all my life, which is bluegrass and, unapologetically, newgrass," says Bush. "After all these years of experimenting —and there's experimentation on this record too —I've come full circle."
Produced by Bush, the 14-song set includes appearances by Del McCoury, Edgar Meyer, Jerry Douglas and New Grass Revival co-founder Courtney Johnson (posthumously). The album also employs the phenomenal talent of Bush's band: Scott Vestal, Stephen Mougin, Byron House and Chris Brown.
"I get to play every show with my favorite musicians and I feel real fortunate," Bush says of his band. "I love playing with them. I feel like this group is limitless and they proved it again on this record."
The title cut, which Bush co-wrote with Jeff Black, "is about being thankful that you're still here, that you're still alive walking around," Bush explains. "Why are we the ones still here when we've had fallen comrades and loved ones?"
"The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle," which Bush co-wrote with Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson, is the haunting real-life story of the 1973 murder of Grand Ole Opry star David "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife.
Bush and Courtney Johnson, who died in 1996, were reunited thanks to New Grass Revival producer Garth Fundis, who found a previously unreleased recording with Bush and Johnson's fiddle and banjo pairing on "Apple Blossom" from 1976. "It's pretty special and means a lot to me."
Meanwhile, "Souvenir Bottles" and "Whisper My Name" are fine updates of songs Bush first recorded in his New Grass Revival days. "I guess I'm proud that I can still sing it in the key that we first cut it in," Bush says of "Whisper," which was on New Grass Revival's 1972 debut album.
Del McCoury, whom Bush first met in 1970, guests on two Bill Monroe songs, "Roll On Buddy, Roll On" and "Midnight On The Stormy Deep." "Del always encouraged me to sing," Bush says. "So I wanted to do these songs with him. 'Roll On' is one of the few songs Del ever recorded with Bill."
Songs such as "Diamond Joe" and "You Left Me Alone" have roots in Bush's youth. The latter was on an album by the Country Gentlemen that Bush bought in the '60s. "It's a great 6/8 fast waltz tune and I am almost quoting John Duffey's mandolin playing note for note," he says. "It's a great tune and I've never heard anyone else do it."
The Bush-penned "Old North Woods" is a "Bill Monroe-sounding waltz," according to Bush, that features Meyer, his wife, Cornelia Heard of the Blair String Quartet, and their 16-year-old son, George, in his recording debut.
"With Emmy I learned more about singing and more about letting music breathe and I hope this CD is part of that thought," Bush says of Emmylou Harris, his former boss in the Nash Ramblers. "Through her I realized you don't have to whack people over the head with intensity on every song."
There's plenty more of course and Bush fans new and old will find lots to love.
"It's crazy to think about," Bush says of his influence on today's crop of mandolin players. "I'm proud to be part of a natural progression in music. And I hope to still be playing 30 years from now."
That said, it's not surprising that Bush still has goals. "I want to grow as a songwriter, as a song collaborator," he says. "There are still a lot of things I haven't discovered about playing mandolin. I want to be able to be secure in the styles that I know how to play well, but I also want to explore other styles that I haven't learned yet.
"I want to improve as a singer," he adds. "I have to work harder on singing than I do on playing."
"As long as I'm alive I hope I have the ability to play," says Bush, a two time cancer treatment survivor. When the ability to play is taken away, it's humbling. It teaches you a lesson: don't take it for granted."
Here's to the next 30 years.
Nashville TN | Alternative
As much as the story behind Brendan Benson's fifth solo album is the story of making a record, it is also a story of finding a family -- of love, marriage, the birth of a son, and of another kind of family too: one made up of all of the musicians, music-lovers and friends, who have helped to make these songs and build a label to carry them.
Over the years, Benson grew accustomed to doing things alone, releasing four solo albums to date, starting with 1996's "One Mississippi" and followed by 2002's "Lapalco" and 2005's "Alternative to Love." After a brief hiatus when he co-founded The Raconteurs and spent a few years touring and releasing two albums with them, he made a return to solo work with 2009's "My Old Familiar Friend." It was around this time that he also decided to relocate from Detroit to Nashville, a move that would set in motion events and relationships that would eventually form the backbone to his latest offering, "What Kind of World" (Readymade, 2012).
"Marriage and having a kid was the big thing," Benson says of the years between this record and "My Old Familiar Friend." Having welcomed his son, Declan, in the spring of 2010, the effect on his music was apparent: "I think it's given me a whole new motivation, a new vigor," he says. "If I was having a doubtful moment, I could think of Declan and think 'I'm doing this for him.'"
The songs on "What Kind of World" reflect this new clarity. "I think on this record I'm saying a lot of things I never thought I would say," says Benson. "Maybe I'm just getting older, but I don't want to hide now in my songs, I just want to be truthful. And I'm realizing that the truth is really interesting -- I'm more attracted to honesty these days than to convolution." It's a sentiment that surfaces and rings out on the album's showstopper, "Bad For Me" -- a dazzling, irresistible tale of a destructive kind of love. "Lyrically on this song, I'm going out on a limb," Benson says. "I'm out of my comfort zone, and speaking really plainly. It's a song where I realized the truth is far more compelling."
Many of these songs are a testament to the friendships Benson has cultivated in Nashville. Musicians such as Jon Auer (The Posies, Big Star) and Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star, REM), both of whom Benson met at a concert to honor Alex Chilton, and Brad Pemberton (Ryan Adams' Cardinals), Mark Watrous (Loudermilk, Gosling), and Sam Farrar (Phantom Planet) are members of his newfound musical family who have contributed to the creation of Benson's album.
The spur of inspiration came from elsewhere as well: songwriting collaborations with rising talent Young Hines and country singer Ashley Monroe (Pistol Annies), which eventually led to the creation of "Keep Me" and "Pretty Baby," respectively. Another track, "Thru the Ceiling," was written with local writer-producer Jay Joyce, and for "No One Else But You," Benson tracked down a couple of horn players after a half-remembered conversation at a recent party.
Recorded at Welcome to 1979 in Nashville, engineered by Joe Costa and produced and mixed by Benson himself, "What Kind of World" will be released on Benson's own label, Readymade -- a venture that has proved new and exciting while simultaneously restoring a little faith in the power of good people and good music.
A year ago, Brendan was in the process of finding a new label, which led to a disheartening discussion with his manager concerning the matter. With each new record he had been forced to find a new label and acquaint himself with a new group of people from managers to marketing departments. When his manager suggested that they put the album out themselves, it felt like the right move.
The idea for the name of his label dates back to 1995, when Benson was newly signed to Virgin Records and putting out a limited edition EP. "I was doing the artwork, and I just stuck my own imaginary label on there -- the name came from Marcel Duchamp, and his readymade objects."
The creation of Readymade not only led to the hand-picked selection of a passionate team for "What Kind of World," but it also allows the option for artists Benson has produced to have a home with the Readymade family as well. In 2011, in addition to producing his own album, Benson produced for The Lost Brothers (Ireland), Young Hines, Leah Mason (UK), and Cory Chisel, with additional producing projects already scheduled for 2012. "I've never done this before," he says with evident delight, "but it's cool to do it totally on my terms."
The multiple outside sources of inspiration and the support from family and friends have left Benson truly excited with "What Kind of World." It also helps that it passed the test with his ultimate critic. "When I got my record back from mixing, I knew I had to listen to it," Benson recalls. "My wife, Declan, and I were all in the room, and we cranked up the volume. Straight away Declan started dancing. He was throwing it down, he just wore himself out by the fourth or fifth song. And then he fell asleep in my arms. I walked around the room with him like that, and it was the coolest, most perfect thing. I knew, then, that I loved my record."
- Laura Barton
Roy Futureman Wooten
Nashville TN |
Roy “Futureman” Wooten is a five-time Grammy Award-winning, American musician. Internationally known as the inventor of the Drumitar and percussionist/founding member of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, he has reached unprecedented heights within the possibilities of percussion and composition. Whether playing traditional drums with a jazz combo, conducting his own symphony, or performing with the Flecktones, Futureman continues to reinvent and fascinate audiences and peers alike with each recent development in his mysterious world of creation. He is the second eldest of the Wooten Brothers (five brothers known for playing their respective instruments with paralyzing skill). As young children they began playing in the front yard for passers by and eventually went on to join the Arista Records roster and open for such acts as WAR, Curtis Mayfield, the Temptations, and Stephanie Mills. Futureman is the drummer of the bunch, but his insatiable thirst for innovation, technology, and exploration eventually resulted in the advent of the Drumitar, an instrument of his own invention which incorporates MIDI, trigger pads, and drum samples.
As a songwriter, Bill DeMain has written for - and with - such artists as Marshall Crenshaw, Kim Richey, Boo Hewerdine, Bleu, Marti Jones, Jill Sobule, Farrah and David Mead. He’s also one half of the pop duo Swan Dive. Since their 1997 debut, they have released nine albums, captivating fans around the world - from Tokyo to Seoul to New York City. Along the way, they’ve appeared on Late Night With Conan O’ Brien, opened shows for such artists as Norah Jones, Janis Ian and Sixpence None The Richer, and twice won Best Pop Album in the Independent Music Awards. Their songs have appeared in TV shows such as Felicity and The L Word, as well as in commercials for Samsung, Laneige and Sky Mobile. DeMain is also a member of the acclaimed kids’ band Davey Ukulele & The Gag Time Gang, as well as a music journalist who regularly contributes to such publications as MOJO, Classic Rock and Mental Floss. He wrote the liner notes for the Grammy-nominated box set The Look Of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection, and The Sterling Huck Letters (Rutledge Hill Press), a book of humorous prank letters.
Kim is the lead singer/guitarist for Kim's Fable. Kim's Fable's cultured brand of rock'n'roll draws on influences worldwide, creating songs that are rich with lush melodies and tribal rhythmic patterns, and explosive with high-octane guitar and heavy-handed drums. The end result is music that is intelligent and intriguing to the listener with a critical ear, but still accessible and easily enjoyed by the masses.
Mark's music is the good kind. The kind that pulls at your soul and eats away at you until you cannot get enough. Mark's music shouldn't be the kind that is unknown, it is the kind that you should shout from the rooftops. Banging your feet to 'Pull Your Train' and never giving up on your dreams while chanting 'Put It Down'.
New York NY | Rock
New York NY | Rock
Connie Lynn Petruk, is a professional singer living in New York City . She has worked closely with David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Perry Farrell, Moby, Joan Jett, Ian Hunter, Ronnie Spector, Sarah Brightman and many other world famous performers. Connie Lynn was featured on Comedy Central's TV special “Night of Too Many Stars.” She has performed on NBC's “Last Call with Carson Daly,” on CBS television's “The Early Show,” and on CNN's “American Morning” with Paula Zahn. Connie was also a singing-cast member on the ABC television series “My Kind Of Town,” and her voice has been featured in many films and TV shows including Comedy Central's “The Daily Show,” The Dustin Hoffman Film “Last Chance Harvey,” The Travel Channel's “No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain,” the HBO original series “Bored To Death,” the feature films “Jawbreaker,” and “Geoffrey,” to name a few. She is a featured cast member in New York 's long running nightlife institution “The Losers Lounge,” with whom she has been performing for over ten years, including shows at Lincoln Center , Mass Moca, The Box and many other prestigious venues. Connie also played the role of “Katie” in the off Broadway production of “People Are Wrong” (the Vineyard Theater), and she contributed vocals to Theaterworks USA 's production of Romeo and Juliet. But the most important and personal aspects of Connie Lynn Petruk's exciting career, are her show-stopping performances as the lead singer for her own band The Tall Pines. Connie and The Tall Pines have been praised by National Public Radio (Top Ten Best CDs of 2007), and iTunes (New and Noteworthy summer 2009), as well as many other publications. Connie continues to seek out new challenges and adventures as a singer and performer.