Concord NC | Country
Jim Avett and Family is a gospel album by a retired welder, his daughter and two sons. He is not only a welder of course. He, like any man, is more than his career, more than his working business. He is a farmer. He is an ex-psychology professor. He is a husband of forty years and a father of thirty-five. He draws. He cuts and bails his own hay for his own cows. From 1967 to 1971, he served in the United States Navy. He is a dedicated family man. He has worked with neglected children and broken households as a social worker. He has built bridges of steel and a home of lumber. Oh yes, he sings and picks the guitar as well. With this record, he has done so with his family in mind, so that his children’s children and so on will have a way to know a little of who he is, who he was. Perhaps fittingly, it is by his own children’s encouragement that it is now available to the general public. For all of what he is, this collection of tunes is a glimpse into his sentiment and history; the son of a preacher and a pianist, who as a boy, sat in the pews and heard not only his father’s sermons, but these songs as well. Now, he has sung them with the tape rolling, as honest and rough-cut as it gets, and anyone may listen.
San Francisco CA | Singer-Songwriter
They draw freely from the old school and the old world, but The Waybacks are no throwback. They've been erroneously pigeonholed as a bluegrass band and celebrated as purveyors of "acoustic mayhem." They are as uninhibited and unpredictable as the eclectic San Francisco Bay area that claims them, and for nearly a decade, their experiments have always proven sharp-witted and musically dazzling. They're living proof that in music anyway, evolution and intelligent design are entirely compatible. "The whole spirit of improvisation – that's always been the cornerstone of this band for me," says founding singer, songwriter and guitarist James Nash. "Through all the stylistic changes and regardless of the instruments we're playing, to me the fun of this band has always been that in some ways I can do whatever I feel like doing at any moment."
They've been through changes for sure. Now a four-piece with a full arsenal of acoustic and electric instruments, The Waybacks are releasing Loaded, the boldest, rangiest and most exciting album of their career. Produced by Nashville bassist, composer and consummate sideman Byron House, it's a musical rebuke to anyone who would typecast true artistry.
The folk and roots underpinnings that have long been a Waybacks hallmark are still there, but after years of playing a huge range of venues and festivals, touring with Grateful Dead founder Bob Weir, and reconfiguring themselves around the hot guitar of James Nash and the fiddle virtuosity of Warren Hood, The Waybacks are enjoying a refreshed repertoire – one that's touched by Memphis soul, honky-tonk, Parisian swing, classical music, vintage blue pop and much more besides. Nash and Hood have stepped forward as songwriters, allowing The Waybacks to assemble their first project of entirely original music. They're finding a new collective voice, right before our ears.
Besides Nash, the Waybacks include drummer Chuck Hamilton, bass player Joe Kyle Jr. and the newest member, fiddler and mandolinist Warren Hood. Those who have followed the band's progress over the past five years have had to bid good-bye to two long-time members, finger-stylist and singer Stevie Coyle and multi-instrumentalist Chojo Jacques. But in welcoming Hood (who sometimes refers to the revamped band as a power trio plus fiddle) and focusing around a more rhythmic, far-reaching sound. You might say The Waybacks have grown by shrinking.
"I just thought they were all very talented players," says Hood about his attraction to The Waybacks. "I really couldn't put them into a genre, but I guess that's what I liked about it. I'd rather be in a band that plays a little of everything than a band that lives in one genre all night."
The Waybacks were launched in 1999, when Nash, a guitar phenomenon raised in Nashville, was making a living in San Francisco playing solid-body electric guitar. His involvement in an acoustic side project was not supposed to change his life, but it did. "It was kind of a novelty to me," he says. "It was a liberating, exciting thing where I kind of rediscovered that I love playing acoustic instruments." As they began touring, Nash was quickly recognized as a top-flight picker even in the rarified company that circulated at the world's best folk, roots and bluegrass festivals. The Waybacks' show was built around blazing instrumental skills and large doses of hilarity. They'd play traditional fiddle tunes with their own twist, original songs that fell into no category, and insanely difficult jazz tunes like Charlie Parker's "Scrapple From The Apple."
Fans loved it, and so did the critics. The Chicago Tribune's David Royko praised their "near-ideal balance of irreverence, chops, discipline, and originality." Bay Area writer Michael Miller admired their "exotic settings" and "mind blowing picking." It led to major festival bookings and eventually a recording arrangement with Nashville's roots label Compass Records.
The Bob Weir shows were one of the most recent validations that The Waybacks had tapped into something profound. The Grateful Dead co-founder has remained incredibly prolific over the years, and in The Waybacks he saw something he recognized. He and the band collaborated on several memorable shows in 2006, including much buzzed-about sets at Merlefest in North Carolina and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco. They translated some of the Dead's electric repertoire into a newgrass format, while working up covers together from the likes of Johnny Cash and Led Zeppelin. So it should come as no surprise if you hear overtones of the Dead's freedom and eclecticism in songs like "Good Enough" and "The River" on Loaded.
When they were getting ready to make the new album, Nash and company scheduled their longest- ever period of pre-production. It was a necessary step to finding out how to work as a four-piece and a productive investment in crafting an album that accomplishes a lot of things. "We were so much better prepared for the studio and we had a lot more fun this time," says Joe Kyle. "Once we got to Nashville with the meter running we were able to get down to business at once. The vibe was strong in the studio. We were at once purposeful and focused and we were having a ball."
Kyle also says that for the first time The Waybacks had more original material to record than they had space for. That's because of the songwriting energy of Nash and Hood. Warren's songs lean toward the vintage, and he shows chops beyond his 24 years in the complex chord changes and sophisticated melodies of tunes like "Savannah." "Nice To Be Alone" sounds like something Sam Cooke might have recorded, and "Tired of Being Right" is a full-tilt roadhouse boogie. Hood also proves he's a gifted singer and every bit the son of Champ Hood, whose seminal Uncle Walt's Band is one good historical touchstone for The Waybacks.
Nash's songs tend to jam out harder and tell great stories. The characters in Loaded and "City Boy" are palpable and have motivation. The proud-because-she-has-to-be girl in "Conjugal Visit" is no lighter weight for being the subject of a funny song. "Beyond the Northwest Passage" is a no-holds- barred sea shanty with a rousing sing-along chorus that features the band's beer-fueled pals from the Greencards and the Infamous Stringdusters.
Drummer Chuck Hamilton says "each successive Waybacks recording project has been an improvement on the previous one – more fun, better musicianship, better production – and Loaded continues in that tradition. Somehow everything seems more authentic now. There's a combination of freedom and pressure that I really like."
When you think about it, that's the essential tension behind all great music. One without the other just doesn't work. It's that balance that makes The Waybacks a real ensemble, one that transcends genres in the best possible way. As Hood says, "I'd like to hear them try to call us a bluegrass band now!"
Boston MA United States | Country
Vintage Guitar magazine describes Della Mae's sound as "straightforward, expertly executed music that stays true to its inspirations." Its musical style seamlessly blends years of experience with bluegrass music and modern singer-songwriter sensibilities. With award-winning instrumental abilities and a reputation for energetic live performances, the five women of Della Mae are turning heads.
Pokey LaFarge and The South City Three
St. Louis MO | Country
Pokey LaFarge is a musician, songwriter, bandleader, entertainer, innovator and preservationist, whose well-rounded arsenal of talents has placed him at the forefront of American music. Over the last decade, Pokey has won the hearts of music lovers across the globe with his creative mix of early jazz, string ragtime, country blues and western swing, all while writing songs that ring true and fine in both spirit and sound. His music transcends the confines of genre, continually challenging the notion that tradition-bearers fail to push musical boundaries. Cleverly striding between numerous forms of traditional American music, Pokey has crafted a genre all his own, marked in its accessible ingenuity.
Rather than merely conjuring up half-forgotten imagery of days past, Pokey is a lyrical storyteller, the plot delivered smoothly through his dynamic vocals. One moment he shouts a line and the next he croons above his archtop guitar, backed by an often ornate, acoustic instrumentation that allows for nothing less than masterful instrumental skill. Both on stage and off, Pokey’s effortless wit and approachable demeanor never fails to charm audiences, giving way to a live music experience that manages to be grandiose and unassuming all at once. Born in the heartland of America and based in St. Louis, Missouri, Pokey’s Midwestern appeal and infallible charisma welcomes his audiences with open arms.
In the past year alone, he signed with Jack White’s Third Man Records, was honored with a second consecutive Best Americana Album win by the Independent Music Awards for Middle of Everywhere, joined Vince Giordano for a track featured on an episode of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and recorded alongside Jack White on his album Blunderbuss. His songwriting prowess not left behind, Pokey was also named an International Songwriting Competition finalist. Pokey’s 2012 tour trail (consisting of nearly 200 shows) included two visits to Europe, performances at several of the largest and most renowned folk festivals in Canada, and appearances at clubs and festivals scattered across America. As an opening act for Jack White’s Blunderbuss tour, Pokey delighted sold out crowds at Red Rocks Amphitheater and Radio City Music Hall, among other prominent venues in America and Canada. In addition to opening for Mr. White, Pokey has played with the likes of The Raconteurs, Nils Lofgren, Southern Culture on the Skids, Wanda Jackson, and most recently at the historic Ryman Auditorium with Old Crow Medicine Show. Pokey is currently touring with a five-piece backing band, including his original bandmates (Ryan Koenig on harmonica, washboard and snare, Adam Hoskins on guitar and Joey Glynn on upright bass), in addition to Chloe Feoranzo on clarinet and TJ Muller on cornet.
At only 30 years old, Pokey’s career has not slowed in momentum since it began with his first release Marmalade (2007). Shortly followed by Beat, Move and Shake (2008) and Riverboat Soul (2010), Pokey quickly graduated from breakthrough artist to leading musical figure, receiving an Independent Music Award for Riverboat Soul and continued praise from NPR Music and Billboard Magazine, among other reputable critics. His latest full-length album, co-produced with Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, was released June 4 under Third Man Records. Pokey LaFarge is on a mission, encouraging audiences worldwide to think differently about what it means to celebrate musical traditions. Simply put, Pokey explains, “It’s not retro music. It’s American music that never died.”
Boston MA | Country
Grammy-award winner and six-time Grammy nominee, Peter Rowan is a bluegrass singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of bluegrass patriarch Bill Monroe, and following his stint in Old & In the Way with Jerry Garcia and subsequent breakout as both a solo performer and bandleader, Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through his continuous stream of original recordings, collaborative projects, and constant touring.
Born in Wayland, Massachusetts to a musical family, Rowan first learned to play guitar from his uncle. He spent his teenage years absorbing the sights and sounds of the Boston music scene, playing bluegrass at the Hillbilly Ranch and discovering folk and blues across the Charles River at the legendary Club 47 on Mt. Auburn Street in Cambridge. "I could sit in with the Lilly Brothers at the Hillbilly Ranch and then catch the MTA and be in time for Joan Baez's last set at the Club 47. Bluegrass appealed to me. It was callin' me—the harmonies, that high and lonesome calling-sound. Don Stover had played banjo with Bill Monroe, fiddler Tex Logan too, before they joined the Lillys. Mandolinist Joe Val taught me all the Blue Sky Boys and the Louvin Brothers songs. I would play a "sock-hop" with my rockin' group, The Cupids, and then make a beeline for the clubs. Sonny Terry and Brownie Magee, Josh White, Muddy Waters- they all came to town! "
Nashville TN | Country
Jim Lauderdale is a Grammy® Award winning musician and one of the most respected artists working the Bluegrass, Country and Americana music communities today. He is considered one of Nashville's "A" list of songwriters with songs recorded by artists such as Patty Loveless, Shelby Lynne, Solomon Burke, The Dixie Chicks and George Strait, who has had numerous hits with Jim’s songs. Jim’s music has been featured recently on the ABC hit show “Nashville” and he had several tracks on the soundtrack of the successful film “Pure Country.” Jim is also in high demand as a player, touring with the likes of Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rhonda Vincent and Elvis Costello.
Jim, who frequently collaborates with legends like Ralph Stanley and Elvis Costello, is also a critically acclaimed solo artist with dozens of studio releases, including his latest Carolina Moonrise, written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and Buddy and Jim the critically acclaimed new duets album recorded with long time friend Buddy Miller of which Mojo states: “Miller and Lauderdale's duets has both the easy familiarity of old friends and the musicianship of old pros.”
In addition to making music together, Buddy and Jim also co-host “The Buddy & Jim Show,” recently described as “…highly entertaining…” by NPR’s Fresh Air. Each week Buddy and Jim invite artists to Buddy’s home studio in Nashville, where they tape performances and in depth interviews with a wide variety of artists and friends. Jim also hosts the popular Music City Roots each week from the Loveless Barn in Nashville and since winning "Artist of the Year" and "Song of the Year" at the first "Honors and Awards Show" held by the Americana Music Association in 2002, he has subsequently hosted the show each year.
Jim is the subject of a new documentary, directed by Australian filmmaker Jeremy Dylan called “The King Of Broken Hearts.” The feature length documentary tells Jim’s unconventional and prolific story from his North Carolina roots, being immersed in the country music scenes in both New York City and Los Angeles, to breaking through in Nashville as a songwriter.
Jim's musical influences, including the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley and George Jones, can be heard in his songs with his unique sense of melody and lyrical expertise. He won his first Grammy Award in 2002 with Dr. Ralph Stanley for Lost in the Lonesome Pines (Dualtone) and then for The Bluegrass Diaries (Yep Roc) in 2007. In addition to previously mentioned releases, as a performer Jim is credited with production, writing and collaborating on over two dozen albums including Wait ’Til Spring (SkyCrunch/Dualtone 2003) with Donna the Buffalo and Headed for the Hills (Dualtone 2004) his first total project with Robert Hunter, Planet of Love (Reprise 1991,) Pretty Close to the Truth (Atlantic 1994,) Every Second Counts (Atlantic 1995,) Persimmons (Upstart 1998,) Whisper (BNA 1998,) Onward Through It All (RCA 1999,) The Other Sessions (Dualtone 2001,) The Hummingbirds (Dualtone 2002,) Bluegrass (Yep Roc 2006,) Country Super Hits, Volume 1 (Yep Roc 2006,) Honey Songs (Yep Roc 2008), Could We Get Any Closer? (SkyCrunch 2009,) Patchwork River (Thirty Tigers 2010) and Reason and Rhyme (Sugar Hill Records 2011.)
Jim's musical influences include the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley and George Jones. These influences and his unique sense of melody and lyric help forge a sound that is truly his own. As a performer his credits include production, writing and collaborating on albums such as, "Wait 'Til Spring" with Donna the Buffalo, "Headed for the Hills” with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, "I Feel Like Singing Today" and the Grammy winning “Lost in the Lonesome Pines” with Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys.
His second solo bluegrass album, “Bluegrass Diaries” (Yep Roc 2007) won a Grammy in the “Bluegrass Album of the Year” category. His next album, “Honey Songs” was released in February 2008, and features an incredible lineup of musicians including James Burton, Garry Tallent, Al Perkins, Glen D. Hardin, Ron Tutt, Emmy Lou Harris, Patty Loveless, and many more.
Jim’s solo albums include “The Hummingbirds” (Dualtone 2002), “The Other Sessions” (Dualtone 2001), “Onward Through it All” (RCA 1999), “Whisper” (BNA 1998), “Persimmons” (Upstart 1996), “Every Second Counts” (Atlantic 1995), “Pretty Close to the Truth” (Atlantic 1994), and “Planet of Love” (Reprise 1991), as well as two releases in 2006, “Country Super Hits, Volume 1” and “Bluegrass” (Yep Roc), Grammy winner "The Bluegrass Diaries" (Yep Roc 2007), "Honey Songs" (Yep Roc 2008) "Could We Get Any Closer?" (Sky Crunch 2009) and "Patchwork River" (Thirty Tigers 2010).
"It's been a particularly great period for me," says Lauderdale. "Thanks to the records - I'm performing more and more, which I love. And I love that I can play the Opry one weekend, a jam-band festival the next and then a bluegrass festival the following week. That's really inspiring to me and I think there's a real thread there. The roots are the same for all of them and that's the music I'm interested in."