Austin TX | Country
If you’ve ever wondered how Chip Taylor, the songwriter whose hits include “Wild Thing” and “Angel of the Morning” and whose songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Peggy Lee, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, and the Hollies wound up pursuing a career as a country performer, don’t worry. With the release of his latest album, Yonkers NY, he takes you back to the start of his life and explains it in a collection of songs with the patented Chip Taylor charm and grace.
Yonkers NY is a depiction of a fairly normal childhood spent in the suburbs of New York City with loving parents and two older brothers who only tormented young Chip in the ways older brothers always do. The family was subtly different from its grey-flannel-suit-wearing suburban neighbors in that the elder Taylor was a golf pro, not a businessman commuter (although he managed to convince his youngest son for years that he was also an FBI agent), as well as a high-stakes gambler on occasion.
Chip’s parents weren’t your normal uptight suburban family. “My dad and mom would let me stay up late to listen to the radio because it was important to me. It was okay to break the rules, as long as we broke them when we were following our passions; they were okay with that. They listened to what we were interested in. Barry was into rocks and the mountains right away, and I was listening to music and telling my brothers about that and Jon was doing dialects and little performances. It was already ingrained in us; we were old hands when it came time to do what we were going to do.”
Chip tells the story of his discovering his passions in eleven brilliantly crafted songs on Yonkers NY, introducing the family in the album’s first song, “Barry, Go On,” with the subject being the three Voight kids, Barry (now a renowned vulcanologist), Jonny (actor Jon Voight) and Jamie (James Voight, Taylor’s birth-name). “Charcoal Sky” introduces us to trains, then as now an essential way of getting around in suburban New York, while “Gin Rummy Rules” introduces young Jamie to mathematics as he sits with his father at the game he attends in nearby Mount Vernon three nights a week.
“Hey Jonny” turns the story in a new direction as Jamie and his older brother discover rock and roll as Bill Haley rocks the silver screen: “Hey Jonny, did you feel that movie?” Chip certainly did, and it changed his life, setting him on the path he’s still following. For much of the 1960s, he and the band he put together with his friend Greg Gwardyak in Yonkers played and recorded country music until a chance recording of one of Chip’s songs by Willie Nelson made him realize that he didn’t have to beat himself up on the road, but could make good money writing songs for other people. “Without Horses” tells the tale of another passion: gambling on horse races, something he’s always been very good at. All through the 1960s he’d place bets with his bookie (who at one point was Meyer Lansky) and then go to work writing songs, picking up his winnings at the end of the day.
“No Dice” would seem to continue the gambling theme, but it’s actually about teen romance, which was also part of a young man’s life, while “Bastard Brothers” is an affectionate swipe at his siblings who got tired of hearing Jamie saw away at a violin and begged their parents to get him another instrument for Christmas. He got a ukulele, which immediately stole his heart and led to his acquiring a guitar not much later. His life could have been much different if it weren’t for his bastard brothers! “Piece of the Sky” is the only non-autobiographical song here, a fantasy of having a band with Janis Joplin and selling six million records. Or maybe it is autobiographical, since what musician doesn’t have similar fantasies?
“Saw Mill River Road,” though, is all true details: Taylor’s first professional band, with Gwardyak, came together in Yonkers and was called the Town and Country Brothers. The competition was the Hudson Valley Boys, who had a long-standing Friday night gig at a place called the Chat & Chew in Ardsley, New York, and would call Chip to the stage every time he went to see them so he could sing a couple of numbers. “Yonkers Girls” is a tribute to the fans the band had, and generally to the girls from the towns in the area, delivered with good humor and a lot of affection.
And, finally, there’s “Yonkers, NY,” ending the song-cycle with a look back at what became of the people and places of Taylor’s childhood, all mixed together the way fifty-year-old memories get, and wrapping up the story of an American childhood and adolescence.
Taylor got out of Yonkers when Greg Gwardyak got the Town and Country Brothers a record deal. “I was signed to King Records at 15 because Greg was so passionate about these demos that we’d made that he walked the street in New York until he got us a deal. It was about passion. I could say I wanted to be in the music business, but it was because Greg was walking the streets that I actually got into it.”
Eventually, Taylor gave up performing for songwriting, than took up performing again in the 1970s, when he recorded three highly-regarded albums for Warner Bros. When they failed to sell enough to impress the company (although they created a cult following both in the United States and Europe which has only grown over the years), Taylor retired to gamble full-time. In 1993, he felt the old itch and un-retired, and in 2001 he met fiddler Carrie Rodriguez at the South by Southwest event in Austin, Texas, initiating a creative partnership that would catapult both to the upper ranks of Americana music and see them perform all over the world. The two parted ways in 2006 so that Rodriguez could concentrate on her solo career, but Taylor has continued, releasing Songs from a Dutch Tour in 2008, and, now, Yonkers NY.
All in all, the songs on Yonkers NY bear out what Chip Taylor has to say about songwriting generally. “I like to feel things. My whole life has been governed by chills, to be able to experience something in silence without a lot of talk around you. To hear the radio late at night. These days I sit here in the morning, with a couple of guitars, a Martin 0018 and a D-25 Gibson a few feet away and I can just sit here and not listen to anything except the breeze blowing outside. I’ve got my minidisc player so that if a chill comes over me I can record it immediately. I couldn’t love my life any more. The thing is to create every day. I just wait for the chill and leave the crafting ’til the end. The magic has to be there and often times it comes without syllables, just sounds of things and chords and melody. And you let that flow out of you.”
That’s what he’s done on Yonkers NY, with his superb band, consisting of John Platania, electric guitar; Greg Leisz, steel guitar, dobro, and mandolin; Tony Mercadante, electric bass; Seth Farber, piano and accordion; Kendel Carson, fiddle; and Tony Leone, drums.
Yonkers NY is being released by Train Wreck Records on September 29th in a deluxe package with a 35-page book designed by Andy Taray. The book is filled with photographs of the Voight family and, of course, Yonkers itself, and also contains lyrics to all the songs, as well as Taylor’s commentary on them. The album will contain two discs, one of which will have the full cycle, including Taylor’s spoken material, in which he tells stories and shares memories of this period of his life, the second of which will contain edited versions, with just the songs. The chills are added at no extra cost.
Great American Taxi
Great American Taxi marks its sixth year as one of the best-known headliners on the Americana music scene with a new release, Paradise Lost, produced by critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Todd Snider. The band also enlisted master folk musicians Tim O’Brien, Barry Sless, and Elizabeth Cook to tackle songs about working class, blue-collar issues while maintaining Taxi’s signature upbeat, country-, bluegrass-, rock-infused, Americana-without-borders feel. Paradise Lost is set for release distribution through Great American Taxi Records (GATRecords), available in soft release at http://www.greatamericantaxi.com/ and other digital retail outlets on October 11, 2011. Brick and mortar release for the album is February 22, 2012. The first hundred fans to pre-order the album will get a signed copy by the band and all CD pre-orders will get a free Paradise Lost digital download. Confronting current issues like mountaintop removal, nuclear energy, poor economic conditions, or a soldier returning from war isn’t unfamiliar territory for the band. “I believe in the power of music and songs that can generate the energy to do something,” explains Great American Taxi’s singer/guitarist/mandolinist Vince Herman. “Politics should be in music; everything’s politics, especially music. Songwriting can draw attention to appropriate issues of our times.”
Austin TX | Holiday
Patterson Barrett moved to Austin shortly after appearing on Jerry Jeff Walker’s eponymous first release on MCA records, playing pedal steel, dobro, and guitar (including the song “L.A. Freeway”).
Not long after arriving in Austin, he formed the band Partners In Crime, which included Buddy and Julie Miller, releasing one album on their own label, Criminal Records.
In the years since, Patterson produced some of Hal Ketchum’s earliest demos, served in Al Kooper’s back-up band, and performed before 10,000 festival-goers as Chuck Berry’s pianist. He accompanied Nancy Griffith on Austin City Limits, legendary Austin singer Lou Ann Barton in music clubs around the country, and Buddy Miller on his Your Love And Other Lies CD.
After years of collaboration with other talented artists in every format imaginable, Barrett released his first solo effort entitled I Must Be Dreaming. This americana collection features Patterson in the role of singer/songwriter in addition to musician/producer. On it, he explores some of the aspects of dreams and other alternate realities of life and death that touch us all.
He cites Neil Young and country-rock pioneers Poco and the Flying Burrito Brothers as his early influences, as well as soul stalwarts such as Sam and Dave, The Temptations, and Marvin Gaye. The music on I Must Be Dreaming has been compared to John Hiatt, The Band (whose song “Sleeping” he lovingly covers), and Ryan Adams.
The Early Years or How I Came To Be In Tx
Raised mostly in a Washington, D.C. suburb, I finished high school in NYC. After graduating from high school, I perused the musicians wanted section of local publication the Village Voice, and soon found myself living communally with a band on a farm in upstate New York.
The band was called "Dufine," named for it’s inexplicably charismatic leader, Jeff Dufine. He somehow managed to get the band an audition of sorts with a fella named Jerry Jeff Walker, who was in the area to do some recording after recently relocating to Austin, Texas. The band ended up playing on about half the songs on Jerry Jeff’s self-titled MCA release, which included the somewhat-of-a-hit-single "LA Freeway."
Wow—here I was, 18 or so, and things were going more or less according to plan. If I was lucky enough to be listening at the right time on the right equipment, I could actually hear myself playing pedal steel guitar (primitively) on the radio! We were even able to see the song included for sale on late night television as part of a K-tel hits collection. Dufine-The Band- rode this wave of enthusiasm to California, settling first in the LA area, and then in the Russian River area north of San Francisco.
After a couple of years of not becoming a huge recording star as part of Dufine, I became a little restless with the situation, and I couldn’t help remembering how Jerry Jeff and the other Austinites on the recording sessions had talked so lovingly of their cosmic-cowboy oasis down in Texas. So, my good friend and band-mate Jonathan Simons and I gave the group our notice and acquired a "drive-away" car to take us to Texas.
We spent the first night cooking on a fire at the Mansfield Dam camping area, and the next few days sleeping on the ground at Jerry Jeff’s spread (only a mile or two from where I live now!). We soon had a duplex with no furniture other than a mattress and a stereo, and a few days later my good friend Jon succumbed to years of genetic and parental programming, leaving Texas to go back to school. (Dr. Simons now has his own psychology practice in South Carolina and plays a mean blues harp and guitar in area clubs).
As for me, I felt somewhat at home here in Austin, amid the amazing energy of the burgeoning music scene. And I still do.
SC | Pop
Elise Testone (born July 29, 1983 in Kinnelon, New Jersey) is an American singer from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. She is one of the Top 13 finalists for the eleventh season of American Idol 2012.
Testone was born to LuAnne and Victor Testone. She grew up in Kinnelon, New Jersey. Testone attended Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, earning a bachelors degree in music in 2005.
Prior to Idol, Testone was a voice instructor in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and she performed regularly, either solo or with one of several bands, in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2011, Testone and her band, the Freeloaders, won the Funk/Soul/R&B Artist of the Year award in the Charleston City Paper’s Music issue. Testone received additional recognition from the Charleston City Paper in 2011, winning the staff pick for Best Tribute for Elise Testone’s James Brown Dance Party.
Testone has performed as an opening act for various other artists, including Snoop Dogg, Nappy Roots, Seven Mary Three, and Kevin Costner’s band, Modern West.
Newton MA | Classical
The thing about fossils is that they take a very long time in the making, and it’s not an entirely intentional process. The making of Aoife O’Donovan’s debut album Fossils has hardly been a glacial affair, but it has spent rather more than a decade forming about in her creative subconscious. It was time well spent, for she’s crafted a beautiful, timeless record, the natural evolution of an accomplished singer and songwriter.
The album’s roots stretch back to Aoife’s time at the New England Conservatory, where she dreamed of one day recording an album with celebrated producer Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Tift Merritt). Upon graduation, Aoife (pronounced “eefuh”) hit the road as the lead singer and principal songwriter/songfinder of Crooked Still, which grew into one of the world’s most acclaimed progressive string groups over the ensuing decade. The stunning versatility and appeal of her voice brought her to the attention of some of the most eminent names in music and led to collaborations across a wide variety of genres with everyone from Alison Krauss to Dave Douglas, along with a role as vocalist on the Grammywinning Goat Rodeo Sessions alongside Chris Thile, YoYo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan.
O’Donovan never forgot the call of that solo record, though, and last year she headed to Portland, OR, to fulfill her dream and record with Martine. Rich in songs and unexpected textures, the resulting album bears the remarkable fruits of their creative partnership. Both joyously open and profoundly private, the album is at all times an opportunity to enjoy O’Donovan’s thoroughly modern and deeply rooted vocals.The album opens with “Lay My Burden Down,” perhaps O’Donovan’s best known song simply because Alison Krauss recorded it on Paper Airplane. O’Donovan acknowledges the risk in this choice, and the reward. “One of my uncles loves to say that nobody owns songs, and I think that’s true. My version is so different from hers, and it really sets a nice tone for the record,” she says.
O’Donovan and Martine have carefully placed her songs in a variety of musical settings, from the chorus of horns which opens “Thursday’s Child” to the country rock of “Fire Engine,” from Charlie Rose’s pedal steel, running throughout Fossils, to the sometimes squalling electric guitar on “Beekeeper.” It is a rooted album, to be sure, but not precisely a roots album.
O’Donovan chuckles a little. “I guess it just feels totally natural,” she says. “It’s how a lot of these songs have just come to life over the years.” Most of O’Donovan’s songs are character driven, and many of them resemble portions of the folk traditions in which she was raised. The second track, “Briar Rose,” for example, is based on an Anne Sexton poem, a recontextualized fairytale.
Though she will concede that a couple tracks are somewhat more personal. And that she is quite properly proud of Fossils. “This solo album seems like it was a long time coming to me,” she says, the sounds of an airport in the background. “I’ve been thinking about it since I was 18 years old.” Time well spent. Fossils, after all, are among nature’s most durable, lasting creations.
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."