Jammin' At Hippie Jack's May FestivalBluegrass
Now in its ninth year, Jammin' at Hippie Jack's represents itself as a bastion of Americana. What makes the weekend festival in Crawford, Tenn., notable is the high quality of quasi-Americana artists it does attract. This year, you can catch the eccentric guitarist and singer Malcolm Holcombe, who has perfected a style of abstract song that utilizes cutting rhythms. Also on board at Hippie Jack's farm — the festivities include a potluck dinner, and campers and RV owners are welcome to come — will be such unclassifiable musicians as West Virginia-born multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Tim O'Brien, who released the fine 2012 live album We're Usually a Lot Better Than This with fellow festival performer Darrell Scott. The venerable Commander Cody-style spirit of hippie comedy-rock will be invoked by Knoxville country-rockers Barstool Romeos, who released the 2012 Twisted Steel & Sex Appeal full-length.
You need more than guts and good intentions to record a convincing all-covers CD of songs by the modern-day pantheon of great singer-songwriters, from Bob Dylan to Mickey Newbury to Joni Mitchell. You have to add something special and personal to reignite oft-heard standards – musical talent, sure, but also a depth of feeling, experience and understanding. And Darrell Scott, from his genes to his genius as a sensitive vocalist, an award-winning songwriter of depth and perception, and a versatile instrumentalist, has earned that right.
Born on a tobacco farm in London, Ky., in 1959, and raised in E. Gary, Indiana, Darrell was part of a musical family. His father Wayne, a steelworker by trade but a songwriter in his heart, moved his clan to Southern California when Darrell was 11. Soon Darrell and brothers Denny, Dale, Don, and David were part of their dad’s band, getting on-the-job training in country music as they played its hits on the stages of roadhouses and taverns as far north as Alaska.
Darrell eventually left the band and California, paying some more musical dues in Toronto and in Boston and earning a degree in poetry from nearby Tufts University, where he also studied literature. With his lyric skills sharpened and his abilities on guitars, banjo and other instruments already road-tested, Darrell followed his muse to country music’s Ground Zero, Nashville. His key to entering Music Row’s inner circles was, at first, his string-slinging skills – starting in 1992, he appeared on albums by alt.country mavericks Guy Clark (for whom he later produced two CDs) and Steve Earle, Randy Travis, Patty Loveless, and dozens more.
As his "day job" as a picker flourished, Darrell channeled his other creative energies into his own songwriting and recordings. By the time he had released his debut CD, Aloha from Nashville (1997), its follow-up Family Tree (1999), and Real Time (2000), a duo album with “newgrass” trailblazer Tim O’Brien, Darrell’s original songs were much in demand by singers looking for more than "big hat" bragging or slick country-pop. Suzy Bogguss was the first of many to record a Scott song, taking his "No Way Out" into the country singles charts in 1996. Darrell’s compositions became highlights of albums by Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Kathy Mattea, Maura O’Connell and even his mentor, Guy Clark. The Dixie Chicks’ recording of “Long Time Gone” from Real Time was not only a hit for the Chicks but garnered a 2003 Grammy nomination for "Best Country Song"; "The Second Mouse," a Scott/O’Brien tune from Real Time, was a Grammy finalist as “Best Country Instrumental Performance” in 2001. That same year, Darrell was named Songwriter of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association International, an honor repeated by ASCAP in 2002.
Darrell’s solo CDs, session work, touring gigs with Steve Earle’s Bluegrass Dukes (of which he remains a member), Guy Clark, and Newgrass Revival founder Sam Bush, and his own live shows have steadily drawn reviews even payola can’t buy. USA Today praised his “brilliantly clever songs”; Entertainment Tonight raved about his “powerful songwriting, passionate vocals and masterful picking”; Rolling Stone listed his 2003 CD, Theatre of the Unheard, in their list of Critics’ Top Albums and compared him to Clark and Springsteen “at their best.” Performing Songwriter went all the way, dubbing him “the best of the best.”
Somehow, Darrell has continually found the time and energy to expand his musical activities ever further. In 2003, he launched his own label, Full Light Records, and his first move as owner was to produce a traditional, mountain country album for his father, This Weary Way, that finally showcased Wayne’s original songs. For the past two years, Darrell has been the “artist in residence” with Orchestra Nashville (members appear on Modern Hymn’s “Joan of Arc”), creating what he calls “diverse musical happenings – the odder the better,” mixing the string section with such guests as Sam Bush, jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, and other musicians from many genres.
Darrell has also been stockpiling songs and ideas for his next few CDs, including orchestral recordings, a “stone country” album, a duets project, and a band record of roots, Americana and folk-rock songs. He plays more than 50 shows a year, including prestigious US and UK festivals, and conducts songwriting workshops around the country. He recently had to turn down an invitation to lead a road band for Joan Baez due to logistics. We should all have such problems; we should all have such skills. But Darrell does, and that’s what makes him such a distinctive and creative force in contemporary music.
In Tim O’Brien’s music, things come together. The uncanny intersection of traditional and contemporary elements in his songwriting, his tireless dedication to a vast and still-expanding array of instruments, and his ongoing commitment to place himself in as many unique and challenging musical scenarios as possible has made him a key figure in today’s thriving roots music scene – and well beyond it. O’Brien’s presence – be it as a bandleader, songwriter, mentor, instrumentalist, or vocalist – has been strongly felt not only in his own rich music, but in the many recordings of his songs by such artists as the Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley, Nickel Creek, Kathy Mattea, the New Grass Revival, and the Seldom Scene, and in his recorded collaborations with Steve Martin, the Chieftains, and innumerable others. Most recently, O’Brien has been performing before capacity crowds in the band of Mark Knopfler, who described O’Brien as “a master of American folk music, Irish music, Scottish music – it doesn't matter; a fine songwriter and one of my favorite singers.”
Acclaim has followed Mary Gauthier every step of the way after picking up a guitar at age 35 and making her way to open mic nights on Boston’s busy coffeehouse circuit in 1995.
Since 1997 Mary has released six albums and was published in a collection of short stories titled Amplified. She released her debut album, titled Dixie Kitchen in 1998, named after a restaurant she owned. To her surprise, she was nominated for Best New Contemporary Folk Artist at the Boston Music Awards.
Her second release Drag Queens in Limousines (1999, with her signature “I Drink”) drew a four-star rating in Rolling Stone and broke Mary’s career wide open, as she became a presence at folk festivals across the U.S. and Europe. The title tune won Best Folk/Singer-Songwriter Song at the first annual Independent Music Awards; the album earned the Crossroads Silver Star Award; and Mary was named Best Country Music Artist at the GLAMA’s (Gay and Lesbian American Music Awards).
With her third CD, Filth & Fire (2002), Mary began an association with Gurf Morlix, former sideman and producer for Lucinda Williams. Filth & Fire was named Best Indy CD Of The Year by Jon Pareles of the New York Times, the Best Singer/Songwriter Album Of The Year by No Depression, and Freeform American Roots poll critics chose Mary as their Female Artist Of The Year.
With the release of her next album, Mercy Now (2005), again produced by Morlix, Mary graduated to major label status as she joined the prestigious Lost Highway label. Around the same time, Mary officially moved to Nashville. Mercy Now appeared on a score of year-end “Best Of” lists, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Billboard, and No Depression. Mary was named New/Emerging Artist Of The Year at the annual Americana Music Association Awards, and Bob Dylan included “I Drink” on his “Theme Time Radio Hour” program.
For her next album, Between Daylight and Dark (2007), Mary was teamed with master producer Joe Henry. “If she keeps this up, one day she may assume the mantle of Johnny Cash,” raved the New York Daily News; while the Boston Globe praised Mary’s “particular blend of toughness and vulnerability that puts her writing in a league with Bruce Springsteen and Steve Earle.”
Her newest album, The Foundling, was named the #3 record of the Year by the LA Times writer Randy Lewis. Written and recorded over the course of two years, The Foundling was produced in Toronto by Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies, using local musicians and his sister Margo Timmins on vocal harmonies. The Foundling is Mary’s first concept album, ands she opens the door on the defining circumstance of her life, the emotional journey and aftermath of finding the mother who surrendered her in New Orleans after her birth in March 1962.
“Gauthier’s new CD, “The Foundling” is the product of two years work, and is quite simply the best collection of songs she’s ever recorded. With ’The Foundling’, Mary Gauthier has created her first masterpiece. Not for the easily frightened, it is the most raw, brave and ultimately satisfying album I’ve heard in a very long time. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. ” No Depression Magazine
Austin TX | Country
“His songs span the width and breath of the Americana landscape, stretching, meshing, melding and coalesce the forms until they all breakdown into porridge, that when you attempt to describe it might sound horrible, but tastes so good.” Bob Gottlieb
Kevin Welch grew up in Oklahoma. He had already toured as a teenager with several bands before he moved to Nashville in 1978 to work as a songwriter. Singers like Soloman Burke, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Linda Ronstadt were using his material. At the same time he was very active in local clubs, performing with John Scott Sherrill and the Wolves in Cheap Clothing, The Roosters, and finally his own band – The Overtones. His popularity grew and in 1988 he signed a record contract with Warner Brothers.
In 1990 the album Kevin Welch was recorded and two years later Western Beat. Both albums received rave reviews.
In Europe he is known mainly for his hit “Something About You” (contained in Western Beat) which was used as background music in Tuborg’s commercials.
In 2004 Welch teamed up with fellow Dead Reckoning artists Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplin to product You Can’t Save Everybody. The trio followed this up with Lost John Dean in 2006, to general acclaim. Lost John Dean reached number one on the Americana charts, and resulted in nominations for several awards including Duo/Group. The group traveled to Australia 10 times, as well as Europe and the UK, Canada, and all over the United States.
In the spring of 2008 Welch left Nashville for the hills outside of Austin, Texas. In early 2010 he then joined with friends and colleagues Jimmy LaFave, Sam Baker, and Slaid Cleaves at the start-up (and up-start) label Music Road Records, and self-produced his first solo record in 8 years, A Patch of Blue Sky.
Welch currently is touring, though while off the road he teaches songwriting workshops at his home in Wimberely, Texas.
The Farewell Drifters
Nashville TN | Singer-Songwriter
Rising out of Nashville’s thriving independent music scene, the Farewell Drifters are an alt-folk band known for their 60’s era-inspired harmonies and adventurous musical energy. They have crafted a seamless blend of intellectual psychedelic pop with melodic songs that openly explore the brightest and darkest corners of life with raw intensity. The Farewell Drifters’ latest album, Echo Boom, has been met with critical praise and finds them growing from young men into thinking men and establishing their considerable place in this world.
"A lavish, layered pop sound that almost definitely owes more to Pet Sounds than it does to Bill Monroe. And the self-aware, coming-of-age lyrics and musical intricacies are no small part of it."
- American Songwriter
"The Best of What's Next"
- Paste Magazine
"With Beach Boys harmonies and Avett Brothers energy, The Farewell Drifters deliver infectious acoustic music (and killer live shows, if they happen to come your way)."
- Engine 145
"Exuberant musical intelligence"
- No Depression
"With Echo Boom, the band uses a variety of song structures to explore their generation with delightful results."
- Ann VerWiebe, NPR's Folk Alley
Weaverville NC | Singer-Songwriter
Born and raised in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, Malcolm Holcombe is being recognized by the contemporary U.S and European folk/americana community as a performer of national stature, and an uncommonly unique guitarist/vocalist about whom Rolling Stone magazine says: "Haunted country, acoustic blues and rugged folk all meet [here]..."
The acts of writing songs and playing music have always been hopeful ones, however bleak the subject matter of the songs might be. With Down the River, Malcolm Holcombe has once again given us a handful of songs that are testimony to the human spirit. In these songs, the old truths still hold. Love, the inner life, music, these are eternal verities and will outlast the trickery and chicanery of those who would turn us against each other. In these strange and troubled times, we need Holcombe’s witness as much as we ever have, and it is our good fortune to receive it.
Big Timber MT | Country
Montana songwriter Ben Bullington has released “Lazy Moon,” his fourth CD of original songs. Bullington, until recently a family doctor in Big Timber, Montana, is known for his thoughtful songs and intricate stories. He dedicated the project - “To the hardy and hard working people of Montana and the Rocky Mountain West.”
“There is something in the freedom of the West, the countryside and the people, that I needed,” said Bullington. “It’s the perfect place for me to raise my sons, to work and to write. With ’Lazy Moon,’ I figured I’d stay closer to home with a collection of songs centered in Montana and the West. It’s string band music with a modern feel.”
The eleven song CD was recorded at Fred Baker’s Electric Peak Recording near Gardiner, MT. “Fred is an excellent and knowledgeable engineer who really understands how to dial in a rich natural sound,” Bullington said. “We collected some great musicians for the project including Andy Bullington, Tom Murphy, John Lowell, Russell Smith, Buff Brown, Joanne Gardner, Tracy Nelson - more guest musicians than I’ve ever had. The majority of the record was a core group, then ’Livingston’ features our pack of Livingston misfits and adds Bill Payne and Kris Clone for a stomper final track.”
Memphis TN | Country
This versatile singer-songwriter, named "Premier Male Vocalist" five times by the Memphis Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, knows no boundaries when it comes to musical styles. Influences range from The Beatles to the Eagles, Johnny Cash and Gram Parsons to Jackson Browne. His songs have been recorded by Martina McBride, Restless Heart, Joy White, Johnny Rivers, as well as many other independent artists. Davis has appeared as a backing vocalist on numerous recordings by artists such as Johnny Lang, former Eagle Bernie Leadon, Danny Tate, Eric Gales, William Lee Golden, Mark Collie, Keith Sykes, Iris DeMent, Cory Branan, Susan Marshall, John Eddie, and the late Toy Caldwell. But it's Jimmy's charisma, warmth and talent as a performer that make him stand out among his well known peers.
Kenny Vaughan Trio
Born in Oklahoma, raised in Denver, Kenny Vaughan's earliest memories of music are his father's jazz record collection:
“My dad listened to Jimmy Smith, Mose Allison, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Miles Davis, Tony Mottola, and used to take me to hear Johnny Smith play at Shaner's in Denver. My neighbor, Charles Sawtelle, listened to Flatt and Scruggs and played Salty Dog on his Martin guitar for me. I knew then and there that I wanted to do that! I got my first electric guitar when I was twelve. The first thing I played was ’Folsom Prison Blues’. My first band played Stones, surf, '60's garage punk, and Memphis soul. I saw the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Cream, Howlin' Wolf, Captain Beefheart, Buck Owens and The Buckaroos, The Dead, The Doors, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Winter, John Mayall, and Led Zep's first stateside gig, all before I was sixteen!"
Nashville TN |
Wild Ponies - The dead right, honest songwriting of Doug and Telisha Williams blended with a kick-ass band. The last few years have been all about change and evolution for Doug and Telisha. They left their home in Virginia, spent a year as homeless troubadours, and finally settled in East Nashville just over a year ago. Since then, they’ve become a central part of their new Community. They co-host the weekly songwriting group called the East Nashville Song Salon; they host a weekly radio show on East Nashville Radio called Whiskey Wednesdays; and if you're wandering around on the east side of the Cumberland you’ll have a good chance of catching them at The Family Wash and other local spots. That is, if they're not on the road - they average over 150 dates a year, bringing a burning energy to every show they play. They mean it. They live it. Then they get on stage and rip the shit out of it. Under the production mastery of Ray Kennedy, they've just finished a new record, Things That Used To Shine - look for it on a turntable near you, summer of 2013.
Written during a busy year on the road, Things That Used To Shine is an album about leaving some things behind…and meeting others head-on. It's also the studio debut of Wild Ponies, a Nashville-based outfit fronted by Virginia natives Doug and Telisha Williams, who have previously toured and recorded as acoustic folk duo Doug & Telisha Williams.
Released by the band's newly formed independent label, Ditch Dog Records, Things That Used To Shine finds Telisha opening up about the skeletons that have haunted her closet for years. Grammy-winning producer Ray Kennedy (Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams) recorded the album's 12 songs in three days, running the band's harmonies through the same pre-amps once used by the Beatles. Casey Driessen, Russ Pahl, Jake Winebrenner and other heavy-hitting roots musicians also make appearances, beefing up the band's songs with everything from organ to pedal steel.
Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart
Nashville TN | Singer-Songwriter
Few husband-wife musical duos provide audiences with the complete entertainment package that Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart dish out in a live performance. Armed with clever acoustic guitar interplay, autobiographical songwriting, lovely harmonies, and humorous storytelling this couple captivates your attention from the first moment they are onstage. Based out of Tennessee, Earle and Stuart draw from blues, pop, country, rock, and more in their heartfelt music. The years of touring the folk/Americana circuit (playing 170 concerts a year) have given them a knack for reaching out to the audience in an intimate “come in to my living room” fashion.
Stacey and Mark own their own record label, Gearle Records, and have made 8 CDs over the years. Since meeting in 1992 and marrying in late 1993, the partners have toured the USA, Canada, and Europe repeatedly. They left the environment of pursuing a major label deal in Nashville in 1998 to target small intimate venue crowds in theaters, coffeehouses, festivals, clubs, and house concerts. This has become their home and they are a recognized fixture on the folk music trail they blaze.
Americana singer/songwriter Tim Easton has been driven westward both geographically and musically since his college days in Ohio. On his 5th album, Porcupine, the Joshua Tree, CA resident lets a myriad of guitar riffs rooted in blues, country, rockabilly and campfire folk set the color for observational lyrics capturing life from the desert to the sea. The new album finds Tim's storytelling skills as sharp as quills, possibly inspired by his friend and pal Lucinda Williams. One of Porcupine's shining moments is the wistful two minute pop-folk jangle "7th Wheel" (conjured by the same spirits that entered the room while Browne and Frey wrote "Take It Easy"). Easton, known for his incessant touring (from Dublin to Anchorage to Ft. Wayne to Jacksonville), will be on the road, supporting Porcupine for a long time.
Knoxville TN | Singer-Songwriter
We're a Knoxville, TN band that plays original music that artfully fuses an indie-rock aesthetic with Appalachian roots music. Sometimes you'll catch us playing banjo and mandolin. Other times, electric guitar and keyboards. We've been called modern folk, indie-folk, Americana, folk rock, folkadelic, "an Appalachian Belle and Sebastian"... We've been accused of having a unique sound and strong song writing. But it doesn't really matter what anyone else says, take a listen for yourself here on the site. Or better yet, come out to a show.