Nashville TN | Bluegrass
For bluegrass artist Rebecca Frazier, the guitar has always been a means of transporting her, whether to a different state of mind, to a campfire bluegrass circle, or onto the stage of one of the hundred-plus festivals at which she has performed. But she didn’t have to walk far from her front door to record When We Fall, her new bluegrass and Americana album slated for a spring 2013 release. “I’ve been writing this record for seven years, as I’ve been traveling from state to state playing bluegrass, and eventually settling in Nashville,” says Frazier. “Wouldn’t you know I’d team up with Brent Truitt in East Nashville and start recording a few blocks away.”
Rebecca has played guitar since she received a Yamaha dreadnought for Christmas at age 12. She had no idea that this gift would lead her to be the first-ever woman on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine (September 2006) or to become the recipient of International Bluegrass Music Association’s ’Recorded Event of the Year’ Award (2009). “I was spending my summers in the Shenandoah Mountains at a girls’ camp,” says the Virginia native. “I was song leader when I was thirteen, so I was required to write songs and teach melodies to fellow campers. We’d sing threepart harmonies as we washed our hair in the ice-cold Cowpasture River.”
Rebecca’s path in music has led her to carry forward those magical moments of her Virginia childhood. In college, Rebecca immersed herself in the local bluegrass scene and was soon balancing late night bar gigs with early morning exams. She won the Hopwood Award for her thesis at the University of Michigan about guitarist, Emily Remler, earned her degree in Music and Literature, and then studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. “The professors there said, ’You’ll learn more by getting out there and doing it.’”
During her eight-year stay in Colorado, Rebecca co-founded Hit & Run Bluegrass, an awardwinning, Boulder-based outfit, which made history by becoming the first band to win both prestigious band competitions at Rockygrass (2002) and Telluride Bluegrass Festival (2003). Soon Hit & Run was bringing their “authentic yet modern” bluegrass to concert stages in almost every state in the U.S. as well as in Canada, including the esteemed Grey Fox, Telluride, High Sierra, and Rockygrass Festivals.
Driven by Rebecca’s leadership, Hit & Run became one of Colorado’s most electrifying acoustic touring acts. According to Denver’s Westword, “Something’s got to be up when one bluegrass band suddenly surpasses all the others. Here in Colorado, that band is Hit & Run.” In 2005, the band won first place at the highly competitive SPBGMA Band Championship in Nashville and was invited to showcase at International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual conference. The band’s two studio albums, “Beauty Fades,” produced by Tim Austin (Lonesome River Band) and “Without Maps or Charts,” produced by Kenny Smith, were so popular that the band sold ten thousand independently—a feat for a group of 20-somethings on their own.
By 2007, Rebecca (née Hoggan) had married and relocated to Nashville, where Hit & Run took advantage of a more centralized touring base. Months later, her husband John was offered a position in the John Cowan Band. The timing was right. “I was daydreaming about starting a family,” says Rebecca. “I knew I couldn’t make the leap into motherhood while I was practically living on the interstate and at festivals.” A baby boy was born and Hit & Run continued to tour, albeit not full-time; Rebecca continued her studio work (she’s a featured performer on Curb Records’ 2012 release, The Last Ride, the soundtrack for the 20th Century Fox movie); she used her spare time to write.
Oddly enough, it never occurred to Rebecca that she might record a collection of her own songs until she unexpectedly lost her second son in November 2010. “I knew I could rely on creativity and hope in order to heal,” Rebecca relates. In the spring of 2011, she continued the process of writing new material and, with John’s help, refining songs she’d written since moving to Nashville. “While the project itself may have been inspired by loss, its creation has brought joy to the forefront,” she says. In more ways than one, that is—the new album converged with the birth of a baby girl.
Her collaborator and co-producer, Brent Truitt (Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton), brought his Grammy-winning integrity and attention to acoustic detail to When We Fall. And accompanying Rebecca are a host of world-class acoustic artists: her musical partner John Frazier on mandolin & vocals (Steve Martin, Jim Lauderdale, John Cowan), bass vibe-master Barry Bales (Alison Krauss), banjo genre-bender Scott Vestal (Sam Bush), Dobro genius Andy Hall (Infamous Stringdusters), fiddle virtuoso Shad Cobb (John Cowan), banjo innovator Ron Block (Alison Krauss), and, on backing vocals, her longtime Western compatriot, Shelby Means (Della Mae).
When We Fall is something different for Frazier: a collection of self-penned bluegrass and Americana songs, presented in a classic, listenable way. “I wanted to create a timeless-sounding work, because I’m so inspired by music from the 1970’s,” she says. “I rarely listen to ’new’ music. Bonnie Raitt’s first record; old-school Tony Rice and Dave Grisman Quintet; Neil Young: all of this music was recorded before I was born, yet it’s free of datedness.” And but for the one Neil Young cover on the album, Frazier has bravely divulged a lot of herself with her ten original songs, while still showcasing her shredding guitar skills. In songs like “Love Go Away From This House” and “Darken Your Doorway,” she offers painful perspectives from failed love, and, as she puts it, “all the bad that comes with the good.” Yet there are hopeful notes about long-term romance in “Walk This Road” and “Morning & Night.” There’s an old-time feel to “Better Than Staying,” in which each character’s restlessness to keep moving culminates in the calm peace of a dying mother. The song, “When We Fall,” Rebecca says, “asks a question about losing our innocence. Can we fall down and lose self-respect, but get back up and look ourselves in the eye?” The album ends with “Babe In Arms,” a lilting string-band lullaby for her son.
It’s unusual for a touring musician to move to Nashville with the intention of having children soon after, but motherhood has seasoned and enhanced Frazier’s music. Guitar virtuoso Bryan Sutton hails When We Fall as “an incredibly strong record. These are great songs combining smart and inventive guitar playing with deep, emotional bluegrass singing.” While the album showcases Rebecca’s longstanding passion for acoustic guitar with several barn-burning originals, listeners will also hear the pure, pining—and at times exposed—soprano tones of a woman who has matured through seasons of heartbreak, loss, and love. In Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, Dan Miller writes, “Rebecca has worked incredibly hard…to get where she is today. And although she has achieved great success, she continues to be very passionate about her music and her guitar playing. I predict that many will point to Rebecca as a role model, inspiration, and guitar hero. Her journey is one that should serve to inspire any guitar player, singer or songwriter.”
Oxford MS | Rock
“My sisters were the heavens / My brothers were the depths / Now I'm rolling into battle with a smoke between my lips,” Justin Kinkel-Schuster sings on “I Want Blood,” and it's a presiding
image on the self-titled third LP from Mississippi's Water Liars. Joined by GR Robinson on bass and fresh off the success of their album Wyoming and the reissue of their debut, Phantom
Limb, Kinkel-Schuster and Andrew Bryant strut into this effort with their feathers out, driven by a need to create. Forget your precious bands that take years to release their next album:
Water Liars don't know how to stop working. A punk aesthetic – a desire not to overdo songs until they're shiny with emptiness – is the band's defining feature, and it's why their songs are
filled with such raw sorrow. When Kinkel-Schuster and Bryant's voices twine together somewhere in the greater stratosphere of sound, as they do on “Tolling Bells,” try not to feel like a
psalm. To call the songs here an improvement over what they've done before would be to sell the earlier work short. They're simply telling one story, a story that doesn't end, about the
ways we save ourselves and kill ourselves, about the terrors and joys of being a small thing in a big world, and this is just the latest installment.
What strikes you most on this new LP is the violent imagery countered with lines about love and redemption; the band's sound – also a study in contrasts, loud and quiet, fast and slow – builds off of this. There's hope here, dreadful and beautiful, but we're never far removed from having blood pooled at our ankles. On “Cannibal,” Kinkel-Schuster sings, “When you taste the flesh and sweat of the one that you love / Do you feel like a cannibal?” It's a question that haunts this collection of songs, which sways somewhere between darkness and light, between urgency and unrest. Even in love, Kinkel-Schuster's narrators drift like worried fire.
Kinkel-Schuster's voice achieves a new level of weariness here, while still sounding battle-ready. “Strange lands hold no fear for me” he sings on “I Want Blood.” And no wonder – he's a troubadour and these songs are his weapons, dripping with guts, screaming with guilt, softened by the sweet blossoming of love. His songs rumble across the plains in a gritty swirl, trailed by black clouds and lightning flashes. He has a trembling awareness of the music in our blood, and he's filled – as poets should be – with wonder and despair. Bryant – his drums and backing vocals like a deep thread of goldenness laced through the record – is the engine underneath the hood, everything he does a rage against blandness. It's impossible not to fade into his rhythm. Bryant started as a drummer in the church he attended as a kid, and the congregation would fall into the aisles, calling out to the Holy Ghost, repenting on the spot; that kind of religious fury still seeps into his playing and is alive here in new ways.
“Let It Breathe,” a stand-out, is Kinkel-Schuster's tenderest song. It's weather-beaten and weary, reminiscent of Dylan's “Girl from the North Country” and “Don't Think Twice, It's All Right” in its presentation of love-struck awe. But “Swannanoa” may be the best song he's ever written. “I looked death in the face / It was only my father / If I'd known all along / I wouldn't have bothered / with being afraid, with being a coward,” he sings. The song is deeply indicative of his rich personal mythology. Like Jason Molina and Jeff Mangum, his narrators are often swept up in a numinous dream of the world, in long mystical visits to the provinces of lonesomeness and fire and blood. These songs are testimonies, prayers, from the frozen ground to the dark universe of stars.
If you haven't listened to Water Liars, let the music be your introduction. Is it important to know that Bryant is from Mississippi and Kinkel-Schuster is from Arkansas, that they're shaped by the writers whose influence shines through in everything they make – Frank Stanford and Barry Hannah especially – and that their pain is the pain of the wretched and beautiful South? Sure, and it's all there in the songs. On “Vespers,” Kinkel-Schuster sings, “When I left her house / It was snowing out / and I left her for the South / But who cares? / We don't want no one to see us cry. / No, darling, we'd rather die.” These are songs about leaving and staying, about lost fathers and new loves, about distance and memory. These songs are a consideration of what Kentucky poet Joe Bolton called “a future that seems already to have acquired / The irrevocability of the past.” These songs smell of autumn. These songs are the hugeness of rain, the heaviness of breath, the strangeness of cities. Light a cigarette and close your eyes – let these songs whiskey into you, let them brighten your blood, let them be endless in the night.
Staunton VA | Rock
Feisty, funny singer/guitar-slinger Scott Miller is not a simple study.
Raised on a cattle farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where he expects to return before too long, he writes songs full of rural imagery, and his trademark is the mule. But he also has a degree in Russian and Soviet Studies from William & Mary and can write a rock song with the best of them.
In 1990, armed with his prestigious but ultimately useless degree
(“The Soviet Union collapsed when I graduated — I don't take any credit, though"), Miller moved to Knoxville, where he started scraping out a living playing local bars and clubs. The owner of a now-defunct bar called Hawkeye’s quickly recognized Miller’s homespun appeal and gave him a regular night, and he proceeded to build a loyal legion of fans. The marquee outside said “Scott Miller: Every Damn Friday” for four long years. Meanwhile, Miller began touring regionally and his following grew accordingly.
The next phase found him a member of Knoxville roots-rock unit the V-Roys, the first band signed to E-Squared, an indie label founded by the late Jack Emerson and Steve Earle. He then signed with Sugar Hill, for which he recorded three studio albums and a live record with the Commonwealth.
And now comes this fiercely individualistic phase of the veteran artist’s career. “Owning your own record company is not as glamorous as the olden days,” he notes, “but with more money I can buy me some glamorous shit. But seriously, owning this record is not about making more money — it’s about keeping more money.”
Nashville TN | Singer-Songwriter
Nashville-based singer/songwriter Adam Burrows was born and raised in Northeastern Ohio. His songs reflect his small town upbringing and draw the listener in by celebrating life’s everyday moments and embracing those that are fleeting. His lyrics capture the beauty of easy conversation, and his characters remain with you like old friends. Adam’s stories touch his listener simply but deeply, evoking emotions and images of less complicated times. His recollections of hope and heartache are framed by percussive finger-picking and catchy melodies, melodies you will find yourself humming for days.
Adam’s enthusiasm and endearing smile are a given at every show whether he is playing solo or with other artists. Adam began performing regularly two years ago as a duo with talented musician, Josh Preston. Josh sings harmonies and plays guitar, glockenspiel, melodica, and other various instruments. Adam plays well-known venues/events such as Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe, Music City Roots, Musicians Corner, and Knoxville’s Blue Plate Special on WDVX.
Adam’s newest album will be released in the fall of 2013, following up Tall Tales and Never One for Silence. Adam’s two most recent albums were recorded at Me and the Machine Studio in Nashville, TN
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."