Tuesday, February 27, 2018

New from Erika Wennerstrom (Heartless Bastards)

I have been infatuated with the music from Heartless Bastards for nearly as long as I knew the band existed. It's hard for me to imagine music without the vocals of singer Erika Wennerstrom

The inspired rock songstress, who celebrates her solo debut next month - is still somewhat of an underground music hero. I'm certainly hoping that her March 23rd album premiere brings her the long-overdue commercial success and critical praise she's so richy deserves. 


March 1 - Berlin, Germany - Lidolino
March 2 - London, UK - St. Pancras Old Church
March 7 - New York, NY - The Music of Led Zeppelin at Carnegie Hall
March 14 - Austin, TX - Sweetwater Party at handlebar Austin
March 15 - Spiecewood, TX - Luck Reunion
March 17 - Dripping, TX - Plum Creek Sounds Presents: From the Hills with Love
March 20 - Houston, TX - Continental Club
March 21 - Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon
March 22 - Atlanta, GA - City Winery
March 23 - Macon, GA - Cox Capitol Theatre**
March 24 - Wilmington, NC - Greenfield Lake Amphitheater**
March 25 - Norfolk, VA - The NorVA**
March 26 - Charlottesville, VA - Jefferson Theater**
March 28 - Wilmington, DE - The Queen**
March 29 - Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Bowl**
March 30 - Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Bowl**
March 31 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer**
April 2 - State College, PA - The State Theatre**
April 3&4 - Toronto, ONT - The Mod Club**
April 6 - Chicago, IL - Thalia Hall**
April 7 - Chicago, IL - Thalia Hall**
April 8 - St. Paul, MN - Turf Club
April 10 - Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room
April 11 - Kansas City, MO - Knucklehead's
April 12 - Tulsa, OK - The Vanguard
April 14 - Dallas, TX - Old 97's County Fair

** = supporting Drive-By Truckers

Sweet Unknown was produced by Danny Reisch in Lockhart, TX, and features contributions from My Morning Jacket's Patrick Hallahan, Kelly Doyle, former Okkervill River member Lauren Gurgiolo, Heartless Bastards bassist Jesse Ebaugh and others. There's something somewhat frightening, yet utterly liberating when leaving the confines of a successful band to venture solo - especially a band whose latest record was called "effortlessly brilliant" by critics. But, such is the case with Wennerstrom who is taking a break from her Austin-based rock band, Heartless Bastards, to deliver this solo debut.

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On going solo, Erika writes, "it was a really freeing experience. I found my strength in my vulnerability as an artist, and really, just as a person. It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed and stand on my own two feet."

bonus: RSL review of The Arrow (2012)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

This is The Marshall Pass

The Marshall Pass tackles both the everyday real problems and the esoteric anxiety in our complicated lives. The duo of Craig Rawding  and Duncan Arsenault have a special talent for underscoring what's real and needs to be heard. 

The band describes themselves as "Modern-folk with plenty of Appalachian and Western sounds to send you back in time." The Marshall Pass are first and foremost about setting listeners on the edge of their seat while keep their toes tapping and their minds whirring. 

Craig (The Curtis Mayflower and The Delta Generators) sings with all instrumentation by Duncan (The Curtis Mayflower.) All the magic occurs at Duncan's home studio, their music is packed full of authenticity and realism. Song after song blasts through an Americana landscape flooded with emotions of loss, and heartache. 

In January, The Marshall Pass took part in the wildly successful Tom Petty tribute show in Rhode Island. For many folks unfamiliar with the band the show was a wakeup call of sorts. As the music of Tom Petty was retold in a way that was somehow more relevant and touching than anyone could have hope for or anticipated.

Angel Dream from Tom Petty’s amazing soundtrack to the film She’s The One was the first song I thought of when The Marshall Pass was asked to perform at a tribute concert to Tom Petty," writes Arsenault. "It has always been one of my favorite songs of his. No Second Thoughts off of the Heartbreakers second album You’re Gonna Get It is a another favorite. We hope you enjoy our take on these two songs."

Tonight The Marshall Pass joins a stacked lineup. It's The Outlaw Roadshow's third Winter Residency show at Alchemy in Providence. The show is free. I promise you, you're not going to want to miss this...

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Daphne Lee Martin - Brandy

Celebrating Valentine's Day with a delicate new love song from Connecticut songstress Daphne Lee Martin. Spending this holiday with Daphne has become something of a tradition for me. The singer has debuted a song on my radio program and/or on the music blog during Valentine's Day for years now.

Jesse Newman photo

True to form this brand new song "Brandy" is a beautiful but melancholy "celebration" of the relationship concept itself. This one is anticipated to appear on Daphne's forthcoming Scared Fearless album (2018). You're hearing and feeling it first!

Near the closing of this one we hear Daphne pay homage to Linda Perry for her unforgettable 1992 single, "What's Up" (4 Non Blondes.) It's a most unexpected segue for the single - but when you consider emotional fit, you quickly come to realize it's the ultimate marriage of lyrics and tone. 

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Patrick Coman - Tree of Life

Patrick Coman's Tree Of Life (Feb 23) is a blues-heavy, cinematic-telling of tall plights and harrowing tales. Each song contains some fraction of their songwriter in this atmospheric film score blues.

Tree Of Life was co-produced by Peter Parcek and Marco Giovino (Robert Plant, Buddy Miller, Norah Jones).  Delving into it with "Trouble #2." Here Coman narrates the lament, joined by female vocal accompaniment (Abbie Barrett and Kylie Harris) - together reminding us that not all trouble in the world comes from love - just most of it.. 

Hard-nosed artistic sensibility and Coman's dedication to purpose have paid dividends. Over the past year he’s opened for a crop of revered Americana artists like Del McCoury, Robbie Fulks, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, Joan Osborne, and John Fullbright.

Not every branch on the Tree Of Life tells the same story. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The album appears to be several somewhat disjointed tales made common by Coman's vocals and the band's application of the Blues. Each limb leads to a different adventure - with the binding being the spine of the tree.

It's utterly impossible to not hear reverence for bands like The Animals - who probably would have loved to cover "Don't Reach" during their 1964 residency at Newcastle's Club A Go Go. The recording notably features “Beehive Queen” Christine Ohlman.

My first thought when listening to these blues is, why the hell isn't Patrick Coman already famous? As it turns out the Artist turned his back on a career in the music business to spend his time as a stay at home father by day and full time musician by night.

"I wrote the majority of the songs that became Tree Of Life in the months leading up and immediately following the birth of my first child," Coman writes. "The tree of life represents the cosmic bridge between heaven and earth, which struck me as a perfect symbol of my daughter’s journey into this world."

In addition to performing, Coman hosts the popular For the Sake of the Song concert series, which brings together top songwriters to collaborate in performing songs from their biggest influences alongside their own original work. He also produces and hosts the weekly “Local Folk” radio show on WUMB (Boston’s NPR music station) and is a board member of the New England Americana Festival.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

The Fundamentals of Dan Masterston

Dan Masterson would probably end up breaking your heart if it wasn't already stretched-out and over-shaken. This is a story about an album, but perhaps it's also the story of bootstraps and finding fortitude.. Masterson is a singer and storyteller for these troubled times. His new album, When Reality Calls, is a coming of age story told through rock, guitar and piano.

2018 finds Masterson is in a creative surge. Produced by Dave Brophy, this album grew through collaboration with longtime bandmates Alec Gaston (co-producer), Matthew Silva, and Jamie Howell. The ruckus produced here is beautifully compiled and while organic-feeling, the song clusters and overall album are cohesive - making this one of my early favorite releases of the year.

Like so many other great contemporary musicians, Masterson delivers tales about finding oneself in strange and uncertain times. When Reality Calls takes on issues of digital dependency, romance, and economic stress. These are instantly relatable stories narrated reliably, and with great skill.

This album is entertaining and playful, yet contemplative and full of cautionary narratives. The piano-driven punctuation and vocal delivery by Masterson are front and center on the record. Reminds me a great deal of the material from indie heroes Jukebox The Ghost. It's a fair comparison. (Just listen to the sensational 'Don't Burn Yourself Out.')

This record gets high marks from the biggest frenetic in the room. Slow down, dear reader and listen to this album - you'll find plenty here to love. Highly Recommended!

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