FolkWorld Issue 43 11/2010; CD Presentation & Raffle
I Like It Better Here
Music from Home
For Hemifrån's compilation album, I Like It Better Here - Music From Home, several key figures from the 70's US Westcoast scene join forces to celebrate the joy and magic of home. The songs touch a wide pallet of subjects – from a sense of home to afraid to go home, from longing for home to time to go home, and from feels like coming home to the places the devil calls home.
Opening the album, with a live version of the title-track from his latest album, Joel Rafael gets some help from David Crosby and Graham Nash.
Jack Tempchin @ FolkWorld:
Blending troubadourial eloquence, timeless folk and timely political observations, Joel Rafael's latest album “Thirteen Stories High” opens with its lead single, the forthright and simply-worded protest song “This Is My Country,” with backing vocals from Rafael’s friends David Crosby and Graham Nash. “I wish I had written this song,” says Nash, adding, “it’s so powerful and profound…a call from his heart to ours.” Throughout, the album is driven by this directness. It’s also colored by Rafael’s plain-spoken delivery–as gentle as it is affecting–and wry, understated way with a moving lyric. In a recent piece on Rafael, screenwriter Bob Krakower described his singing style as, “a voice that sounds like a cross between Mercy and Vengeance,” continuing, “he walks and talks as if he came off the pages of a 1930’s Steinbeck novel…his is as authentic as any American voice you have heard in a very long time.”
Rafael has performed at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival since its 1998 inception in Guthrie’s hometown of Okemah, OK. Long renowned for his fluid interpretations of the legendary artist’s music, Rafael is also a member of the national touring cast of the famed Woody Guthrie revue Ribbon Of Highway, Endless Skyway. Rafael’s recorded tributes to Guthrie are Woodeye (’02) and Woodyboye (’05), The Songs of Woody Guthrie, Volume 1 and Volume 2, respectively. Together, they present Rafael’s elemental takes on twenty-four Guthrie–and two Guthrie-inspired–compositions. Five feature music Rafael created for previously unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics, given to him by Nora Guthrie, who directs the Woody Guthrie Archives and oversees her father’s legacy.
Songwriter Jack Tempchin (Eagles, Glenn Frey) co-wrote his contribution with Bobby Whitlock (Derek & The Dominoes).
Jack Tempchin is from San Diego. He grew up in the folk era, singing and playing, performing mainly in coffeehouses. Jack is the writer of many legendary songs, like “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “Already Gone” by the Eagles, ”Slow Dancing” by Johnny Rivers, “You Belong To The City” and “Smugglers Blues” by Glenn Frey, as well as many, many others. As well as writing hits for others, Jack has also recorded and released 6 highly acclaimed solo albums.
Citizen K was born on August 4, 1966. The bastard son of a beautiful go-go-dancer, and a famous rock'n'roll star. The story goes, that during a few weeks in November 1965, K's mother happened to meet George Harrison, Brian Jones, Syd Barrett, Keith Moon, Dennis Wilson, Gene Clark, John Phillips and Frank Zappa on separate occasions, and she had brief affairs with all of them - 9 months later, K was born. On his mother's bed of death, the truth was finally known, and K finally understood it all - where he came from, who he was and what he was destined to do in this life. Work began on what was to become "Meet Citizen K" - his debut album, and tribute to all of his eight possible fathers.
Amy Raasch’s win in the 3rd Annual GINA/LAWIM Singer/Songwriter Contest for the Missing couldn’t come at a better time. She is just finishing up her debut album, which will feature her winning song, “Missing:” the story of a missing child told from the perspective of the child’s best friend. Likened to songwriting powerhouses Joni Mitchell, Ryan Adams, and Jane Siberry, her debut is an organic, intimate exploration of love versus independence. Every song is personal: it’s as if she crawls into the skin of the characters that speak through her songs. In fact, her first song was written in the voice of the character she played in feature film “the four corners of nowhere,” a Sundance pick soon to be released on DVD.
Jeff Larson @ FolkWorld:
Smoldering with breathy intensity one moment and exploding into full-voiced ecstasy the next, her dynamic live sound has lit up stages. Her distinctive guitar sound is based on open tunings of her own invention, and is complimented by an accomplished group of musicians. Recently, she recorded a song for internationally acclaimed French producer Hector Zazou. Hear her multi-layered harmonies on “J’irai Pleurer Sous La Pluie” (“Cryin’ in the Rain”) on Zazou’s next record, “Looking in the Rear View Mirror.”
Singer-songwriter Jeff Larson recruits his good friend Gerry Beckley (America) for assistance on production, percussion and back-up vocals.
Vince Melamed @ FolkWorld:
Those who long for the breezy soft rock sound that typified California rock in the early 70s will find Jeff Larson’s latest album, “Left Of A Dream”, a refreshing revival. Larson excels in creating lush, melodic sounds that are tailor made for radio and other forms of mass-consumption, an instantly accessible and agreeable approach that’s both assured and reassuring. With several other stellar albums already under his belt, ”Left Of A Dream” confirms what fans already know, namely that he’s one of the best pop pundits out there these days. Where others may rely on gimmicks or studio gadgetry, Larson’s forte is simply making memorable melodies. Chalk it up to the fact that he’s not on a major label, or that radio is simply too constricted to play mass appeal music, to explain the fact that Larson isn’t the major star he ought to be.
Session-musican and songwriter Vince Melamed (Eagles, JD Souther, Dan Fogelberg) offers up an unreleased gem he nearly forgot about.
Vince Melamed has covered a lot of territory as a sideman and session player throughout his illustrious career. Now this world-class musician has finally settled in to record and release his debut solo album, 'WHAT MATTERS MOST'. Vince grew up in Los Angeles, and caught the show business bug at an early age. He formed a band at 14, and signed a record deal at the tender age of 16. His band, the Mugwumps, played every love-in and Sunset Strip-club in L.A., as well as appearing in and providing music for some low budget teen flicks.
But after a short-lived brush with success, Melamed decided to enter music school at CSUN Northridge. After graduating from college, where he co-hosted a radio show, Vince was back on the road as a sideman for Danny O’Keefe, then continuing on with Bobby Womack, David Ruffin, JD Souther, The Eagles, Rita Coolidge, Karla Bonoff, Glen Frey, Jimmy Buffett, Bob Dylan, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell and Dan Fogelberg. In 1986, he packed up everything and moved to 'Music City'. Success soon followed with a flood of songs recorded by Trisha Yearwood, John Anderson, Jill Sobule, Boy Howdy, Restless Heart, Ty Herndon, Gerald Levert, Jimmy Buffett and most recently, Phil Vassar. Now, Melamed's newest effort, 'WHAT MATTERS MOST', includes some of his country hits, but with a different twist. "I'm basically a rock 'n' roll guy," Vince says.
Anthony Crawford, who has worked with Neil Young, off and on, for more than 25 years, is half of new duo, Sugarcane Jane.
Anthony Crawford @ FolkWorld:
As it turns out, Sugarcane Jane is not just another promising Nashville upstart paying its dues as a tour warmup act. Instead it's a new name for a couple of familiar faces, and the latest step in the evolution of a partnership rooted right here in Lower Alabama. There is no Jane. The act is a duo consisting of Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee. She's a Baldwin County-based singer-songwriter. He's a Birmingham-native whose day job happens to be playing guitar and other instruments for a guy named Neil Young. A couple of years ago, after meeting in Nashville, they recorded an album of folksy adult pop titled "Redbird." Her name and face appeared on the cover; the songs were his, but she sang them as if they were hers. She moved back to Baldwin County. Disaffected with Nashville and wanting to be closer to his parents, who live in Daphne, so did he.
On the Internet, he's been posting installments of a humorous video documentary titled "On The Road With A Rock Star", based on his experiences with Neil Young's band. He recently released a new solo album, "Five is Red." He and Lee have put together a no-frills live recording of Sugarcane Jane-material, and are hard at work on a new studio album. "It's just two people doing what they love to do, and coming from a real honest space," he said. "Our parents seem to like it, so we know we're onto something."
"Music has always been part of my life - from the soundtrack of a collection of fairy tales I listened to as a child, to the hit-singles played on the local Hit Parade radio show during my early teens, to any other kind of music I fell in love with later. I have been an avid listener since I was a kid, playing my parents' records and spending the few coins in my piggy-bank, buying the new ones I liked. Bacharach, Beatles, classical music and big orchestras were constantly filling the living room and those melodies urged me to look for more. It was just a matter of time before I finally had the chance to put my clumsy fingers on the fretboard of a nearly-impossible-to-play cheap guitar. Playing music made me feel good, and singing with my friends made me feel even better. With all due respect, the pleasure I feel making music is definitely stronger than what shakes me when I listen to the masters, but it's the two of them combined which keeps me going. Rock on!"
Greg Copeland @ FolkWorld:
Singer-songwriter Greg Copeland is a Southern California native whose depth of feeling for music – and natural ability to conjure it up with spare, graceful melodies and lyrics that are plainspoken poetry – has been in inverse proportion to his body of work. That balance tips with his latest album, 2008’s 'DIANA & JAMES', an earthy, folk-flavored collection of 12 original songs produced by acclaimed musician Greg Leisz, a pedal steel master and ace guitarist who plays on every track. Throughout, Copeland’s warm, plaintive vocals and lilting melodies come alive against the backdrop of his novelist’s gift for narrative and a pragmatist’s sense of unadorned emotion. The disc follows up his 1982 Jackson Browne-produced debut album 'Revenge Will Come', which was included in Time Magazine’s 1982 year-end 10 Best list (along with Bruce Springsteen’s 'Nebraska' and Richard & Linda Thompson’s 'Shoot Out the Lights'). Copeland and Browne have been friends since they attended high school together in Fullerton, CA, and then entered the L.A. music scene in the late ’60s.
Steve Noonan @ FolkWorld:
Steve Noonan sings about his time in New York City in the 60's, spent with Jackson Browne, Greg Copeland and Adam Saylor.
Steve Noonan released his first album in 1968. It was such a huge smash success that he is releasing his follow-up immediately forty years later! Way back in the 1960’s there was a hip music magazine called Cheetah that labeled Tim Buckley, Steve Noonan and Jackson Browne as “The Orange County Three.” All three were friends who performed at the Paradox in Orange County and other folk clubs and all three were very talented songwriters. Elektra Records had signed Tim Buckley and he had recorded his first LP. Looking for another singer songwriter to duplicate Buckley’s success, Elektra signed Steve Noonan in 1967. It seemed like a dream come true to the teenaged Noonan, but, sadly, it wasn’t. It turned out to be the worst thing for Steve Noonan’s professional ambitions. Elektra and producer Paul Rothchild wanted Tim Buckley II, not Steve Noonan. They tried desperately to recreate Noonan in Buckley’s image and Steve resisted. The clash led to Rothchild storming out and taking his name off the record. Steve said, “You can take my name off it, too.” The record came out. Elektra spent twenty dollars on promotion and it sunk like a stone.
The second Steve Noonan album is the work of a seasoned artist, a singer songwriter who has labored in relative obscurity for all these years. While Tim Buckley fell victim to rock’s excesses, and Jackson Browne rose to fame and played intimate songs in baseball stadiums, Steve Noonan played coffee houses and living rooms, always writing and playing and singing. Most of the artists of the sixties did their best work in their twenties. But here we find Steve Noonan just a bit older and doing some of the strongest work of his life.
Nashville singer-songwriter Keith Miles is joined by Jack Sundrud (Poco) and production wizard Bill Halverson.
Bob Cheevers @ FolkWorld:
"Frankly, I was amazed and humbled at the response to my first CD, "What It Was They Became," in 2006. I had hoped friends and family would give it a listen and they did. I had also hoped to get a few reviews and in that I was wonderfully surprised. I am particularly grateful to the many reviewers, radio programmers and individuals here and in Europe who responded to the album. With "What It Is They Became" exceeding my modest expectations, it was only natural that I began to think of another project. My friend and producer, Jack Sundrud, and I had co-written many songs over the years. My intent has been to put together a project that works as a continuation on the themes and influences I explored in the first album - A mashup of country, folk, Americana, swing and roots music."
Bob Cheevers gets three original members of Bread to join him for his contribution.
Unbenownst to him, Bob Cheever’s 2007 CD “Texas To Tennessee” foreshadowed a big event in his life... A move from Nashville to Austin which happened shortly after the album was released. Sixteen years as a journeyman tunesmith in Nashville’s country music biz was preceeded by 25 years in the pop field in California which included several major label deals with chart hits under his own name and that of The Peppermint Trolly Company. Bob has spent the last 8 years touring relentlessly in Europe doing at least one 40-60 concert tour each year, as well as playing house concerts and venues in the US, year after year, while his songs are heard on TV, in movies and on radio all over the world.
Bob's songs include tales of romance, novelty tunes along with a personal look at the world through his own eyes, including character studies of people who were caught up in situations as different as life during the Civil War, to the simple day to day struggle of life on earth, during any time period. Rootsy, blues-flavoured tales many of which are right out of Bob’s Mississippi Delta birthright, spoken in voices that sometimes sound like whispers in your ear from beyond the grave and other times like a lover’s prayer... His new album, “Tall Texas Tales”, is described by his producer Stephen Doster this way: “Bob came to Texas, looked around and began to write about the things he saw. His observations about Texas made me wanna go there... And I’m from Texas!“ About his songs, Bob says: "I don't know if these stories are true, but they happened to me".
That golden California Sound comes alive again on 'Time Still Knocking', Steve Postell's solo debut. This rich, organic work draws on rock, folk, blues, country and R&B, all distilled through well-honed craftsmanship coupled with genuine heart and the musical camaraderie of a staggeringly talented group of musicians. A singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, Steve's remarkable career begins a new chapter.
Robbin Thompson has been a Richmond resident since 1969. He is the Vice president and co-founder of In Your Ear Music and Recording Corp. A company that composes and produces music for commercials and films. His musical career spans over 30 years and still counting. He was the lead singer in the Bruce Springsteen Band Steel Mill, won The American Song Festival twice and so far has recorded ten albums. Thompson along with friend Steve Bassett authored the song ‘Sweet Virginia Breeze’ which is considered by many to be the unofficial state song of Virginia.
After nearly 30 years as a songwriter and guitar-player with several local bands in Borås, Sweden, Mikael “Micke” Persson released his debut album, “Moving With Mrs Carter”. The album’s twelve songs have a strong solid foundation, a lot of warmth, and beautiful harmonies. Recorded during a two-year-period, but written after a creative outburst on a single afternoon, the songs came to life during a turbulent time of inner and outer crisis. “I needed to build my own room, both mentally and physically”, Mikael says.
Reformed duo Batdorf & Rodney contributes a wonderful live version of "Home Again" recorded at Sirius XM Radio.
John Batdorfs uniquely passionate vocals and guitar playing landed him his first major record deal back in the 70s, and he's continued to develop and grow as an artist to this day. As the song writing and lead vocal half of Batdorf and Rodney, John began honing his craft and developing his own style back in the early 70s. When he wasn’t touring with bands, or producing music for a variety of clients, he never stopped writing songs. In the early 90s he partnered with fellow songwriter Michael McLean and released a handful of albums that captured a personal resonance John found with his universal songs of hope and inspiration. Never one to stagnate creatively, John expanded his artistic palette from acoustic driven pop/rock to story driven melodies.
Jackson Browne @ FolkWorld:
Now into the second half of the new millennium, John has recorded a CD with James Lee Stanley "All Wood And Stones" (a highly original take on early Rolling Stones songs, done acoustically with tight harmonies). His first full length solo CD, "Home Again" is an acoustic guitar and vocal enthusiasts dream come true! Johns’ next CD, "Still Burnin'" teams him up again with Mark Rodney, the first new Batdorf and Rodney recordings since 1975!
Closing the set is Jackson Browne with a heartfelt rendition, recorded live, of his seasonal anthem "The Rebel Jesus".
'Time The Conqueror', singer-songwriter Jackson Browne’s first studio album in six years displays the artist’s ability to address personal, inner-directed reflection and matters of social and political import with equal passion and intelligence – and eloquent lyrics – throughout. Ever since his acclaimed 1972 self-titled debut album, Jackson Browne has defined a genre of songwriting and performing that is charged with honesty, emotion and personal politics. He’s been recognized with inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2004) and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame (2007), with recent humanitarian honors including the John Steinbeck Award and the Chapin-World Hunger Year Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award.
|All texts courtesy of Hemifrån.|
(1) Joel Rafael,
(2) Jack Tempchin,
(3) Amy Raasch,
(4) Jeff Larson,
(5) Savana Lee,
(6) Anthony Crawford,
(7) Francesco Lucarelli,
(8) Steve Noonan,
(9) Bob Cheevers,
(10) Steve Postell,
(11) Robbin Thompson,
(12) John Batdorf,
(13) Jackson Browne,
(14) I Like It Better Here - Music from Home
To the German FolkWorld
© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 11/2010
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