René Marie: Music for These Times

RenéŽ Marie
MotŽma Music, RubyBird Studios – Brooklyn
December 17, 2015,

My favorite artist of 2017 didn’t even release an album this year. René Marie first came to my attention in 2013 with the release of “I Wanna Be Evil,” a collection of songs originally recorded by Eartha Kitt. Later that year I saw here in Tree of Life, a production of the remarkable SPARC Live Art Series.

I was impressed, but it wasn’t until I picked up The Sound of Red, her most recent CD, released in May of 2016, that I really began to appreciate when a gigantic talent she is. Of course I digitized the CD and listened to it constantly on my iPhone, but if it had been back in the day and I owned the vinyl album, I would probably have worn out the grooves by the beginning of 2017!  I was completely unaware of the other 9 albums she had released.

Then I stumbled on a YouTube video in which she performs the most poignant version of “Oh Shenandoah” I’ve ever heard. Continue reading

Concert Gallery: The Contenders at Lizard Lounge


This gallery contains 9 photos.

Guitarist Jay Nash and drummer Josh Day are The Contenders, and they have recently released their debut EP. It’s a fantastic collection of original Americana songs with strong, evocative lyrics, that are set to tunes that are both soulful and … Continue reading

Gallery: Inside the Studio for the Making of Will Dailey’s National Throat


This gallery contains 22 photos.

National Throat, Will Dailey’s 4th album, will be released to the general public soon, but two of the songs from it, “Sunken Ship” & “Castle of Pretending” are already available for free on NoiseTrade as part of on a 20 … Continue reading

Music, My Education, and Amnesty International

Conspiracy of Hope Poster

Conspiracy of Hope Poster

I’m watching the DVD of the “A Conspiracy of Hope” Concert in Giant’s Stadium in 1986. The all-day concert was the last in a ten-day series to raise money for and awareness of the work done by Amnesty International, and it featured folk acts Joan Baez and Peter, Paul, and Mary; Jazz artists artists like Mary Joni Mitchell, the Neville Brothers and Miles Davis; Latin and World Music stars like Ruben Blades, Carlos Santana and Fela Kuti; and some of the biggest artists of the day like Lou Reed, U2 and the Police. One of the highlights for me is Peter Gabriel’s performance of “Biko”, an powerful song that tells the story of a South African anti-apartheid activist who died in detention in 1977.

That song moved me so deeply I had to find out more. Continue reading

Help St. Paul de Vence Make a New Album

kick StPaul

St.Paul de Vence were looking for fan support to make a new album, I was on board, right away. Getting involved in crowdsourcing projects makes me feel like a bit of a producer, and I like the feeling of making music happen. Backers often get the music before anyone else, but if that’s not enough, you can get additional perks. In the case of St. Paul de Vence, I also just really want them to make an album as soon as possible. I wrote of my appreciation for their self-title debut in a previous post. It was an interesting, unique project with a distinctive sound.


The campaign ends Sunday Dec 22, 9:00pm EST, so act now!

The St. Paul de Vence Kickstarter Campaign is about to enter it’s last week, so if you want to get in on it, you need to do it soon. Earlier this week I interviewed band leader Benjamin Doerr about the plans for the new album. Find out what he had to say and watch a St. Paul de Vence performance below.
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Interview with Declan Bennet, the Singer/Songwriter Starring in the West End Production of Once

Declan Bennett accompanied by Alon Bisk

Declan Bennett accompanied by Alon Bisk

This past Friday I caught a show on Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage 3 that was a revelation. Declan Bennet, currently starring in the West End production of Once, is on a brief break, during which he played a show in New York. It was brilliant! It’s been a while since I left a concert this excited about the artist, but this guy is the real deal!

I’d only discovered his music a few weeks ago, when I read a short blurb about the live and unplugged remake of his 2011 album Record: Breakup. I didn’t know who he was, so I certainly wasn’t aware of the original, electric, studio version of Record:Breakup, but something about the blurb intrigued me. I remember jotting down the link on my phone, and finding it later that night, I was blown away.  Continue reading

Offbeat Holiday Music

a1023094489_2On Friday at Rockwood Music Hall Delcan Bennet played a new single, “Father Christmas Knows,” that comes from the perspective of the black sheep of the family, the one too often left out of the celebrations. The song has bells and is dark, but optimistic at the same time.

Now I have to admit, I have warm and fuzzy feelings toward Christmas, and I like Christmas music, especially the traditional stuff. Continue reading

Interview: Will Dailey on National Throat

will daileyBoston-based independent recording artist Will Dailey‘s advice to aspiring singer-songwriters is to seek out experiences that you can call on in your work, and “listen, not just to music, but to everything around you.” It seems to have worked for him. He grew up surrounded by music from across the spectrum from Classical to Folk and says it all left an imprint. He exercises the the songwriter’s prerogative to call on whatever styles of influences seem appropriate for the song. The result is songs that are rich and complex, gathered into albums that are varied and full of surprises, refusing to be constrained by the conventions of a narrow style of genre.

Will Dailey and Bleu duet during the last show on the PledgeMusic Tour

Will Dailey and Bleu duet during the last show on the PledgeMusic Tour

A hard working and prolific artist, Dailey has done well for himself since his first self-produced release in 2004, GoodbyeRedBullet, in spite of being repeatedly knocked around by the vicissitudes of a recording industry struggling to come to terms with the digital age. He’s released 4 albums to date, 5 if you count Torrent Volume 1 and 2 separately. Collectively they reveal a songwriter with mastery over a wide variety of styles, and an interest in exploring a wide musical pallet. And while each album has it’s own distinctive feel, each is also a a musical buffet of sorts, with varying musical styles juxtaposed and hidden gems to discover.
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Dean Fields Talks about “Any Minute Now,” Arriving Tuesday

Cover artwork by Brian Thibodeau

Cover artwork by Brian Thibodeau

Any Minute Now is a new EP from Nashville-based singer-songwriter Dean Fields due to arrive… wait for it…. As much as I’d love to type “any minute now” at this point, there is a release date and it’s just days away, Tuesday August 13. The EP follows his 2011 EP Under A Searchlight Moon, a clever and wildly romantic selection of tunes that Fields wrote himself. On this collection all but one of the tracks were co-written with other artists, yet they are tracks that he felt strongly invested, and that he felt spoke for him as an artist. It was a big change for an songwriter who had always worked alone. It may seem odd to follow up an EP with another EP, and in fact, he had planned a full length album.  But a confluence of life circumstances and aesthetic considerations led to the decision to release this collection of songs now, saving the others for a later release. The songs seemed to belong together, and they were ready for release.

I learned about all of this and more in an August 1, 2013 interview with Fields in the Stratton Student Center at MIT, in the midst of a series of concerts in Cambridge, Boston and environs. Now based in Nashville, he grew up in Mechanicsville, VA, just outside of my hometown of Richmond, VA. I’ve been listening to his music for a while, but had not seen him perform. We talked the morning of his show at that institution of the Cambridge music scene, Club Passim. Of course the main topic of conversation was the new record Any Minute Now. Continue reading