Plus a gallery from a great concert with unexpected audience participation! Narrative songwriting is a staple of American music, but it’s not easy to do well. The charts are full of derivative, clichéd, sentimental songs that do sell well enough, … Continue reading →
Tomorrow night Eliot Bronson, Dean Fields, Jason Myles Goss and Andy Zipf will wrap up their 15-day, 15-city tour at The Evening Muse in Charlotte, NC. In five previous posts you can read about the tour and what was planned. … Continue reading →
Texas-born, Florida-based, singer-songwriter Season Ammons has been making music in front of an audience since the once shy child found found her voice in a middle school choir. When she was just 17 she moved to Nashville to pursue her dreams. She had some brushes with quick success, such as being advanced as a finalist for the USA Network show Nashville Star in 2004. Ultimately she wasn’t chosen, yet she refused to give up doing what she loves and kept building a following.
In a phone interview she told me that when she finally released her first studio recorded CD, tellingly titled “I’m Alive,” she intended to make a statement. The self-produced disc what her way of asserting that she was in the music business to stay. I wanted to announce that I’m here, I’m doing this full time, and I wanted to show people what I could do.” As an independent artist responsible for every aspect of the project from the songs and sound to the packaging and marketing, there was a lot to do and a lot on the line, and she had to learn fast. Continue reading →
I had a chance to chat with Dean Fields before his show at Club Passim last Friday, opening for Ari Hest. I was excited to hear about his upcoming tour with Eliot Bronson, Jason Myles Goss, and Andy Zipf. All … Continue reading →
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 →
Will Dailey and Bleu wrapped up their PledgeMusic sponsored tour on Thursday night with a rocking, rollicking, high energy show at Brighton Music Hall, supported by Air Traffic Controller that felt a little like a reunion of old friends. Perhaps … Continue reading →
Boston-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
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. Continue reading →
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 EPUnder 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 →
In 2012 Eric Himan decided he wanted to record an album with a different sound than anything he’d done before. Though the 34-year-old, Tulsa-based, singer-songwriter had already released 10 albums on his own label, he knew that this project would cost a lot of money, so he took to Pledgemusic to raise money for an album to be called Formal. T-shirts were printed with bow ties on them and everything. He recorded six songs,
but wasn’t happy with the results. So what did this guy who’s previously only been accountable to himself on his own label do? He pulled back, retrenched, and started over. The result was no longer called Formal, but Gracefully, named in honor of his grandmother who had raised him, and had died while he was working on the project.
Gracefully is a 12-track collection of original songs, the 8th such album he’s released since his self-titled debut in 2000, and it is different, both sonically and in the way it came into existence, but Eric doesn’t see it as radically so. He rightfully points out that there’s a natural progression between it and the albums leading up to it. He’s been increasingly experimenting with the styles of music on this album, as well as playing with other musicians and, of course, with the piano. On July 7 I had the chance to talk with him in some detail about the album, the frustrations and joys of making it, and the people he worked with. Along the way we also talked about the challenges of supporting oneself as a musician in the industry today, songwriting, and a few other topics.
Hayes Carll fronts the Warren Hood Band at Johnny D’s in Cambridge, MA on June 11
Known for his clever lyrics and turn of a phrase, I didn’t know what to expect when I interviewed Texas singer-songwriter Hayes Carll. The man writes incredibly clever lyrics that can be awfully sharp-witted at times. And I had given him reason to be annoyed with me. I live in Boston, MA; he in Austin, TX and we set up a time on my lunch break from my real job for a phone interview. I called as scheduled, only in spite of working for nearly a decade for a national non-profit that had one of it’s primary offices just north of Austin, it slipped my mind the city is in the Central Time Zone, so I called an hour early. I sent a contrite text and nervously awaited a reply. Over the next couple hours and a business like exchange, we set up another interview the next day. I expected some sort of reprimand, a demand to keep the interview short, or at least a snide remark. I got none of that, only a gracious acceptance of my apology. It struck me that Hayes might be a nice guy. What a relief! I really needed this interview! Continue reading →