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Decade of Difference: Laura Veirs

Laura Veirs grew up with only a passing interest in music but as a college student in Minnesota her introduction to punk rock led her to join an all female band. Travel to China to pursue her academic interests in geology and mandarin Chinese left her with time alone, where she often wrote songs.

After college she landed in Seattle and participated in open mic nights, where she connected with producer Tucker martine, who would become a long time collaborator and eventually her husband. Two independently released albums won critical acclaim in the Pacific Northwest and ultimately got Veirs a recording contract which produced “Carbon Glacier”, her first national release.

Veirs was dropped by her label after two records, but she continued with her own label to release several highly regarded albums. Along the way she and Martine married and had two children, leading Veirs to release a children’s album, which won a Parents Choice Award.

Laura Veirs and Tucker Martine recorded the latest Veirs album “My Echo” in 2018 while the couple was struggling with marital problems which ultimately led to a divorce. The 20 year relationship ended with a divorce settlement, awarding Martine rights to the new album and Veirs the house and custody of their children.

2020-12-03T08:13:58-05:00December 4th, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: The Hackensaw Boys

In 1999 David Sickmen and three friends formed the Hackensaw boys after meeting in the central Virginia music scene. After bouncing around several ideas, the group decided on a string band format infused with the spirit of punk rock. Their sound was formed via busking in the mid-Atlantic, where they collected additional band members. Always fluid, the band included as many as twelve members with at least twenty-one appearing with the band at one time or another.

After playing in the 2002 Unlimited Sunshine Tour curated by Cake, the Hackensaw Boys drew wider and more eclectic audiences. For a while they performed as country legend Charlie Louvin’s backup band and their first major label release came in 2005

Now more than two decades on, the Hackensaw Boys have morphed into a more manageable group of four musicians and recently returned to recording albums. 2016’s “Charismo” was produced by Grammy winning Larry Campbell, and is named after their own invention and signature instrument, the Charismo. It’s a homemade tin can contraption mounted on a shoulder harness played as a percussion instrument.

Last year the band appeared on World Cafe’s Sense of Place Charlottesville and released a new EP. “A Fireproof House of Sunshine” features a song that David Sickmen wrote prior to forming the band in 1999 but only completed in 2019. It touches on Sickmen’s time in Charlottesville in the 90s.

2020-12-01T08:16:46-05:00December 3rd, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: Jesse Colin Young

A founding member of the 60’s folk rock group the Youngbloods, Jesse Colin Young established a solo career in the 70s. The band was an early example of the power of crossover marketing. “Get Together” from their debut album in 1967 only became a hit after it’s use by the National Council of Christians and Jews in a public service commercial in 1969.

After Young’s first solo album was a success in 1972, he decided to disband the Youngbloods. His most successful album came in 1975 with “Songbird” and he toured with Crosby, Stills and Nash in the mid 70’s and ended the decade by touring with the No Nukes concerts organized by Musicians United for Safe Energy.

Jesse Colin Young had less successful releases in the 80’s and by the 1990s had formed his own record label operating out of his California home until it was destroyed in a 1995 fire. Young and family then moved to Hawaii to a coffee plantation he purchased in the 80s. From Hawaii he continued to record and toured regularly until 2012 when he gave up music. It was his son who encouraged his return in 2016. He and his son and his friends formed a band that played with Young at SXSW and a new album came in 2019.

2020-11-30T07:57:38-05:00December 2nd, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: Gilbert O’Sullivan

Gilbert O’Sullivan was born in Ireland but moved to the UK as a seven year old, where he took up playing piano. O’Sullivan did not care for music theory and mostly played by ear. After playing in some local bands, he moved to London to launch his career.

He released several successful singles in the UK in the late 60s before landing a recording contract, and his first album “Himself” in 1971 was well received in Europe. It took a song released the following year to make him famous around the world. “Alone Again Naturally” a ballad touching on suicide and loss reached #1 in the US and many other countries. It was added to the international release of “Himself” which made the top 10 in the US.

Gilbert O’Sullivan had several top 10 US singles with the last one charting in 1980. In 2018 he released his nineteenth album and he made the UK charts, his first charting release in 40 years.

O’Sullivan was instrumental in establishing an important legal precedent regarding payment for material sampled by other artists. He went to court in 1991, when rapper Biz Markie sampled Alone Again (Naturally) without permission. O’Sullivan won 100% of the royalties.

2020-11-26T23:06:01-05:00December 1st, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: Little Feat

It was 1969 when Lowell George and Bill Payne formed Little Feat. They met while George was a guitarist in Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, and keyboardist Payne had auditioned for the band. George was soon encouraged by Zappa to form his own band, after George proposed the song ‘Willin’ to Zappa as a potential Mothers song. Little Feat’s first albums were critically well received, but proved to be commercial failures, leading to a breakup and reforming of the band.

The second version of the band was the most successful, recording five albums from 1973 thru 1979 and contributing to albums by other artists including Robert Palmer and jazz drummer Chico Hamilton. In 1979 George declared the band to be disbanded, ending the first Little Feat era.
Only days after disbanding Little Feat and while on tour supporting his first solo album, Lowell George died in his hotel room in Arlington, Va. at age 34 from a heart attack.

In 1987 the remaining band members reformed Little Feat, initially adding Craig Fuller as vocalist and songwriter. Band members have come and gone, but Little Feat continues today, delivering their own unique blend of rock, R&B Jazz and Cajun influenced music.

2020-11-26T22:37:17-05:00November 30th, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Country Feedback Playlist for November 29, 2020

Artist – Album – Title – Release Year
Alec Lytle & Them Rounders – The Remains of Sunday – The Mountain – 2020
Blue Moon Rising – One Lonely Shadow – Angeline – 2008
Townes Van Zandt – At My Window – Blue Wind Blew – 1987
Brandy Clark – Your Life Is A Record – Who You Thought I Was – 2020
Various – The I-10 Cronicles – I’m a Lonesome Fugitive – 2000
David Bromberg – Big Road – George, Merle and Conway – 2020
Tom Russell – The Rose of San Joaquin – The Rose of San Joaquin – 1995
Dub Miller – – Fightin’ Texas Aggie – 2013
Robert Earl Keen – A Bigger Piece Of The Sky – Paint The Town Biege – 1993
Loretta Lynn – I Like ‘Em Country – The Home You’re Tearin’ Down – 1966
49 Winchester – III – Why Else Would I Call You – 2020
Clay McClinton – Bitn at the Bit – Beer Joint – 2014
Chris Knight – Little Victories – Missing You – 2014
Rosie Flores – After the Farm – Blue Highway – 1992
The Flatlanders – Now Again – Pay the Alligator – 2002
The Marshall Tucker Band – Searchin’ for a Rainbow – Walkin’ and Talkin’ – 1972

2020-12-01T15:31:08-05:00November 29th, 2020|Miscellaneous|

Decade of Difference: Imogen Heap

It took UK born and classically trained artist Imogen Heap a decade to find success in the US, initially through the inclusion of her song “Hide and Seek” in the soundtrack for the TV show “The O.C.”. The song was not available at that time to the public, but she immediately released it and it charted in the UK and on iTunes immediately.

The related album “Speak for Yourself” was available from Heap’s own label, but was soon picked up in the US by RCA records and appeared on the US charts. This prompted her first tour of North America and gained her two Grammy nominations in 2006.

Imogen Heap grew up in London and developed an early interest in composing and songwriting, initially recording herself on piano, then singing over the cassette recording. This advanced to learning music engineering using an Atari computer. By 18 she had signed a recording contract, but the label soon ran into financial difficulties and she was left to self release her records.

The breakthrough of 2005’s “Speak for Yourself” stabilized her recording contracts, and she soon attracted collaboration offers, including co-writing songs with Taylor Swift and composing the music for the West End play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” in 2016.

Heap’s two Grammys came for her production work on her own album 2010 and as part of the team on Swift’s album “1989”.

2020-11-26T22:34:24-05:00November 27th, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie may be the world’s only three time one hit wonder. His sole top 40 hit was “City of New Orleans” then there is his “Coming into Los Angeles” which he sang at Woodstock and was included in the album and movie and finally there is “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” the song that filled the entire first side of his debut album which sold over a million copies.

Born in New York, Arlo was the fifth child of legendary folk musician Woody Guthrie and his childhood was filled with his fathers friends including Pete Seeger and Cisco Houston who brought Arlo on stage for the first time as a five year old. He says he did not realize how famous his father was until he moved to a private school in the sixth grade, where they song some of his father’s compositions.

Arlo Guthrie began performing as a 19 year old and amongst his first songs was “Alice’s Restaurant”, which he drew out to about twenty minutes with a comic monologue. After being invited to perform the song in New York at Carnegie Hall folk festival, Guthrie found himself on stage in front of 20,000 people at the Newport Folk Festival less than a year later. His first album with the song on one side spent 65 weeks on the charts and for Arlo Guthrie, established him as a performer distinct from his famous father.

Arlo Guthrie’s following albums sold well in the 70s but declined with the decline of interest in singer/songwriters and the emergence of disco. He remained a strong live performance draw, but his last album to chart came in 1981.

Also in 1981, the state of Massachusetts chose Guthrie’s “Massachusetts” as the official state folk song. Just last month Arlo Guthrie announced that he was retiring from music, citing recent health problems.

2020-11-24T08:27:58-05:00November 26th, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: Percy Sledge

Happy Birthday to Percy Sledge who would have turned 79 today.The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member spent some time working as a farm worker and a hospital orderly in the 60s while touring the southeast as a member of the Esquires.

A former hospital patient introduced Sledge to the record producer who eventually got him signed to a contract. His classic “When a man Loves a Woman” was his first release in 1966. Reportedly written about his girlfriend leaving him for a modelling career, the song reached #1 on both the R&B and Pop charts and was the first gold record ever for Atlantic Records.

Percy Sledge had no other song reach the heights of “When a Man Loves a Woman” but his soulful voice powered him to success worldwide through the 70’s on a suite of songs critic Dave Marsh described as “emotional classics for the ages”.

Sledge resurfaced in the late 80s when his signature song appeared in a Levis commercial, returning it to the UK top 10, and then again in the 90’s when Michael Bolton covered the song. 25 years after Sledge’s original version hit #1 on the charts Boltons version also hit #1.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member and Rhythm and Blues Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award winner died in 2015 of liver cancer.

2020-11-24T08:29:31-05:00November 25th, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: Jim White

Jim White grew up in Florida and attended film school at NYU, where he began songwriting and performing. Prior to becoming a musician, White led an aimless, diverse life, working countless menial labor jobs:  dishwasher, landscaper, lifeguard, cook, surfboard laminator, road builder, culminating with thirteen long years driving a taxi cab in New York City.

A demo of his work found it’s way to David Byrne’s record label and White released his first album in 1997. His music is often described as idiosyncratic and quirky, on the outer edges of Americana. In the UK he may be best known for narrating a surrealistic road film called “Searching to the Wrong Eyed Jesus”.

2007’s “Transnormal Skippero” took White in a different direction  – a more upbeat and optimistic album that he describes this way: “Now, when everything around me begins to shine, when I find myself dancing around in my back yard for no particular reason other than it feels good to be alive, when I get this deep sense of gratitude that I don’t need drugs or God or doomed

romance to fuel myself through the gauntlet of a normal day, I call that feeling ‘Transnormal Skiperoo’.”

Jim White has released eight albums so far, and this year’s “Misfit’s Jubilee” may be his most accessible yet. It was recorded in Belgium using mostly local musicians, with only his long time drummer coming with White.

Maybe that will change White’s impression of his audience in the US which he describes as “America could not care less about me and my music. I’m sort of known as a musician’s musician there. If I sell any records its to musicians and oddballs…..College professors….. Inventors. That kind of thing.”

2020-11-22T20:55:21-05:00November 24th, 2020|Decade of Difference|