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Decade of Difference : Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett  recorded his first number 1 record in 1951 and continued to make hits through the 1950s. Unlike most pre rock and roll stars, Bennett managed to continue his career when rock changed everything, and experienced a resurgence in popularity beginning in the 1990s.

Bennett grew up in Queens, the son of Italian immigrant parents. Encouraged to pursue his artistic interests of singing and painting from an early age, Bennett sang while waiting on tables as a teen, before enlisting and serving in the Army in World War II. His first appearance as a nightclub singer came in 1946, and in 1949 Bob Hope discovered him working in New York. Hope immediately invited Bennett to come and record at Paramount records and suggested the stage name that stuck through the decades – Tony Bennett which is a shortened version of Anthony Dominick Benedetto.

Tony Bennett’s dedication to the Great American Songbook has made him a constant through the decades, performing for 11 presidents and delivering the classics to generations of listeners. After a downturn in his career in the 70s and 80s, Bennett returned to scoring Gold records after bringing financial and addiction problems under control.

Tony Bennett decided that there was a new generation of fans that would respond to his music and style – virtually unchanged – if given the chance. This was proven to be correct as exposure on MTV, late night TV and a series of alternative rock radio organized benefit concerts brought Bennett back to selling records again.

At 94, Bennett continues a career that now includes more than 70 albums, 20 Grammy wins and more than 50 million records sold.

2020-07-31T07:43:29-04:00August 3rd, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Country Feedback Playlist : August 2nd, 2020

Country Feedback Playlist for                        8/2/2020

Artist – Album – Title – Release Year

Dan Bern – Ivan’s Barbershop – Blue Highway – 2020

Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison – Our Year – Motor City Man – 2013

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John Prine – Diamonds In The Rough – Yes I Guess They Oughta Name a Drink After You – 1972

Jim Lauderdale – This Changes Everything – Lost in the Shuffle – 2016

Linda Gail Lewis – Hard Rockin Woman – Battle With The Bottle – 2015

Zephaniah Ohora and The 18 Wheelers – <Single> – Black & Blue – 2020

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Brandy Clark – Your Life Is A Record – Who You Thought I Was – 2020

Jimmie Dale Gilmore – Jimmie Dale Gilmore – Dallas – 1989

Carlene Carter – Two Sides to Every Woman – Swap-Meat Rag – 1979

Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers – Dead Flowers – 1971

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Molly Tuttle – but I’d Rather be with You – Olympia, Wa – 2020

Secret Emchy Society – The Chaser – Whiskey Fightin’ Terri – 2020

Johnny Cash – American Recordings – Let the Train Blow the Whistle – 1994

The Gourds – Blood of the Ram – Arapaho – 2004

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White Owl Red – Afterglow – The Way I Feel Now – 2020

Turnpike Troubadours – Goodbye Normal Street – Morgan Street – 2014

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2020-07-31T07:44:44-04:00August 2nd, 2020|Country Feedback|

Decade of Difference: Flogging Molly

Combining Celtic and punk in a 7 piece band is no easy task, but that is the route Flogging Molly has travelled since 1997. The band began regular shows at the LA bar Molly Malones in 1997 and then took the show on the road, which is where they have mostly stayed, taking their folk punk sound around the world.

Dublin singer Dave King formed the band after playing in heavy metal bands with former members of UFO and Motorhead. Initially he had a deal to record a solo record, but the label objected to his using traditional Irish instruments on the record, and he ultimately dropped out of the deal. When the new band began their weekly shows in LA, they needed a name and as King recalls, “We used to play there every Monday night and we felt like we were flogging it to death, so we called the band Flogging Molly.”

Flogging Molly has some charting songs from their first album recorded in Ireland, 2007’s “Float”, but their big draw is a powerful live show. In fact, their best selling recordings are audio/video releases of their live performances including “Whiskey on a Sunday” which was certified Platinum.

The pandemic put a crimp in Flogging Molly’s St. Patrick’s day plans. For the first time the band was unable to play for an audience, so King and his bandmate / wife Bridget Regan offered up an acoustic version of the title song from their “Float” album making it available to fans on their web site.

2020-07-29T07:40:02-04:00July 31st, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference : The Black Keys

Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney began a friendship as pre teens, meeting in the neighborhood they shared in Akron, Ohio. Although they had different friends and interests in high school, they shared a love of music, meeting to jam together and after Carney got a tape recorder, to record music.

After high school and unsuccessful stints at college, Auerbach asked Carney to help him record a demo he could use to try and book out of town shows as he was attempting to make a living playing music. At the first session, none of the musicians Auerbach asked to record with him showed, so Carney filled in as backing band. This led the pair to form a two man band and record a demo for submission to record labels.

Their first record came in 2002 and the collection of new material and blues covers gained a cult following with the pair mowing lawns to fund a first tour to get in front of their fans. Still on a modest budget for their 2nds album, “Thickfreakness” was recorded in a single 14 hour session in Carney’s basement.

The Black Keys bluesy low fi sound and midwest origins often drew comparisons with the White Stripes. Neither group appreciated the critique and it led to friction, with Jack White at one time banning Auerbach from his recording studio. In 2010 the Black Keys came fully into their own  with their “Brothers” album.

After moving to Nashville, the pair recorded the album mostly in Muscle Shoals using others to help in the production. The result was their most successful album with the Danger Mouse produced “Tighten Up” from the album spending 10 weeks on top of the Alternative charts. The album won three Grammys and sold 1.5 million copies worldwide.

2020-07-29T07:18:14-04:00July 30th, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference : Elizabeth Cook

Elizabeth Cook appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in 2000 and has logged more than 400 appearances on the Opry despite not being a member. In 2012 a David Letterman Show appearance brought her wider exposure.

The youngest of 12 children, Cook played mandolin and guitar appearing on local radio and TV in her native Florida. Her mother and father were musicians and her father had some time to hone his skills in prison while serving time for running moonshine. After his release, the parents formed a country band and Elizabeth was on stage with them starting at 4 years old.

A move to Nashville in 1996 led to a debut record in 2002 called “Hey Y’all”.

Elizabeth Cook toured the world before and after her third album, 2010’s “Welder” but then multiple problems stalled her career: she got divorced, her farm burned and six family members died including her mother and father. Although Cook insists drugs were not the issue, she cancelled upcoming tour dates and entered rehab at the insistence of her management.

On her return, she released “Gospel Plow” an album that got her a spot on the David Letterman Show and much wider exposure. She eventually was on the show four times.

After more than a decade of producing primarily country albums, Cook took a different direction on her latest release “Exodus of Venus” drawing influences from a wider circle of female singer / songwriters and using a new producer. A new album “Aftermath” is coming in September.

2020-07-28T07:53:55-04:00July 29th, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference : Washed Out

Ernest Weatherly Greene is Washed Out. After completing college, Greene was unable to find a job as a librarian and moved back home where he began producing songs from his bedroom. Initially his music was a faster more guitar focused sound called Lee Weather before settling into the sound now popularized as Washed Out.

His initial release, Life of Leisure came out in digital form in 2009 followed by a limited release on vinyl and cassette. The break came in 2011, when the Fred Armison / Carrie Brownstein TV show “Portlandia” selected a song from the record for their title song. This led Washed Out to a recording contract with Sub Pop records.

After recording his first full album in 2011, Greene was able to move out of his parents house, settling in Athens, Georgia. After a long tour and a follow up album in 2013, Greene took some time off from Washed Out in order to consider his musical direction.

When Washed Out returned in 2017 with an album, it was on a new record label, an arrangement that lasted only for the single record. His new album “Purple Noon” is due in August and he is back on Sub Pop. Although Washed Out came forward in the Chillwave explosion of the early 2010s, Greene has managed to remain relevant and popular a decade later while many of the other bands that appeared in that same moment have either disappeared or left the sound behind.

2020-07-26T08:41:25-04:00July 28th, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference : Emitt Rhodes

Most people do not recognize the name Emitt Rhodes, but his pioneering recording work led the way for how much of our music is made today.

Rhodes was a prodigy appearing in his first band at 14, signing his first recording contract at 16 and at 19 was a solo performer writing all of his songs and playing all the instruments.

Using all of his signing money, Rhodes built himself a home studio in a shed behind his house where he recorded three albums in the early 70s. The soaring vocals and songwriting invited comparisons to the Beatles and rumors circulated that Emitt Rhodes was just a made-up name and the Beatles had actually recorded the album.

It was not true. Rhodes had done it all himself, in his home studio using a 4 track tape recorder.

Emitt Rhodes signed a contract requiring a new album twice a year. The “one man Beatles” could not keep the schedule with his home recording style and a lawsuit followed. Eventually Rhodes gave up and disappeared – doing no more recording for over 40 years.

In the 80’s, the Bangles covered a Rhodes song and later director Wes Anderson used his music in “The Royal Tannenbaums”, sparking interest in the artist. Eventually musician Chris Price tracked down Rhodes and started a friendship. After several years, Rhodes began to show Price songs he had written since his exit from the industry in 1973. Chris Price organized a full recording of the new songs using artists who had admired his earlier work including Richard Thompson, the Bangles, Pat Sansone and Aimee Mann. Rhode’s new album came out in 2016, 43 years after his previous release.

Photo Credit: Musical Shapes blog

2020-07-23T07:49:59-04:00July 27th, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Country Feedback Playlist for July 26

Country Feedback Playlist for                        7/26/2020

Artist – Album – Title – Release Year

Love Canon – Covers – Graceland – 2018

Zephaniah Ohora and The 18 Wheelers – This Highway – I’ll Take Yesterday – 2017

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Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen – Hold My Beer Vol. 2 – Warm Beer – 2020

Joshua Ray Walker – Glad You Made It – Boat Show Girls – 2020

Terry Allen – Smokin’ The Dummy – The Heart Of California – 1980

Red & The Romantics – Red Oak Express – The Good Ole Boys – 2014

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Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Country Girl – 1973

Carolyn Martin – Cookin’ With Carolyn – That’s What I Call Cookin – 2010

James McMurtry – CandyLand – Shopkeeper – 1992

Chatham County Line – Strange Fascination – Nothing – 2020

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George Jones and Merle Haggard – Big City – Big City – 1981

Steve Forbert – Early Morning Rain – Pick Me Up on Your Way Down – 2020

Eliza Gilkyson – 2020 – Sooner or Later – 2020

Wayne Hancock – A-Town Blues – Miller, Jack & Mad Dog – 2001

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ZZ Top – Tres Hombres – Shiek – 1973

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2020-07-24T07:30:42-04:00July 26th, 2020|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference : They Might Be Giants

Nearing four decades, They Might Be Giants have weathered major changes in music. Through it all they have continued to evolve while somehow remaining the same weird band they’ve been from the beginning.

John Flansburgh and John Linnell met in high school in Massachusetts but did not form a band together until completing college and moving to Brooklyn. Eager to please, the group performed their first show as El Grupo De Rock and Roll as they were playing at a Sandinista rally.

Their first album came in 1985 and by their third album they had a significant hit with “Birdhouse in Your Soul” reaching #3 on the Modern Rock charts in the US. The band’s audience changed, too. Previously the darlings of New York city cynics and college radio fans, TMBG found themselves playing to suburban crowds of geeky teens.

They Might Be Giants has continued releasing quirky albums for adults, but also has several children’s albums. Although lighter, the children’s music retains the absurdity found in TMBG’s music. For example, 2009’s “Here Comes Science refers to the human heart as “the Bloodmobile,” a moniker as disturbing as it is cute.

The band has approached music distribution in progressive but quirky ways. Starting in 1983 the band introduced ‘Dial-A-Song’ a number people could call to listen to a track in the form of an answering-machine message.In 2004 the band was one of the first to sell music online, offering MP3’s on their own site.

Now with 22 albums, the band has collected 2 Grammys, a Tony nomination and sold more than 4 million records.

2020-07-22T07:55:48-04:00July 24th, 2020|Miscellaneous|

Decade of Difference : Alison Krauss

As a child Alison Krauss listened to a little bit of everything from folk to opera to pop and rock music, but quickly fell in love with bluegrass when she began playing fiddle at the age of five.

Soon she was attending music festivals and entering fiddling competitions. As a 13 year old she won the Walnut Valley Festival competition and the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass in America named her the “Most Promising Fiddler in the Midwest”. More importantly, she met all of her Union Station band mates at these festivals, including Dan Tyminski. Krauss’s major label debut came in 1987 with the release of “Two Late to Cry” when she was only 16.

Alison Krauss has been credited with boosting the interest in bluegrass through her recordings and her music’s use in soundtracks including ‘O’ Brother Where Art Thou’ and ‘Cold Mountain’. Now with 14 albums, Krauss broadened her reach by collaborating with Robert Plant on the album “Raising Sand” which won 5 Grammys.

Overall, Alison Krauss has won 27 Grammys and sold over 12 million records. She ranks third on the list of all time Grammy winners and in 2019 received the National Medal of Arts.

2020-07-21T08:25:08-04:00July 23rd, 2020|Decade of Difference|