Bob Mosolgo

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Decade of Difference: Waylon Jennings

Today would have been Waylon Jennings’ 84th birthday. The singer personified the outlaw country genre in the 70s, but Jennings had been performing since the 50s. He achieved his stardom by rejecting the Nashville sound of the day, choosing to perform in a stripped down honky-tonk style that rejected the use of legions of session musicians. His stance as an anti-Nashville artist drew others, including Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson and the outlaw country movement was born.

Born in Texas, Jennings began performing as a twelve year old. Quitting school at fourteen, he moved to Lubbock and took a job as a radio DJ, where he met Buddy Holly. Holly mentored Jennings on guitar and produced his first single in 1958. Jennings came on with the Crickets as temporary bass player on their last tour and was also scheduled to fly on the plane ride that ended in Holly’s tragic death in early 1959, but he gave up his seat at the last minute to the Big Bopper, who was suffering from a cold.

Early in his career, Jennings signed to A&M Records, making for an odd pairing with Herb Alpert, who wanted Jennings to be a pop musician. Waylons’ insistence on pure country put an end to that record deal.Moving to Nashville, Jennings moved in with Johnny Cash, and by the early 70s was recording songs written by Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver.
His 1976 album Wanted: The Outlaws was a collaboration that defined outlaw country to a wider audience, and for the following six years Jennings was a fixture in the country charts. Drug abuse and the decline of interest in outlaw country slowed his career – but he quit drugs and returned with the supergroup The Highwaymen to record several hits through the late 80s and early 90s.

While his sales declined over his later years, Waylon Jennings remained a popular musician thanks to his pioneering work in the 70s. He died of complications from diabetes in 2001.

2021-06-14T07:57:28-04:00June 15th, 2021|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: Jon Batiste

Jon Batiste is another successful musical talent educated at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, he graduated (along with classmate Trombone Shorty) in 2004. Only a year later Batiste released his first album, Times in New Orleans as a seventeen year old..

Moving to New York, Batiste studied at the Juilliard School and began performing in the city. He released a second live album in 2005 based on those early shows. Diversifying his sound, Batiste formed Jon Batiste & Stay Human, playing impromptu outdoor concerts mixing jazz, R&B, gospel and pop. The group released their first full length album in 2013 which topped the jazz charts.

Jon Batiste & Stay Human was selected as the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert a position they have filled since the show’s debut in 2015, Displaying his versatility, Batiste has performed in the Check Berry and Fats Domino tribute on the Grammy awards show, toured with the Dap-Kings and won a Grammy nomination.

Batiste has been active as a composer, working with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to score the 2020 movie Soul. They won both the Academy and the Golden Globe Awards that year. With the Oscar win, Batiste became only the second black composer to win the award, after Herbie Hancock in 1987.

2021-06-11T09:29:34-04:00June 14th, 2021|Decade of Difference|

Country Feedback Playlist for June 13, 2021

Artist – Album – Title – Release Year
Daniel Crabtree – The Way I See It – On the Run – 2021
Brock Gonyea – Where My Heart Is – My World Turns to Silver – 2021
James Hand – Shadow On The Ground – Just a Heart – 2010
Catherine Britt – Home Truths – Fav’Rit Song – 2021
Bill and The Belles – Happy Again – Sobbin the Blues – 2021
The Shootouts – Bullseye – Here Come the Blues – 2021
Steve Earle – J.T. – They Killed John Henry – 2021
Vivian Leva – Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno – Leaving on Our Minds – 2021
Geoffrey Miller – All Night Honky Tonk Man – The Stars are Talkin’ – 2021
Jimmy Dale Richardson – 58 Buick / She’s Wild – 58 Buick – 2021
Vincent Neal Emerson – Fried Chicken & Evil Women – Willie Nelson’s Wall – 2021
Shannon McNally – The Waylon Sessions – Out Among the Stars – 2021
Tony Joe White – Homemade Ice Cream – Saturday Night in Oak Grove, Louisiana – 1973
Sara Petite – Rare Bird – Medicine Man – 2021
Dallas Moore – The Rain – Every Night I Burn Another Honky Tonk Down – 2021
Rodney Crowell – Triage – Something Has to Change – 2021
Los Lobos – Native Sons – Sail On Sailor – 2021

2021-06-14T10:53:50-04:00June 13th, 2021|Country Feedback|

Decade of Difference: Widespread Panic

Dating back to 1986, Widespread Panic cultivated a dedicated audience for their jazz and blues influenced Southern rock by constantly touring. The group holds the record for the most sold out shows at Red Rocks in Colorado with 60.Typically the band will play multiple nights at a venue with each show consisting of two sets of largely unscripted improvisational music.

John Bell and Michael Houser met in 1981 at the University of Georgia and began playing as a duo. In 1984 the pair added bassist Dave Schools and in 1986 childhood friend Todd Nance joined as drummer with the group making their first appearance as Widespread Panic. By 1992 the band had reconfigured and began a nationwide tour and in 1993 had their first national record release.

Widespread Panic had their most active years in the late 90s and early 2000s. A free CD release party in Athens drew a crowd of more than 80,000 and the band headlined two nights at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. In 2002 the group lost founding guitarist Michael Houser to pancreatic cancer. A second founder, drummer Todd Nance passed away in 2020.

While the band does not tour as extensively as in earlier years, they do have many dates scheduled for this year. They also have released a steady stream of concert recordings taken from their decades of live shows.

2021-06-10T07:45:04-04:00June 11th, 2021|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: Blackberry Smoke

What does southern rock sound like in the 21st century? Thanks to Blackberry Smoke, it sounds a lot like it did in the 20th century as the band has stuck to the formula pioneered by the Allman Brothers , Lynyrd Skynyrd and others to create a sound steeped in hard rock, blues and country.

The band members met playing in various bars around Atlanta and formed the group in 2001. Unable to choose a name, the band took the advice of Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes who suggested “Blackberry Smoke” – for no reason other than it wasn’t used by anyone else.

After recording their first album in 2003, the band went on the road to tour, and that consumed the next five years of the group’s life.

Blackberry Smoke had a breakthrough in 2012 with their third album
Whippoorwill. It appeared on both the rock and country charts and laid a foundation for their successful career touring and recording.

Today they have two number one country albums to their credit and have firmly established themselves as a modern version of what a good old 70s southern rock band would sound like in concert.

This years’ You Hear Georgia celebrates the bands twentieth anniversary with a love song to their home state, produced by Georgia native Dave Cobb. Two additional touring musicians appear on the album and have been fully integrated into the band bringing them to seven members, and Warren Haynes also appears on the album and shares songwriting credit on some of the tracks.

2021-06-09T07:48:38-04:00June 10th, 2021|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: Dr. Dog

It is not often that musical collaborations started in middle school amount to much of anything, but in the case of Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog that is just what happened. Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman began playing music together in eight grade and from the start preferred performing their own original songs versus covering others. There are quirky aspects of the band that go directly back to that time – like all of the band members having nicknames that begin with “T”.

By the early 2000s the pair were active in several music projects while also spending time on Dr. Dog, but by 2005 it was mostly all Dr. Dog, with the band completing their first US tour. Dr. Dog made heavy use of the internet to promote themselves. In 2007 they released an album’s worth of material online for free, placing one song a week on their website for download throughout the summer. This and several late night TV appearances through the early 2000s helped build the band’s popularity.

Now with ten studio albums and fifteen years of touring under their belts, Dr. Dog has made an announcement that surprised their fans in different ways. Earlier this year the band announced that their 2021 tour would be their last – that Dr. Dog would be retiring from touring. At the same time the band said that this was not an end for the group, but that whatever they were going to do going forward was just not going to include touring.

Fans in the Commonwealth will get the first opportunity to see Dr. Dog on their last tour when the band plays as part of Goose’s FRED Festival at LOCK’N Farm on August 20-22.

2021-06-08T07:31:56-04:00June 9th, 2021|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: Fleet Foxes

A high school friendship in Seattle between Robin Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset grew over a shared appreciation for the music of Bob Dylan and Neil Young and eventually resulted in the formation of Fleet Foxes in 2006. With a sound that drew heavily on late 60s pop and British folk, the band gained popularity through word of mouth, and had success with music streamed from their MySpace account.

By 2008, the band had undergone some lineup changes, and also released their first EP and LP to positive critical reviews.. The album sold reasonably well in the US, but even better in Europe and their tour dates there and in Australia were typically sold out. Billboard named the album their Critic’s Choice album of the year for 2008.

Fleet Foxes followed the 2008 album with a Grammy nominee in 2011’s Helplessness Blues. Following the tour supporting the album drummer Josh Tillman left the band for his own solo career as Father John Misty. Robin Pecknold moved to New York and enrolled at Columbia University while also touring in his own. The other band members took on their own side projects, and it was six years before another Fleet Foxes album appeared.

No such hiatus occurred before the bands most recent release Shore, but the process was quite different. Pecknold recorded the album without the help of the remaining band members, using musicians at several studios around the world.

2021-06-07T00:05:29-04:00June 8th, 2021|Decade of Difference|

Decade of Difference: New Order

Rising from the remains of the UK post-punk band Joy Division, New Order successfully embraced music from the underground club culture years before it’s mainstream acceptance.

When Joy Divisions’ vocalist Ian Curtis hung himself in 1980, the remaining members immediately disbanded. Soon they reformed with the addition of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert to form New Order and released their first music in 1981. Their first material was originally written for Joy Division but it was not long before they were drawing on influences from the New York club scene and Germany’s electronic band Kraftwerk to create their own synthesizer driven sound. In the UK they had their first hit in 1983 with Blue Monday.

Their success in Europe was enough to draw the attention of Quincy Jones who signed the band to his record label. It took until 1985 for the band to break through in the US with the top 40 single True Faith.

New Order took advantage of the dance music craze in the late 80s – a trend that they predated with their early 80s albums. In 1990 the group recorded the theme song for England’s World Cup team. World in Motion was the band’s only number one hit.

The band was on again, off again through the 90s as members focused on side projects. In 2001 they released a new album with a different guitar driven sound. Since then the band has been together for performing or recording new music only occasionally. Most recently they released a single in 2020 and a live album and film this year of their 2018 London show.

2021-06-03T08:18:10-04:00June 7th, 2021|Miscellaneous|

Country Feedback Playlist for June 6 2021

Artist – Album – Title – Release Year
Bill and The Belles – Happy Again – That’ll Be Just Fine – 2021
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis – Wild! Wild! Wild! – I Just Lived A Country Song – 2018
Charlie Marie – Ramble On – Heard It Through the Red Wine – 2021
Justin Trevino – The Scene of The Crying – You’ll Never Get a Better Chance than this – 2012
Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music – A Little Light – 2014
The Kody Norris Show – All Suited Up – Ole’ Carolina – 2021
The Barlow – Horseshoe Lounge – Homesick Gypsy – 2021
The Outlaws – Hurry Sundown – Hurry Sundown – 1977
Old 97s – Fight Songs – Lonely Holiday – 1999
Hoyt Axton – Life Machine – Boney Fingers – 1974
The Tin Cans – Back for More – Sound of the Highway – 2021
Mark Collie – Book of My Blues – Book of My Blues – 2021
Willie Nelson – That’s Life – You Make Me Feel So Young – 2020
Sara Petite – Rare Bird – Rare Bird – 2021
The Gourds – Blood of the Ram – Arapaho – 2004

2021-06-07T10:09:12-04:00June 6th, 2021|Country Feedback|

Decade of Difference: Paquito D’Riveria

Cuban Paquito D’Rivera was born into a music loving family. His father a musical instrument salesman, exposed him to classical music and the jazz of Duke Ellington at an early age. He also took Paquito along on visits to famous Havana music clubs like the Tropicana. It is no surprise that the son began music lessons early, starting to play saxophone at five years old.

By seventeen he was a featured performer with the Cuban National Symphony and at twenty five he was a founding member of Irakere, a group that fused classical, lazz and Cuban music. By 1980 D’Rivera had become dissatisfied with the Cuban government – especially its position that jazz and rock represented “imperialist” music and should be discouraged. While on tour in Spain he sought asylum at the American embassy.

It did not take long for D’Rivera to settle into the US jazz scene, releasing his first two solo albums in 1981 and 82.

After relocating to the US from Cuba, Paquito D’Rivera continued his work towards fusing music of his homeland with jazz and classical by becoming a founding member of the Dizzy Gillespie organized United Nations Orchestra. The ensemble focuses on the influence of Latin and Caribbean music on jazz. In addition to his contributions to jazz, D’Rivera has had a successful career in classical music, appearing as a featured performer with symphony orchestras worldwide. He is also an award winning composer who has been faithful to his roots with music that aims to build bridges between different musical styles.

This long career has brought Paquito D’Rivera many awards including eleven Grammys and a National Medal of the Arts. The National Endowment of the Arts describes his influence this wat “he has become the consummate multinational ambassador, creating and promoting a cross-culture of music that moves effortlessly among jazz, Latin, and Mozart.”

2021-06-03T07:56:57-04:00June 4th, 2021|Decade of Difference|