Posts Tagged ‘bluegrass’

The_Sweet_Potatoes_1If you are a fan of the American version of the improv show called Whose Line Is It Anyway, you most definitely know the program’s musical director, Laura Hall. What you may not know is that there is a lot more to her than just the ability to improvise behind those who constantly come up with the humor on the show. Coming as something that should be no surprise to anyone, Laura Hall makes use of her musical training in more than just the role of a musical director on an Improv show. On days when she is not found backing up people who make a living making things up off the top of their heads, Hall puts her musical background to use with the band called The Sweet Potatoes.

The Sweet Potatoes is a trio of musicians who blend together some classic musical styles in order to create their sound. Laura Hall makes up only one part of The Sweet Potatoes as she performs on piano, accordion, ukulele as well as mandolin and vocals. Hall’s husband Rick Hall, who has made a name for himself as music composer for the likes of shows such as NCIS and KC Undercover, joins the two ladies in the group as he performs on vocals, bass and harmonica. Kelly Macleod (the woman who formed The Sweet Potatoes with Laura Hall as a duo before Hall’s husband joined them) completes the outfit as she performs on vocals and guitar as well as being a writer with Laura Hall on the band’s songs. Together, the trio combines their various musical talents to create a musical ensemble that creates music that focuses on the style of Folk music.

As a duo, Laura Hall and Kelly Macleod had already released one self-titled album of music in 2010 before Rick Hall joined the ladies. As a trio, The Sweet Potatoes created one album of music, 2014’s Faith, Good Neighbors and a Telephone. Now, the trio formation of The Sweet Potatoes has released a second album, (third all-around for the band) 2017’s Headin’ Home.

Headin’ Home from The Sweet Potatoes begins with the track “Those Pines”. The track begins with two-part harmony coming from Laura Hall and Kelly Macleod to create a Bluegrass-style vocal before Macleod takes the lead on vocals as the group begins a track that is truly a Bluegrass fan’s dream. The track features a story-like feel to the lyrics. Macleod sings of remembering the pine trees where she grew up. As she sings of the place she called home, she describes the time when she came home to attend her mother’s funeral and then taking a walk within the trees so that she could find peace of mind. “Those Pines” is easily one track that will fulfill any Bluegrass fan’s dream of finding real bluegrass music.

With the next track of “By the Light of Day,” the song finds the trio creating a track that falls musically closer to Country music than it does Bluegrass. In fact, the track’s musical blend is about half and half Country and Folk. As Kelly Macleod took the lead on vocals with the previous track, it is Laura Hall’s turn to sing lead. While many of us already knew Hall was a talented musician, “By the Light of Day” proves that she can also sing rather well. Just like with the song before it, this track once again features strong harmonizing from the three band members.

On the third track entitled “Second Hand News,” The Sweet Potatoes create a track that revolves around two people spending quality time together. With this track, Kelly Macleod once again takes the lead on the vocal. Macleod sings about slowing things down while relaxing out in the grass and allowing things to happen as they will as she proves she is better than the woman who has taken her place in the now-defunct relationship. The lyrics to the song contain enough of a hint at what is being sought after without going overboard. “Second Hand News” contains a gentle feel with a moderate pace to the music.

The next song on the release is “Home”. And with this song, the trio brings a little more wholesomeness back to their music. The track “Home” finds Macleod once again singing lead on a track about looking back at the way life used to be. To go along with a gentle pace to the music, “Home” features a lyrical content that is sure to evoke memories of times gone by as Macleod sings about the good times that made her childhood so memorable. “Home” is one of the shining moments on the newest release of Headin’ Home from The Sweet Potatoes.

Many Folk albums venture from time-to-time into a more Gospel-oriented musical direction. Headin’ Home from The Sweet Potatoes is no exception. On the track “Down to the River,” Kelly Macleod sings lyrics about heading down to the water that will cleanse her soul. The music on the track picks up a little more Bluegrass feel than the previous tracks contained. The track contains enough of a religious overtone without getting too preachy. For those who enjoy Bluegrass music, especially old-time Bluegrass with that Gospel connection, “Down to the River” is a great modern-day addition to the genre.

On the next track on the album, The Sweet Potatoes create one of the most commercial songs on the entire album. The song “Without You” once again features Kelly Macleod on lead vocals as she sings about her romantic desires. Macleod’s vocals about not wanting to spend her life with that someone special join music that is closer to Old-fashioned Country music than Bluegrass. In fact, the feel of the music as well as the contents of the lyrics make the track perfect for inclusion on Country radio formats that deal with more of the Classic sound and style. While this track may being rather unusual when comparing it to today’s contemporary Country music, the formats that focus on the style that would include Dolly Parton, George Jones, Patsy Cline and Marty Robbins would welcome “Without You” from The Sweet Potatoes with open arms.

Just as “Without You” comes to an end, the trio of The Sweet Potatoes creates yet another track that features an Old-fashioned Country feel to the music. “Only Thing We Got” features Laura Hall once again on lead vocals as she sings about the one thing that binds us all together- love. While there is still a strong retro feel to the music on the track, “Only Thing We Got” seems like it would fit more with today’s style of Country than most of the tracks on the album. The track exists somewhere between “timeless” and modern.

As you make your way through the dozen tracks that make up the Headin’ Home album from The Sweet Potatoes, you encounter different musical elements that blend together easily to create an album that feels as if it should have been released several decades ago. And while there is the retro or throwback element to the band’s music, The Sweet Potatoes will appeal to fans of the older style of Country/Bluegrass music. For those who are already fans of that style, be sure to add this album to your collection. And to those who are just beginning to explore the older styles of music, Headin’ Home album from The Sweet Potatoes,  is a good place to start.

For more information, check out the Tiny Desk Contest of “Home” from The Sweet Potatoes.

Click on the album cover below to purchase a copy of Headin’ Home from The Sweet Potatoes. 

Sweet Potatoes Headin Home

Moccasin BenderRandy Steele has spent time as part of the band Slim Pickens Bluegrass. But after a few years in that musical ensemble, he went out on his own while taking the style of music that the group had been known for with him. Now as a solo artist, Steele has begun making a name for himself taking that style of music and making it fit his own personality. That resulted in the 2017 album entitled Songs from the Suck, a title that had to do with the location where Steele was from, Suck Creek, Tennessee.

Having released one solo album and finding a fanbase that was positively receptive to his music, Randy Steele returns with a new EP of music. This release is entitled Moccasin Bender.  And just like his previous album, the title of this new collection of music comes with a reference to the area where Steele comes from. Moccasin Bend is both an archaeological site and national park located in Tennessee.

With a lot of Bluegrass/Country music being influenced by real life, it comes as no surprise that Randy Steele would create a song that came straight out of his life. The EP lead-off song “Mabbitt Springs” deals with Steele being thankful that his son beat cancer. For this track and its upbeat message, Steele creates a musical background that contains a completely full sound consisting of banjo, slide guitar, fiddle and drums. That full sound leads off the EP which switches to a much simpler feel on the very next track.

Moccasin Bender continues with the track “Adam and Rose”. The simple musical accompaniment of just the banjo creates a relatively simple Bluegrass track. Like the previous song, “Adam and Rose“ finds Randy Steele creating a track with a real-life feel to the lyrics of the song. “Adam and Rose” features lyrics about two young adults making their way in the world and coming upon life’s everyday difficulties. The music’s slow pace seems to be a perfect fit as the music acts like the perfect bed for the lyrics that spell out the story.

The new six-song EP from Randy Steele continues with the track “Big Talkin’ Woman”. With this track, Steele creates one of the most commercial moments on his release. The track features a full-bodied feel to the music including a slide-guitar solo in the body of the track. While the song easily has a throwback feel to the music, that retro feel would have fit in well with songs in the seventies/eighties. “Big Talkin’ Woman” from Randy Steele will give fans of Old-fashioned Country music something to truly enjoy.

With the next track, Randy Steele touches on a subject that is rather difficult: Drug Addiction. The track called “Age of Ben” features lyrics that act as a storyline as Steele tells the story of as boy who never really had a real chance at life. The main character in the song is born with a developmental problem that gets worse later in life. And having been given up for adoption, he never got to know his real mother. When all gets too difficult to deal with, “Ben” turns to opium which just makes things worse. Just like with the track “Adam and Rose” earlier in the release, “Age of Ben” comes complete with a rather simplistic feel to the music. But unlike the other track which featured the banjo, this track finds Steel creating the simple music of the track with the guitar. The guitar-only background to the track seems to add to the sadness contained within the lyrics.

While several of the tracks on this release find Randy Steele exploring his storytelling side, the track “Rummies” finds him creating a track that has a rather familiar feel to those who know artists such as Gordon Lightfoot. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that this song was written around To Have and Have Not, a novel written by Ernest Hemmingway, it would have been a good guess that Steele had used Lightfoot as an influence for the track; which he may have as far as the music of the song is concerned. “Rummies” shows off Steele’s ability to take a storyline and set it to music.

Randy Steele’s new six-song EP comes to a close with the track “Pretty Little Girl with a Blue Dress On”. The track closes the EP out with one of the simplest musical approaches. The lone banjo and Randy Steele’s vocals on the short track bring to mind something that could have come from someone like The Stanley Brothers or someone else that are easily just as well-known from the Bluegrass genre.

Randy Steele stepped out on his own with his first release entitled Songs from the Suck. Taking the next step with his second release, Steele proves that his songwriting skills are still just as sharp. With the track “Adam and Rose” which features a rather simple musical back ground, or “Rummies” that shows off his ability to take an idea and make it his own, the Moccasin Bender release proves to be a well-made second release from the Tennessee-based Randy Steele.

For more information, check out his PR firm, Whiplash PR

Moccasin Bender from Randy Steele is due to be released in the near future. Until then, check out Randy Steele’s live version of “Adam and Rose,” a track that will be on the Moccasin Bender release. 

 

thegoodmorningnagsSix-piece NYC based ensemble The Good Morning Nags is currently in the middle of making a name for themselves. The band consists of founding members Tim Hassler (fiddle, vocals), Ben Quinn (mandolin, guitar, harmonium, vocals), Titus Tompkins (percussion, mandolin, vocals) and Britt Reagan (guitar, dulcimer, vocals) as well as Mark Spitznagel (banjo, vocals) and Pete O’Neill (bass, vocals). As a group, the band comes together to create music that bridges the gap between the sound of classic Bluegrass music and more recent music that falls into the category of Americana because of the blending of styles to create a new sound and feel to the music. The Americana style from The Good Morning Nags blends Bluegrass, Folk and some Country together to create a sound that will find its place among fans of early forms of music. Throw in a little Old Timey influence to the music and you have a recipe for musical success.

Having originally formed back in 2010, The Good Morning Nags spent some of their time busking in the subways in New York. Since that time, hundreds of performances were logged before the band even recorded their first EP. But now, the band is celebrating the release of their new self-titled EP. The new self-titled EP from The Good Morning Nags begins with the track “Sugar Baby”. The track features a strong Folk/Bluegrass blend with a slight hint of something more to it. The blend suggests that this version of the track is not quite what lovers of Folk or Bluegrass may come to expect. That firmly puts the track into the Americana genre. The vocals on the track find the vocalists blending their voices in harmony just like you’d find on many Bluegrass tracks. Blending everything together into one song, The Good Morning Nags have a strong track that leads off their self-titled release.

With the next track on their self-titled release, the band does what most Bluegrass bands do: They take a shot at performing a well-known tune to make it their own, just like they did with “Sugar Baby”. It is with the standard tune “Blackberry Bush” that the band truly shows off their roots. While the standard is usually a spotlight tune for the fiddle, The Good Morning Nags have created a version that revolves around the fiddle from Tim Hassler while still incorporating the entire band in on the tune. The ensemble feel of the track creates a completely different take on the tune while still allowing the original tune to shine through.

“Love Like No Other,” an original track on the release, ventures slightly away from the Bluegrass style of the group and takes on the styling of the Country Rock band of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. In fact, the tune recalls the early days of that band when they were creating music with a rather Old Timey feel to it. Specifically, “Love Like No Other” feels as if it would fit right alongside tracks from The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s self-titled debut where several of the tracks were arrangements of older songs. While there is a definite Old Timey feel to “Love Like No Other,” that sound is perfect for lovers of the style.

The Good Morning Nags return to a standard mindset on the next track. “Cripple Creek” finds the band in full Bluegrass mode as they perform the tune. The version of the song that the band chose dates back over one hundred years to 1905. The track features the mandolin of Ben Quinn as the focal point in the song and the band creates a version of the song that lives up to that old standard while adding a nice energetic delivery to the music. “Cripple Creek” as performed by The Good Morning Nags finds the band in fine form as they bring a rather old tune into the modern era.

The Good Morning Nags bring their new self-titled album to a close with a track that could easily be described as the band’s theme song. “Good Morning Girl” finds the band creating a track that takes the genre of Bluegrass and turns it on its head. The resulting track contains the feel of Bluegrass but with a very modern take on it. The music has a bit of an edge to it while the lyrics have a slightly wry feel to them while being upbeat at the same time. The lyrics find the singer (a Good Morning Nag) singing an ode to his girlfriend (a Good Morning Girl). And then, when he has his say, the girl in question sings her response. The duet-style track is basically a love song being sung by two much worn people looking for their perfect matches. While it has a rather modern feel to the lyrics and music, underneath it all, the track has a timeless appeal to it.

The new self-titled release from The Good Morning Nags is a release that has a lot going for it: There are the elements of classic Bluegrass, classic Folk music and fresh arrangements of classic Bluegrass tunes all mixed together. While the album may be a tad unusual for those looking for a straight-out classic Bluegrass release, those with an open mind and an appreciation for Bluegrass music, Folk music and even Country music will much to enjoy on this album.

To check out the music of The Good Morning Nags, check out the band’s tune called “Love Like No Other”.

To purchase a copy of the new self-titled EP from The Good Morning Nags, click HERE.  

For more information, check out the band’s PR firm, WHIPLASH PR.

DearJohn-LPCover copyRobert Ellis and Courtney Hartman are two singer-songwriters that have found a love for Folk music. By themselves, the two musicians have been creating their own styles of the musical genre. Ellis is currently promoting a Self-Titled Album released on Nine West Records that features eleven tracks of music. At the same time, Hartman is promoting her Nothing We Can Say EP that features six tracks of music. These two relative newcomers found themselves meeting backstage while performing at a music festival back in 2013. That meeting led to the two musicians discovering a mutual admiration for the music of John Hartford, the singer-songwriter who was known for his Bluegrass, Country and Folk-flavored songs that were created between the early fifties and 2001 when he passed away. Eventually, the two separate musicians joined up to create a ten-song tribute album that features ten songs from the career of John Hartford. The new album from Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman is entitled Dear John – a Tribute to the Songs of John Hartford.

The new tribute release of John Hartford’s music from Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman features the two musicians as they sing and play their guitars. The simplicity of the guitar/voice combination from the two singers gives the album a gentleness that matches up well with the style of Hartford’s original compositions. With the new recordings of Hartford’s music created by Ellis and Hartman using only guitars, the new versions not only give Hartford’s songs new life, they also make each song feel fresh.

Dear John – a Tribute to the Songs of John Hartford begins with the song “Old Time River Man”. Originally, the song (fully-titled “Where Does an Old Time River Man Go”) was recorded by Hartford as he played the tune on banjo. The new version by Ellis and Hartman was created using guitars. And that guitar approach breathes new life into the track, making the song by the duo feel unique. The song also features both musicians as they sing the lyrics together. The double-layered vocal add yet another element to the track as the voices from the two singers blend well together in the melody of the words.

With the track “Them Way Long Time Ago Times,” the wit of Hartford is brought out well with Ellis and Hartman’s version of the track. The song’s lyrics have a fun, light feel that mixes well with the acoustic guitars on the track. The music has the same light feel that is featured in the vocals from the duo. The track ends up seemingly flying by as the listener allows the track to play out.

The Dear John release continues with the song “Gentle On My Mind”. Perhaps one of the most well-known songs from Hartman, “Gentle On My Mind” became a hit for Glenn Campbell back in 1967 and again in 1968 to ultimately end up being a Top 10 song on the Easy Listening charts. The new version of the song finds Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman creating a version of the song that pays homage to the original Campbell hit. The two voices from Ellis and Hartman blend well together on this track. Having been released as the first single off of Dear John – a Tribute to the Songs of John Hartford, the track “Gentle On My Mind” is easily one of the best songs on the release.

Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman’s new release continues with the song “Right in the Middle of Falling for You”. With this track, the duo makes a choice of slowing the pace of the track down. The slower pace and easier feel of the music adds an even stronger Folk flavor to the track while also increasing the romantic feel to the lyrics of the song. While the previous tracks also feature both Ellis and Hartman singing the lyrics, “Right in the Middle of Falling for You” comes off as a duet. Like the duo’s version of “Gentle on My Mind,” this song ends up being a shining moment on the Dear John – a Tribute to the Songs of John Hartford release.

After four song that featured both of the artists combing their vocals on the lyrics to the songs, Robert Ellis finally takes the lead on vocals for one track. On “Here I Am in Love Again,” the unmistakable feel of Country music comes through in the picking on the guitars on the track. About halfway through the song, the vocals from Courtney Hartman help to add the dual vocal delivery feel that listeners have grown familiar with from the earlier tracks.

The track of “Delta Queen Waltz” shows off the playing abilities of Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman on their guitars. Together, the two instruments intertwine nicely to create the melody of the track while the vocals from both Ellis and Hartman bring the lyrics to life. The easy pace of the track makes for a perfect song to dance to. The track is one of the best for showing off the talents of both of the singer-songwriters. Singer-songwriters Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman have created one of the best tribute albums to be released in a long time.

The ten tracks that make up the Dear John – a Tribute to the Songs of John Hartford release combine to make a great tribute to one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th Century. If you are a fan of John Hartford, or you have become a fan of either Robert Ellis or Courtney Hartman, this release definitely deserves to be included in your music collection.

To hear a sample from the release, check out the song “Gentle On My Mind”.

For more information, check out the PR firm for the album, Grandstand Media & Management.

The Dear John – a Tribute to the Songs of John Hartford album is being released with the help of the Refuge Foundation for the Arts, a non-profit organization which provides sanctuary for the pursuit of creative expression through music and art. To check out the Refuge Foundation for the Arts, click on the link.

Randy SteelePerforming one style of music for many years can make a musician crave something different from time to time; especially if that musician has an inner desire to stretch as an artist. Having spent much time as part of the band Slim Pickens Bluegrass, Randy Steele is one musician who is currently on a mission to create something different from the usual Bluegrass music associated with the band he has been with since 2008. And right now, Randy Steele is getting the chance to do just that as he is currently celebrating the release of a new solo album that features a lot more variety than just Bluegrass.

The resulting collection of new music from Randy Steele is a mix of Americana music that features a variety of sounds. Along with the Bluegrass music that has been a part of Randy Steele’s life for the decade or so, Steele’s solo material incorporates a mix of Country music along with other Roots music influences. Together, these musical influences help to shape the new release from Randy Steele that is entitled Songs from the Suck, a title that refers to Suck Creek, a river near where Steele currently lives.

Songs from the Suck from Randy Steele begins with the track “Northbound 29”. With this track, Randy Steele and his band of musicians create a track that is largely based in the Bluegrass genre. Like much Bluegrass music, the sound of the track features the banjo and the fiddle as the main instruments that help to bring the song to life. The track Of “Northbound 29” comes across as just as authentic as much older songs that have been created by bands like Slim Pickens Bluegrass for decades.

The album continues with the song “Angels with Halos”. Along with the musicians that help to back him up, Randy Steele creates a track that is a lot closer to Country music than Bluegrass. The track contains a much fuller sound as the music contains not only the guitar and fiddle, but also steel guitar and snare drum, creating a track that would be right at home on Country radio formats that feature a mix that incorporates the older styles of Country music. “Angels with Halos” is the perfect track for those listeners who are looking for the sounds of Country music’s past.

With the next song, Randy Steele creates an instrumental track entitled “Shove the Pig’s Foot a Little Closer to the Fire”. The feeling of a Bluegrass reel on the track creates a song that, once again, makes good use of Steele’s Bluegrass background.

Randy Steele continues his album with the track “Mobile Soon”. With this track, Steele returns to a Country state of mind in the music as he plays a slow-paced song that feels very much like an ode to the city. The use of guitar and fiddle make a solid yet simple combination in the music to create a track that feels timeless in nature. Whether today or twenty years ago, “Mobile Soon” could find a large audience on Country music radio stations. “Mobile Soon” is easily one of the tracks on Steele’s Songs from the Suck that stands out for all the right reasons.

One of the tracks on Songs from the Suck that stands out because of the more progressive feel of the music is “Hard Givin’”. Randy Steele and the rest of the band seem to seamlessly combine the Country and Bluegrass genres to create a hybrid sound in the song’s music. The track feels as if it has brought the Bluegrass genre into a more modern age. “Hard Givin’” is yet another track on the release that listeners will gravitate towards.

Taking the music back to an earlier time, Randy Steele and company create the track “1983,” a song that feels as if it had been influenced by the likes of Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt of Foggy Mountain Boys fame. The track features the banjo and fiddle as the track brings to mind the earlier days of recorded music. The track of “1983” even feels more authentic as the entire track falls under the two-minute play-time, which would have been perfect for a 78 RPM gramophone record.

The final track of “…To the New Perspective” features a simple banjo and vocal arrangement. The track of the release brings to mind the music of someone like Earl Scruggs as the track’s simplistic approach has a definite Old Timey feel to it. That retro feel to the music seems to have been the perfect way to bring the Songs from the Suck to a close as it recalls the early recordings of Bluegrass music.

There is much to love about the Songs from the Suck release from Randy Steele. Whether it is the classic Bluegrass approach or the more modern musical style, the album features songs that will fit nicely within any Country or Bluegrass lover’s music collection.

To check out the music of Randy Steele, listen to the song “Hard Givin’“.

For more information, check out Randy Steele’s PR firm Whiplash PR.

ormewoods_bedsessions_cover_web_phixrClaire Pearson and Don McCollister are two singer-songwriters who have the history behind them that proves they know how to create hit songs. In their own ways, Pearson and McCollister have had their hands in making other people sound great in the studio. Don McCollister has helped people like Sister Hazel and Shawn Mullins and more while Claire Pearson has worked as a songwriter in Nashville while also collaborating alongside Nashville recording artist Heidi Higgins as The Daffodils. Joining forces as songwriters (as well as husband and wife), Pearson and McCollister started writing music together. Their newly-formed collaboration is called The Ormewoods. Recently, The Ormewoods celebrated the release of their new album called The Bedroom Sessions, an album that was literally created inside the couple’s own bedroom.

The new release from The Ormewoods begins with the track “Sidelines”. The track features a strong folk-rock feel with a very strong emphasis on the “folk” side of the sound. It is the mandolin on the track that stands out as the dominant instrument and that mandolin helps to push the pace of the song. The resulting song sounds like a combination of folk and bluegrass. The vocals from both Claire Pearson and Don McCollister added to that folk/bluegrass sound help to create a track that feels very “classic” in its origins. Pearson and McCollister’s vocals help to create a solid duet type of song. “Sidelines” sounds as if the song would have been created back around the turn of the 20th Century. That type of retro feel to the music prepares the listener for other songs that also make use of older musical influences.

The Bedroom Sessions from The Ormewoods continues with the track “I Do”. While the previous track takes the listener back in time for a retro sound, “I Do” is a track that would easily fit onto any modern-day Country format. The track contains a light pace to the music with just a little production value that helps to add a lot of texture to the song. The song features Claire Pearson as her vocals come more to the forefront with Don McCollister adding background vocals to the song. Unlike “Sidelines” before it that would not fit today’s Country formats, “I Do” would easily fit onto today’s Country radio stations. For the next track of “Back to You,” The Ormewoods take their music into a more pop-like direction. The track takes on a more acoustic folk-rock sound and leaves behind the more Country-like influences. The resulting song has a very commercial sound that could appeal to many different groups of music lovers. Making full use of Don McCollister’s writing abilities and Claire Pearson’s vocal delivery, “Back to You” sounds ready-made to be a full-blown radio crossover.

“Hey Babe” finds the duo of stripping down their sound to just an acoustic guitar and some light percussion. The resulting music sounds like something that would have come from a band like Jefferson Airplane, and with the vocals from both Pearson and McCollister, that comparison gets even stronger. “Hey Babe” has a style that is so timeless that it sounds very familiar.

“Delaware Ave.” is another track that features a light, acoustic feel to the music. The inclusion of cellos within the folk music makes the track sound as if it could have been written and produced by the likes of Simon and Garfunkle. The track even has lyrics that are reminiscent to Art Garfunkle’s writing style.

Adding a little more of a modern sound to the track “Sleep Like Strangers,” Pearson and McCollister create a song that brings to mind the harder side of Sarah McLachlan. The acoustic rock featured on “Sleep Like Strangers” ends up making the track with perhaps the most energy of all of the tracks on the Bedroom Sessions release.

One of the standout tracks on the release is “Year of Mercy”. The track consists of a driving guitar part that goes along with lyrics of needing a break from all of the bad things that have happened. With the track “Year of Mercy,” The Ormewoods prove that they have the talent as songwriters. The track has already earned the duo awards for runner up for Best Folk Song 2016 by Song of the Year Songwriting Competition and nominated as Best Folk Song of 2016 by the American Songwriting Awards. “Year of Mercy” is one of the best tracks on the album.

Coming from two songwriters that have created hit after hit for other artists, The Bedroom Sessions from The Ormewoods is jam-packed with tracks that are very commercial in their sound. From the first track to the last song, the release sounds like a greatest hits collection. For a first release, this album has everything you want in an album and so much more.

The Bedroom Sessions from The Ormewoods will be released in September 2016. Until then, to hear some of the music from The Ormewoods, go to the duo’s ReverbNation profile.

Edit: The Ormewoods have released a video to the track “Hey Babe“. Click HERE to watch it.

long-road-aheadSinger-songwriter Thor Platter is currently making a name for himself. Having been named to many different lists in various publications in and around the Cleveland area, many people are becoming aware of the Cleveland-based singer-songwriter. But just like singer-songwriter Mike Farley before him who moved to Cleveland from Long Island, Platter didn’t start out as a Clevelander; Platter moved here from Buffalo, New York. Since moving here, Thor Platter began creating music. Aside from making his own music, Platter had also been part of a band called The Whiskey Lock, a Bluegrass/Americana band that also included Josh Haney and Tricia Zook. But since that time, Platter is now more focused on making his own music. Currently, Platter has released one album of music called Looking for Sunshine. Having already released that one album, Thor Platter is about to add to his musical library with a new five-song release called Long Road Ahead.

To bring this new album to life, Platter called upon some of Cleveland’s most talented Country/Folk musicians. The musical line-up for this release consists of: Thor Platter – Acoustic guitar & Vocals; Matt Charboneau – Upright Bass; Tommy Hannum – Dobro on “Ride” & “Long Road Ahead”; Paul Kovac – Banjo, Mandolin on “Long Road Ahead” and Bill Lestock – Mandolin & Fiddle. Together, the players create a very strong musical ensemble that handles the music flawlessly.

Long Road Ahead from Thor Platter is a mixed bag of music as it contains both original tunes and tracks written or co-written by friends of his. The release begins with the track “Lake Erie Shore,” a track penned by Platter’s former Whiskey Lock bandmate Tricia Zook. “Lake Erie Shore” features lyrics written by Zook after she left the Cleveland area for a job that took her to North Carolina. The track features the talents of Platter on guitar and vocals, Matt Charboneau on Upright Bass, Paul Kovac on Banjo and Bill Lestock and mandolin. The heartbreaking lyrics about being away from one’s love feel very appropriate for Bluegrass music and the performance of the song by Thor Platter and the rest of the musicians on the track create one of the best modern Bluegrass tracks.

The new release from Thor Platter continues with the track “Josh’s Manifesto,” a track co-written by Thor Platter and Josh Stevens. Like the first track of “Lake Erie Shore,” “Josh’s Manifesto” features lyrics about love but from the other direction as the singer sings of being free of the spell of his “ex”. The lyrics of the song deal with the touchy subject of separation with as much humor as one can. The track has already become a staple of Thor Platter’s live set.

With the next track of “Ride,” Thor Platter and the rest of the band create possibly the most creative song on the relatively short release. While much of the new release find the musicians creating songs that fit into the Bluegrass genre, “Ride” also includes some musical elements that make the listener classify the song as more like “Americana” than straight Bluegrass. Along with the interesting playing from the band that set the track apart from the rest of the EP, the production value on the track adds a lot of character to the track. The track makes the listener feel as if they are part of some sort of film noir movie set to music. “Ride” ends up taking the music of Platter in a much “darker” (and much more interesting) direction. One of the older songs to be included on the release, “Ride” ends up being one of the strongest moments on the new EP.

After one track that breaks the mold for straight-forward Bluegrass music, Platter and the musicians return to a more straight-forward Bluegrass style. In fact, the resulting track brings a lot of “Old Timey” feel to the music. The banjo, acoustic guitar and fiddle all bring the listener back to the early days of the 20th Century. For those who are fans of Bluegrass music, this is easily the track to hear.

Long Road Ahead from Thor Platter comes to a close with the title track of the release. Like “Ride” before it, “Long Road Ahead” finds the band creating a track that feels very fresh. Along with the omnipresent Bluegrass sound, the track also features a little folk thrown in. The combination in the music works as the song feels as if it could fit onto several different radio formats. While the EP is not very long, Long Road Ahead from Thor Platter is a strong EP. The five tracks included are different enough from one track to the next that the playing time seems too short. For a musician who has previously released only one album, Platter has created a very solid EP in Long Road Ahead.

To hear just a little of Thor Platter’s music, check out the song “Ride” off of the new release of Long Road Ahead.

The Culver City-based band The Alpine Camp came together as an experiment to see if a band could be created using only roots instruments, instruments that include banjos, steel guitars and others that are more often used to create Country or Bluegrass music. Once band founders and main songwriters Chris Bell and Charles Etienne settled on their style, others were brought in to fill out the band’s sound. Along with Bell on guitar and vocals and Etienne on piano and vocals, the rest of the band consists of bassist Jeff Stella, drummer Shad Wilhelm, Bob Hamilton on banjo and Jamison Hollister on pedal steel. Together, The Alpine Camp creates a sound that brings to mind artists like Mumford and Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, even The Grateful Dead. This musical blend of Americana can be found on The Alpine Camp’s newly-released two-song EP called Adventure.

The first track on the two-song release from The Alpine Camp is the song entitled “Regrets of a Mountaineer”. The track leads off the two tracks with a sound that features a quick-tempo feel to the music. On this track, the band takes a strong beat and combines it with a country-flavored sound. The combination brings to mind a style that will remind some of something from The Doobie Brothers but with a lot more twang to it. The track is one of the rare instances where a song features the entire ensemble as each of the musicians adds an equal amount of influence to the music. As strong as the main part of the song is, once the band hits the refrain of the song, the track picks up a lot of energy. The resulting feel of the music during the refrain of the song will make the listener pay close attention. The track is definitely a song that could get the band a lot of exposure.

The second track to be included on the Adventure EP from The Alpine Camp is “Seven Miles”. Where the song “Regrets of a Mountaineer” finds the band creating a fast-paced track with a lot of energy, the band slows things down quite a bit with the song “Seven Miles”.  The country/rock feel of the piece brings to mind the playing and writing style of a certain Rock And Roll Hall of Famer. As The Alpine Camp and their music would fall into the same musical category of singer-songwriter Leon Russell, it should not come as much of a surprise that the track of “Seven Miles” appears to contain more than just a little influence from Russell in the songwriting and the instrumentation on the track. Aside from the writing of the track itself, the biggest indications of the Russell influence is in the use of banjo on the track, as well as the way the guitar sounds within the track.

The Adventure EP, the newest release to come from The Alpine Camp, ends up being a quick two-song release that will give the listener the opportunity to hear two different styles of writing from the band in a very short amount of time. And while the two tracks that appear on the release have very different styles and sounds to the music, it is the quality of the music produced by the band on those two tracks still indicates the talent of all involved. If you are a fan of bands like Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford and Sons, even Leon Russell, The Alpine Camp is one band that should be added to your musical library. And good place to start is with their EP called Adventure.

Reviewer: Matheson Kamin

Rating: ***** (five stars)

Kally O’Mally is a California-based singer-songwriter who creates a style of music that is most easily categorized as Americana as she incorporates many different styles into her music. While she would probably be called “Pop,” she also has a generous amount of Country influence in her style as well. Having already created one release titled Easy Money, O’Mally has returned with yet another album entitled The Wild West Medicine Show.

The Wild West Medicine Show from Kally O’Mally begins with the track called “Fly”. The track is a moderately-paced song with a Pop-rock flavor that also contains just a touch of Country sound to it. While the song contains lyrics that bring to mind a slightly old-fashioned Country track, the song features plenty of pop-rock feel and the addition of the banjo on the track adds that Country flavor to the track. The Country/Pop-rock combination in the music creates a track that would fit as much on today’s Country formats as it would fit on any current Top 40 format; thus, creating the perfect crossover song for almost any format on today’s radio dial.

O’Mally’s most recent release continues with the song “Sweet Delta Breeze”. While the track still contains the same easy feel from the previous track, O’Mally eliminates the Country influence on this track while increasing the Pop-rock influence. The song allows the guitars to create an easy Rock feel that may fit with songs from back in the seventies. And while the track does feel slightly retro in its sound, it would be right at home on today’s radio as well.

The title track on The Wild West Medicine Show finds Kally O’Mally creating a track that is equal parts Folk-rock and Country. The combination of all of the genres creates music that seems very appropriate for the subject matter of the travelling medicine show. The Country setting almost makes you imagine being part of the crowd that is being drawn in by the not-so-honest band of misfits that make up the medicine show.

For the track “Kisses,” the feel of the music changes from everything that came before it. The song brings to mind songs from the early days of Rock and Roll. In fact, the listener can almost hear the influence of the Everly Brothers in the music and the melody of the lyrics sung by O’Mally. The music of the track brings out the Americana sound of Kally O’Mally on this track.

Kally O’Mally once again changes musical directions on the song “Miss Understood”. While the tracks that came before “Miss Understood” contain combinations of music styles, O’Mally decided to compose this track using one musical approach. “Miss Understood” feels much like a Country song that would have been played back in the seventies. The Lyrics even bring to mind that era of Country music. Had it been written back a few decades, “Miss Understood” feels like something that Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton might have sung. The track feels like it should be included on playlists on radio formats that focus on Classic Country.

With the track “2 Days Gone,” Kally O’Mally adds a little more Blues feel to her new release. The track about being down on your luck has a feel that many can get behind as we can all relate to having experienced something that makes us depressed. The Blues feel of the music on the track sets the song apart from most of the album.

With the track of “I’m Gonna Run,” Kally O’Mally makes a statement about abuse. While the song makes a very serious point about a very serious subject matter, the four minutes of the song is well-played while also being entertaining. O’Mally wrote the song to help get some information out there for those who are actually going through an abusive situation.

The Wild West Medicine Show from Kally O’Mally comes to a close with the track “Bourbon On My Deathbed”. The bluegrass-inspired track brings back the simpler feel of Omally’s music. That simpler feel makes for a great way to bring her newest release to a close.

The newest release from Kally O’Mally brings out the Country flavor within the Americana genre that O’Mally calls home. The music on The Wild West Medicine Show changes directions from one track to another and Kally O’Mally is able to keep the music interesting from track-to-track. If you are a fan of Americana music, The Wild West Medicine Show from Kally O’Mally is a strong new release.

Antigone Rising is a Country Rock band from New York. Having been founded by sisters Cathy Henderson and Kristen Ellis-Henderson, the band has had their share of time in the spotlight for their music and other causes that are close to their hearts. The band is known mainly for their 2005 release From the Ground Up. Having had other members come and go through the band, Antigone Rising now consists of: Nini Camps – lead vocals, rhythm guitar; Kristen Ellis-Henderson – bass guitar, vocals; Cathy Henderson – lead guitar, vocals and Dena Tauriello-drums. With an ever-increasing library of musical releases, the band is currently promoting their newest release; a five-song EP entitled Whiskey and Wine Vol. II.

Whiskey and Wine Vol. II from Antigone Rising begins with the hard-rocking track called “Game Changer”. The track begins with a beat that will instantly draw you into the band’s music. The call-and-respond vocals from Nini Camps and the rest of the band at the beginning of the track will remind the listener of something from the Girl Groups like The Supremes or The Ronettes before Antigone Rising takes the track in a more rock and roll-inspired direction that makes the song feel like a true anthem for today’s people who want something more in the world.

The newest release from Antigone Rising continues with the track “I See You”. The track features a folk-rock feel as the band takes their music in a slightly more gentle direction. While “Game Changer’s” energy draws the listener in, “I See You” has its own brand of beauty in both the romantic lyrics and the easy feel of the music. Like “Game Changer” before it, “I See You” feels like it could easily become a single off of the release.

With the track “Weed & Wine,” the quartet brings the energy of the music up as they incorporate a little Rock and Roll into their style. The inclusion of the banjo on the track and the twang in the electric guitar makes the song feel as much like Country music as much as Rock and Roll. The track finds the singer invited her special someone to a special night. The track’s lighthearted lyrics and the fun musical approach on the track keeps the energy level up and makes “Weed & Wine” a song to listen to if you’re in the mood to have fun.

Perhaps the most listener-friendly track on Whiskey and Wine Vol. II from Antigone Rising is the song “My Town”. Right from the very beginning of the song, the band creates a track that pulls upon the emotional feeling of the listener as the lyrics of the song bring to mind everything that makes your hometown so special. The Country feeling blended with the light Rock feeling in the music makes the track perfect for a crossover hit as fan of both genres of music will be drawn to the track. The inclusion of the strings helps to add a lot of emotional feeling to both the lyrics and music of the song. “My Town” is easily the most additive of the songs on the newest release from Antigone Rising.

The newest release from Antigone Rising comes to an end with the track “The Last Time”. The song features one of the strongest energy levels of the songs on Whiskey and Wine Vol. II. Like the track “Game Changer” that began the release, “The Last Time” features lyrics that seem to make a statement. And since “Game Changer” started the album off with a bang, “The Last Time” seems to be the perfect track to bring to an end as it features the same type of energy in the music.

Having already released Whiskey and Wine Vol. I in 2014, Antigone Rising released Whiskey and Wine Vol. II in 2015 to finish the concept. The 2015 five-song EP contains plenty of highs within the limited amount of tracks. Flowing from Country to Folk to Rock and Roll, the five songs in the EP contain plenty of variety and that variety makes the release a jot to listen to from start to finish.

Click HERE to check out the video to the Antigone Rising’s song “Game Changer”.

Click HERE to check out the entire Whiskey and Wine Vol. II release.

Click HERE to check out Antigone Rising’s PR firm Cyber PR.