Friday, June 26, 2015

TONIGHT: #BhamJun26 6pm @GirlsRockBham: Locals Unite for Silent Art Auction at @RevelatorCoffee

Birmingham is truly a Magic City. You can feel it all around. There's something about this town, maybe despite its darker history, that brings people together from all walks of life uniting for the common good – to revitalize our city.

This is especially evident with the small but mighty nonprofit organization Girls Rock Bham. The Director, Lindsey Shante, and Treasurer/Secretary, Shelly Ann Edge, have rallied a passionate group of volunteers to help organize the first Summer Rock Camp for girls ages 9 to 16, which will be held at the Avondale venue Saturn the last week in July.

Girls Rock Bham will host its second benefit, a silent art auction at Revelator Coffee Company downtown, on Friday, June 26, to raise money for this year's camp. Tickets are $10 at the door, and proceeds will pay for instruments, lessons and other materials for participants.

Revelator Coffee has graciously offered to host this event at no cost to the organization and will be selling their delectable coffee and tea during the fundraiser.

Local talented female artists are donating their artwork, and the silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. Artists include Catherine Beaton, Elizabeth Burnett, Anne Conway, Mary Catherine Fehr, Hillary Floyd, Tamara Harper, Merritt Milam, Lindsay Mouyal, Jennifer Oxford, Sarah Randolph, September Reed, Kassie Smith, Leah Thornton, and more to be announced.

Birmingham lady musicians and DJs Jennifer Freehling, Beth Ragland Stewart, Andrea Paschal, and Jackie Lo will be spinning records during the event playing music by female musicians. If you can't tell, this organization is all about empowering women in all facets of creativity!

The cover also gets you a raffle ticket towards a rocking piece of art and two VIP tickets to Secret Stages. Crestwood Coffee Company and Cafe is donating food for the event also covered in the ticket cost - another great example of the people of Birmingham uniting for this great cause.

You must be present to win the raffle (drawings at 7 and 8 p.m.) but do not have to be present to win the silent art auction bids. The winners of the auction will be announced at 8 p.m.

All ages welcome – this is a family friendly event.

Cost: $10 which gets you a raffle ticket towards prizes and food; additional raffle tickets may be purchased for $5 each; 100% of proceeds go to Girls Rock Bham to cover costs of their first Summer Rock Camp for girls.

Monday, June 22, 2015

PREVIEW: Sol Cat @solcatmusic Thu #BhamJul16 w/ @Lonely_Biscuits at @SaturnBham

Sol Cat just released their new EP Uno on May 26.

No strangers to the road, Sol Cat has toured nationally and played alongside the likes of Beach Fossils, Diarrhea Planet, The Weeks, COIN, Moon Taxi, Wild Cub, Soil & the Sun and more. 

Made up of Brett Hammann (vocals), Johny Fisher (rhythm guitar/keys/vocals), Jaan Cohan (lead guitar), Jeremy Clark (keys/synths/vocals), and Tom Myers (drums), Sol Cat combines elastic guitars 'n' grooves with synths and croons. The band creates music that gets you dancing, music that gets you thinking, and music that's informed as much by what's happening now as what happened decades ago.

This year's tour includes Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and Austin City Limits Music Festival. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

PREVIEW: @MissShevaughn & @YumaWray Thur #BhamJul16 @BhamMoonlight on the Mountain

Thursday July 16th, 2015: Cosmic Indie Rockers, Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray play Moonlight on the Mountain as part of their National Roots Tour, a series of intimate duo shows featuring harmonies, guitars, organ, piano, banjo, mandolin and more.

Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray are touring in support of their latest album, Lean Into the WindListen Here which ended up on several best of 2014 lists, including NPR’s Sound Opinions “Buried Treasures” show and end of the year mix tape. 

Melodic and dynamic, deeply personal and political, Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray’s music is tough, emotionally resonant and intellectually challenging. The band successfully melds roots, psych, folk, country and garage rock in the Laurel Canyon tradition with social commentary and 90’s indie sensibility.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

@BanditosBand: “THE BREEZE" MUSIC VIDEO @RollingStone PREMIERE

"Equal parts alt-country twang and garage rock bang, the album wears its influences proudly, recalling everything from ZZ Top’s greasy boogie to the Alabama Shakes’ coed soul.” - Rolling Stone

Hot on the heels of the release of their self-titled debut album, Banditos’ “The Breeze” music video just premiered via Rolling Stone/Rolling Stone Country! The video kicks off summer in the most righteous way, with boat parties, road trips, skateboards, beaches, and a whole lotta guitar tone. Banditos singer/guitarist Corey Parsons describes the making of the video (including how the riverside boat party came together) to Rolling Stone’s Andrew Leahey in the piece.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

PREVIEW: Chris Knight performing @WorkPlayBham Theatre #BhamJul8 8pm

Chris Knight doesn’t like to say much. Won’t chat about his worldview or engage in conversations on his creative approach. For 15 years, 7 acclaimed albums and a hard-nosed career that’s been hailed as “where Cormac McCarthy meets Copperhead Road”, Knight has always let his music do most of the talking. And on record – as well everywhere across America, from roadhouse taverns to major-city concert halls – his songs have had plenty to say. But with his latest album Little Victories (September 2012), Chris Knight has taken the discussion to a whole new level.

His first album of new material since 2008, Little Victories is a record of blunt honesty, elegiac truths and the raw rural poetry of an artist who’s come into his own and intends to stay. And for a performer who’s been compared over the years to Cash, Prine, Earle and Nebraska-era Springsteen, Knight now stands alone as a singer/songwriter that has carved his own idiosyncratic sound and sensibility out of the dirt road American dream. Little Victories not only sounds like a Chris Knight album, but the best Chris Knight album yet.

“I don’t ever get in a big rush about things,” Knight says. “I can tour pretty good on what I got. I took my time, like I always do. Write a song every now and then. I don’t like to talk about politics, but I do write what I’m thinking about.” And if many of the songs on Little Victories seem to take a hard-eyed look at the current socio-economic climate, Knight – the former strip-mine inspector who still lives in the backcountry coal town of Slaughters, Kentucky (population 200) where he was raised – is upfront about their origins. “About 2 years ago, we had a big ice storm here in Slaughters that just devastated the whole area,” he says. “We were out of power for close to a month, cooking in the fireplace and living by candlelight to survive. Things slowed down to nothing. When we were finally able to head into town, we saw lines of cars for miles outside the gas station. There were hundreds of people outside the hardware store who had nothing even before the storm hit. They weren’t prepared for the situation or for each other. I watched their behavior and reactions, and that’s when I started writing a bunch of songs I knew would be a part of this record.”

Little Victories also marks a reunion with producer Ray Kennedy, who’d engineered and mastered Knight’s seminal Enough Rope and two Trailer Tapes albums and is well known for his work with Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, John Mellencamp and Lucinda Williams. “Chris wanted to make this record with his road band,” explains Kennedy. “And as we were tracking in the studio, the sounds I was sending back through the headphones were pretty tough and edgy. It made everybody crank their amps up higher and dig a little deeper. The sound of any record is about attitude and how it goes down, and much of this record went down like a rock record. Other than a few overdubs, it’s pretty much recorded 100% live.” This organic approach gives the album an acoustic/electric texture that is both urgently gritty and fiercely expressive, with Knight’s twang-rich vocals to match. “Chris digs deepest of all on this record,” Kennedy says. “It’s the content of his voice as well as the character of the songs. And when you listen to this record a few times, you realize there’s a really unique social commentary woven in. I think he’s one of our greatest songwriters, period.”

The album’s 11 songs purely rank among Knight’s finest. There’s busted luck in “Lowdown Ramblin’ Blues”, hardcore tenacity in “Nothing On Me” and badtempered love in “You Lie When You Call My Name” (co-written with two-time Grammy winner Lee Ann Womack). Buddy Miller provides guest vocals on the ominous commentary of “In The Mean Time” and the ornery regret of “Missing You”. “Jack Loved Jesse” is a raging tale of criminal destiny co-written and featuring blistering electric guitar and vocals by former Georgia Satellite and frequent Knight producer Dan Baird. “You Can’t Trust No One” emerges as an unsettling paean to small-town American cynicism and anger, and “The Lonesome Way” is a gut-punch of slide-guitar, violin (courtesy Tammy Rogers of The Steeldrivers, who appears throughout the album) and bullheaded regret. The humble acoustic remorse of “Out Of This Hole” is Knight at his most plaintive, and the crushed dreams of “Hard Edges” carry a banjo-tinged melancholy. And if the title track not only finds Knight at his most cheerily optimistic (for Chris, at least), it also features vocals from his lifelong musical hero John Prine. “When I was 16, I got a John Prine songbook and learned about 40 of his songs,” Knight explains. “Used to play them for the kids in study hall at school every day. About 20 years later, I finally got to meet him when I opened a few shows for him. He asked me to come out and sing “Paradise” as part of his encore, and I got to play the blonde Martin guitar that was on the cover of his first album. I sent him “Little Victories” and he liked the song enough to be on it.” Chris treasures the moment when the two first listened to the playback of their distinctive twangs rasping joyfully together on the chorus. “‘Prine turned to me and said, ‘We sound pretty good together. Just like Phil and Don Everly.’”

So after 15 years, 8 albums and a still uncompromised reputation as one of the best singer/songwriters in America, what has Chris Knight learned from it all? “I’ve learned that I’m pretty lucky to do what I do and make a living at it,” he says. “I’m really proud of this record, and it’ll be fun to play these songs live. For people who like my music and maybe even for someone hearing me for the first time, I think they’ll find songs on here that mean something to them and they can hang on to. I don’t want to talk about it too much, but I think people are gonna be surprised.” And for Chris Knight, that’s victory enough.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Release: Hot Music, Ragmentation, and the Bluing of American Literature

Exploring the deep and enduring relationship between music and literature, Hot Music, Ragmentation, and the Bluing of American Literature examines the diverse ways in which African American "hot" music influenced American culture--particularly literature--in early twentieth-century America. Steven C. Tracy provides a history of the fusion of African and European elements that formed African American "hot" music, and considers how terms like ragtime, jazz, and blues developed their own particular meanings for American music and society. He draws from the fields of literature, literary criticism, cultural anthropology, American studies, and folklore to demonstrate how blues as a musical and poetic form has been a critical influence on American literature.

Hot Music, Ragmentation, and the Bluing of American Literature begins by highlighting instances in which American writers, including Herman Melville, Stephen Crane, and Gertrude Stein use African American culture and music in their work, and then characterizes the social context of the Jazz Age, discussing how African American music reflected the wild abandon of the time. Tracy focuses on how a variety of schools of early twentieth-century writers, from modernists to members of the Harlem Renaissance to dramatists and more, used their connections with "hot" music to give their own work meaning.

Tracy's extensive and detailed understanding of how African American "hot" music operates has produced a fresh and original perspective on its influence on mainstream American literature and culture. An experienced blues musician himself, Tracy draws on his performance background to offer an added dimension to his analysis. Where another blues scholar might only analyze blues language, Tracy shows how the language is actually performed.

Hot Music, Ragmentation, and the Bluing of American Literature offers a refreshingly broad interdisciplinary vision of the influence of African American "hot" music on American literature. It is an essential addition to the library of serious scholars of American and African American literature and culture and blues aficionados alike.

Steven C. Tracy is a professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He served as Fulbright Senior Specialist at the University of Konstanz in Germany and also as Chutian Scholar at Central China Normal University. He has authored, edited, coedited, or introduced nearly thirty books. A singer-harmonica player, he has opened for B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and others.



"Steven Tracy's magisterial study fills one of the gaping holes in our historic understanding of American expressive culture. As no one else before him has done, Tracy explores in detail the role of the art form known as the blues, which is rooted in the southern black experience, in shaping not simply our national popular music but also our most acclaimed and even revered literature. Tracy brings to this achievement both his unusual gifts as a practicing bluesman and also his finely honed skills as an academic, one able to meet complex challenges in research and interpretation and write about them with clarity and grace. This is an extraordinary, indispensable book from a remarkable American scholar."
--Arnold Rampersad, author of Ralph Ellison: A Biography and The Life of Langston Hughes

" Hot Music, Ragmentation, and the Bluing of American Literature is a monumental contribution to our understanding of the deep, enduring influence of blues on American literature. Steven Tracy ranges across the fields of literature, literary criticism, cultural anthropology, American studies, and folklore, and he offers the reader a refreshingly broad, interdisciplinary vision of blues and American literature."
--William Ferris, author of The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists and Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues

"Steven Tracy's book is a highly original study which applies strikingly new ideas and approaches to an important aspect of modern American culture which has never been adequately examined and appreciated. Tracy's unique credentials as an accomplished blues performer and a distinguished literary scholar enable him to explore 'the emergence of the blues in mainstream culture' in ways that are both comprehensive and penetrating. This book will make a major contribution to our understanding of the diverse ways in which African American music has broadly influenced American life and literature."
--Bob Butler, author of The Open Journey in African American Literature and Native Son: The Emergence of a New Black Hero

Available through U of A Press  Click here for link

Trade Cloth 6 X 9, 560 pp ISBN: 978-0-8173-1865-9 Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8173-8813-3 Ebook Price: $64.95