“If my Southern heart’s still pumping blood/I’ll bury my money in the mighty Mississippi mud,” sings The Weeks’ Cyle Barnes on Dear Bo Jackson’s “Brother In The Night.” “If my Southern lungs won’t let me breathe/I’ll wait for the cicadas and I’ll let ‘em push it out for me.”
With that powerful verse, The Weeks staked a claim as heirs to the timeless tradition of Southern rock. In 2013, the band released their label debut album, Dear Bo Jackson, on Serpents and Snakes Records, spent the year on their “Thick As Thieves Tour” and were included in Rolling Stone magazine’s “Hottest Live Photos of 2013” feature after a raucous set at NYC’s Mercury Lounge. During the summer, the band hopped over the pond for a UK/European Arena tour with Kings of Leon and then they came home to play at the Voodoo and Austin City Limits festivals.
Since then, the band headlined the Communion Tour, which was handpicked by Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett, played direct support to Jake Bugg at The Ryman, sold out the Mercy Lounge in Nashville twice, and have barely left the road with no plans to do so soon. Headed now into the festival circuit, they have already confirmed Shaky Knees, Mountain Jam, Wakarusa, Firefly, Spring Jam and Middle of the Map.
The Weeks are about to release an EP to celebrate the 7th anniversary of the band (formed when they were 15). The highlight of this EP will be a re-recording of the first song they ever wrote, “Buttons.” To this day, it is a fan favorite and their most-requested song. It was never properly captured on tape til now. The follow up to Dear Bo Jackson will be recorded over this spring and summer.
Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, The Weeks (Cyle Barnes – vocals; Sam Williams – guitar; Damien Bone – bass; Cain Barnes – drums; Alex Admiral Collier – keyboards) came together in 2006 and instantly came to define the sound of Southern Rock in the 21st Century – their grunge- powered, high-octane anthems rich with a bottomless Delta soul far deeper than the boys’ teenage years would suggest. Like any great rock ‘n’ roll outfit worth its salt, The Weeks played as often as humanly possible, with countless club dates across the Southeast and tours alongside such like-minded acts as Local H, North Mississippi Allstars, and the one and only Meat Puppets. Their extraordinary energy and outsized performances – not to mention a series of well-received independently issued releases – earned them a fervent fan following and ultimately, a deal with the like-minded Serpents and Snakes Records, who reissued the band’s second full-length outing, Gutter Gaunt Gangster.
By summer 2010, it had become clear that sleepy Jackson could no longer contain the mighty Weeks. The band left their old Mississippi home for the bright lights of Nashville, and, as Williams says, “it’s been non-stop ever since.”
Where GGG – like all The Weeks’ previous recordings – was recorded fast and on the cheap, the band opted to take a more leisurely tack in making Dear Bo Jackson. They spent six months at pre- production, resulting the most fully articulated demos of their career. When time came to record the album proper, their search for a producer led them to Paul Moak, a Grammy Award- nominated producer/engineer/mixer and perhaps most importantly, a fellow Jacksonian.
The Weeks set to work at Moak’s Music City studio, The Smoakstack, determined to push themselves further than ever before. Drawing inspiration from such iconic works of Americana as The Band’s Music From Big Pink, the band’s first goal was to incorporate new musical elements into their own inimitable take on Americana.
Much of Dear Bo Jackson’s all-inclusive sound can be credited to The Weeks’ very own Garth Hudson, Collier, whose compositional background and proficiency on an array of instruments enabled the band to build their inventive arrangements from within. Adding color to such standouts as “King Sized Death Bed” and “Gobi Blues” are legendary pedal steel guitarist Bucky Baxter – “the most unbelievable musician I’ve ever seen in person,” says Williams – as well as their buddy Carl Gatti on trombone and faux French Horn. What’s more, friends from throughout the new Nashville rock scene – including Jonny “Corndawg” Fritz – dropped into The Smoakstack to lend backing vocals and a collective stamp to the proceedings.
With Dear Bo Jackson, The Weeks enriched their already well-seasoned sonic stew with the classic flavors of soul, R&B, funk, and heavy boogie to fashion a forward-facing sound all their own. Big brass, lush strings, and twangy pedal steel fused into their distinctive sludge pop, with Williams’ greasy guitars and the highly charged engine room of Bone and Cain as well as the ever- distinctive Collier. Throughout the album, Cyle rends his throat raw as he testifies dramatic and truthful tales of modern Southern lives, always full of hope despite often punishing circumstances.
The press on the record was filled with deserving accolades. Rolling Stone said, “The Weeks’ nervy, careening jangle and scraggily, Southern-stoner look immediately bring to mind Youth and Young Manhood-era Kings of Leon comparisons,” while the Associated Press hailed, “Here’s more proof Nashville, TN, is saving rock ‘n’ roll one band at a time.” Relix claimed, “The Weeks’ breakout album, Dear Bo Jackson, is a big-hearted rock stew – a delicious blend of Southern rock riffs, soulful horns and punk attitude,” and American Songwriter said, “The Weeks groove and grunt their way through this tribute to Mississippi, the band’s home state.” Blurt exclaimed, “Dear Bo Jackson is a remarkable collection of blazing southern rock, soul, funk, alt country and just about anything else that is still good about music today,” while Paste said, “The band’s sound blends classic Southern rock influences with a grungy yet soulful twist to give the band a sound all their own.”
As The Weeks barrel into the future without a net or a rulebook, they are not looking backwards for a second as they continue to explore their Mississippi roots and current place in the world, with all the profound joy and unfathomable sadness that entails.
Jacksonville, Florida singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist rickoLus (Richard Colado of The Little Books, HurricaneParty & Radical Face)
with Charlotte’s own Swansgate
and special guests to be announced soon
8:00 PM DOORS / 9:00 PM SHOW / AGES 18 & UP WELCOME / NO ONE ADMITTED WITHOUT VALID PHOTO IDENTIFICATION
$7 in advance / $7 day of show (+$2 surcharge for under 21, collected at the door)
BUY TICKETS HERE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rickolus-w-swansgate-more-at-the-milestone-on-thursday-september-19th-tickets-66678596477
Drive-By Truckers have always been outspoken, telling a distinctly American story via craft, character, and concept, all backed by sonic ambition and social conscience. Founded in 1996 by singer/songwriter/guitarists Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood, the band have long held a progressive fire in their belly but with AMERICAN BAND, they have made the most explicitly political album in their extraordinary canon. A powerful and legitimately provocative work, hard edged and finely honed, the album is the sound of a truly American Band – a Southern American band – speaking on matters that matter. DBT made the choice to direct the Way We Live Now head on, employing realism rather than subtext or symbolism to purge its makers’ own anger, discontent, and frustration with societal disintegration and the urban/rural divide that has partitioned the country for close to a half-century. Master songwriters both, Hood and Cooley wisely avoid overt polemics to explore such pressing issues as race, income inequality, the NRA, deregulation, police brutality, Islamophobia, and the plague of suicides and opioid abuse. As a result, songs like “What It Means” and the tub-thumping “Kinky Hypocrites” are intensely human music from a rock ‘n’ roll band yearning for community and collective action. Fueled by a just spirit of moral indignation and righteous rage, AMERICAN BAND is protest music fit for the stadiums, designed to raise issues and ire as the nation careens towards its most momentous election in a generation.
“I don’t want there to be any doubt as to which side of this discussion we fall on,” Hood says. “I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding of where we stand. If you don’t like it, you can leave. It’s okay. We’re not trying to be everybody’s favorite band, we’re going to be who we are and do what we do and anyone who’s with us, we’d love to have them join in.”
Mike Cooley is somewhat more direct. “I wanted this to be a no bones about it, in your face political album,” he says. “I wanted to piss off the assholes.”
AMERICAN BAND’s considerable force can in part be credited to the sheer musical strength of the current Drive-By Truckers line-up, with Hood and Cooley joined by bassist Matt Patton, keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Jay Gonzalez, and drummer Brad Morgan – together, the longest-lasting iteration in the band’s two-decade history. AMERICAN BAND follows ENGLISH OCEANS and 2015’s IT’S GREAT TO BE ALIVE!, marking the first time DBT have made three consecutive LPs with the same hard-traveling crew.
“This is the longest period of stability in our band’s history,” says Hood. “I think we finally hit the magic formula. It’s made everything more fun than it’s ever been, making records and playing shows.”
Drive-By Truckers might have maintained constancy but Hood embraced change by moving his family to Portland, OR in July 2015, a physical shift which he says “opened the floodgates” to a batch of deeply felt, strikingly emotional new songs. Having recorded the bulk of their canon in Athens, GA, the band was also eager to reinvent their own surroundings. Memphis was considered but when DBT’s November 2015 tour wrapped in Nashville, the band decided to spend a few days at the legendary Sound Emporium getting a head start on the new record.
Never ones to screw around in the studio, DBT cranked out nine new songs in just three 14-hour shifts, as ever with producer/engineer David Barbe at the helm. Coming in directly from the road put a head of steam behind the band, allowing them to lay it all out live on the floor, tracking songs like “Once They Banned Imagine” in little more than a single take.
“We realized we had most of the record,” Hood says, “so we went back after the holidays for four more days, but ended up finishing it in three. We tend to usually take about two weeks to make a record so this was really quick.”
“That was a lot of fun,” the Alabama-based Cooley says, “and a shorter drive for me.”
Speed was of the essence, as DBT was determined to get their record out at the height of the 2016 election season. By their very nature, Drive-By Truckers has always been an inherently political act, “but this is the first time it’s been out there on the surface,” Cooley says, “No bones about it.”
“I’ve always considered our band to be political,” Hood says. “I’ve studied and followed politics since I was a small kid. I got in trouble in third grade for a paper I wrote about Watergate – the teacher sent a note home to my parents saying I was voicing opinions about our president that she didn’t appreciate. That’s the one time I got in trouble at school where my parents sided with me.”
“SOUTHERN ROCK OPERA was a pretty political record,” Cooley says. “But we hadn’t had our first black president yet. We hadn’t sat in the bleachers and watched the backlash, which, as acquainted as we are with racism, went beyond what anyone imagined it would be.”
Political matters reared their head on 2014’s ENGLISH OCEANS, most explicitly on Cooley’s “Made Up English Oceans,” detailing the life and crimes of late Republican black ops master Lee Atwater. Hood further sharpened his own skills by penning an op-ed for the New York Times condemning the Confederate Flag and its vile role in Southern culture.
“That was a major learning experience,” he says. “Working with an editor, how to streamline what I’m trying to say, how to find the most powerful part and get rid of some of the excess. It was really grueling but I was eager to take it on and learn as much as I could from it.”
Hood delivered a finished draft to the Old Gray Lady and within moments, wrote the ferocious “Darkened Flags On The Cusp Of Dawn” on a borrowed guitar – his own gear in a moving van on its way to his family’s new home in Portland. The song, like so much of the album, is a direct response to 2014’s police shootings of unarmed African-Americans, a moment both Hood and Cooley see as the catalyst for their blunt new approach. Long haunted by the police shooting of a mentally ill neighbor in his former hometown of Athens, GA, Hood wrote “What It Means” in the heat of Ferguson, Staten Island, and the subsequent emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It was all in my head and just kind of bubbling at the surface,” Hood says. “I think we knew early on that was the direction this record was going to go in.”
Hood’s friend and collaborator for more than half their lives, Cooley was a on similar trip, reading, writing, and pondering the very same issues that rend the country in two.
“We have conversations about all this stuff,” he says, “but not necessarily in terms of planning an album or anything. Then we go home, he writes a song, I write a song, and they’re both basically about the same thing.”
“We tend to come to the same conclusions separately but together,” Hood says. “We don’t really discuss it until we have a bunch of songs. We’ve always been astounded at how much common ground our songs have, record after record. SOUTHERN ROCK OPERA is the only time we discussed a game plan for what we were going to write, the only time. It’s kind of uncanny. Truly a beautiful thing.”
Further creative inspiration came from a pair of American milestone pieces of art, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ National Book Award-winning Between The World and Me and Kendrick Lamar’s TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY, “in my opinion, the greatest musical work of our current time,” says Hood.
“It’s an inspiring album and one that made me question myself,” he says. “I’m a white guy from the South, do I have the right to be singing about this stuff? What can I do? The only conclusion I could come up with was maybe white guys, with Southern accents, who look like rednecks, need to say Black Lives Matter too. It’s a start, a tiny start, but a step in the right direction is better than no step at all.”
“I couldn’t not do it,” says Cooley. “I’ve got to speak about this stuff, somehow or another. And I’m going to speak about it from a middle aged Southern white working class evangelical background male point of view.”
Much like Lamar’s GRAMMY® Award-winning song cycle, AMERICAN BAND serves as a stark, tightly focused snapshot of today’s America, an exemplary illustration of rock ‘n’ roll as a vehicle for social commentary and clear-eyed reportage. “Guns of Umpqua” captures Hood’s reaction to the 2015 shooting at Roseburg, OR’s Umpqua Community College while Cooley’s breakneck “Ramon Casiano” is a topical folk rocker telling the little known tale of former National Rife Association leader Harlon Carter and the murder of 15-year-old Ramon Casiano. Known as “Mr. NRA,” Carter transformed the organization from its original role as a sportsmen and conservationist group into what Cooley correctly declares “a right wing, white supremacist gun cult.” A Southern-rooted band opening their album with such a song makes for a singularly powerful statement, the NRA’s monolithic control of the debate demanding opposing artists to be as overt and vocal on the issue as possible.
“The NRA needs to be turned into a political turd in a swimming pool,” Cooley says, “so all these fuckers will start paddling away.
“What I’m trying to do is point straight to the white supremacist core of gun culture,” Cooley concludes. “That’s what it is and that’s where its roots are. When gun culture thinks about all the threats they need to be armed against, what color are they?”
Of course the personal can also be politic, represented here by Hood’s deeply felt “Baggage.” Penned the night of Robin Williams’ death, the song sees Hood examining his own demons and long bout with depression, “the worst I’ve had as an older adult,” he says. “I was kind of blindsided by it. There had always been a tangible thing that I could point to as to what was wrong, but this time I was grasping for something and not quite finding it.”
AMERICAN BAND is surprisingly optimistic thanks to Hood’s “absolutely” improved mental health as well as Drive-By Truckers’ passion for the issues behind the material. The band intend to hit the road harder than ever in support of AMERICAN BAND, bringing their songs to the people as they have always done, only this time with the country’s very future at stake. Fortunately for America, Drive-By Truckers are, as a Great Man once said, fired up, ready to go.
“I feel like Cooley and I both nailed what were going for on every song on this record,” Hood says. “I don’t think there’s a wasted line or word on this record. There’s nothing I would change, that’s for sure. I think we got this one right.”
“I’m sure there will be people saying ‘I wish they’d keep the politics out of it,’” Cooley says, “but one of the characteristics among the people and institutions we are taking to task in these songs is their self-appointed status as the exclusive authority on what American is. What is American enough and who the real Americans are. Putting AMERICAN BAND right out front is our way of reclaiming the right to define our American identity on our own terms, and show that it’s out of love of country that we draw our inspiration.”
Jimbo Mathus has blazed a singular path as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and shaman for 40 years. Founder of New Orleans swing band Squirrel Nut Zippers as well as recording and releasing more than 300 songs that are a testament to his hoodoo craftsmanship and to the sounds, sights and spirits of his inspirations in the deep South. His new album, INCINERATOR, which debuted on April 5th via Mississippi’s Big Legal Mess Records, is the epitome of that art – an incendiary reflection of his world in music. Incinerator was recorded in a burst of inspiration in Water Valley, Mississippi’s Dial Back Sound. Produced by Bronson Tew and Matt Patton, bassist of Drive-By Truckers.
From the moment Bryce Avary, better knownas The Rocket Summer, exploded onto the scene as a teenager in the early 2000s at the forefront of a wave of indie pop he has been a musical force. Charging out of Texas and onto the international stage he has never been in short supply of ear-worm hooks and effortless charm.Fans have flocked to Avary’s optimistic and exuberant songcraft and the community it inspires for years. Now,with a new album, Sweet Shivers, Avary’s musical evolution and the breadth of his songwriting is on full display.The albumis stunningly expansive, withhallmarks of Avary’s familiar songwriting style in lyrics that manage to be both extremely personal and universally applicable.“Writing is where I feel most normal, it’s where I come alive” he reflects. As with previous records, Avary’s musical virtuosity is apparent. He wrote, produced, recorded, mixed, and performed every instrument on the album. Seven albums into his career, Avary is just hitting his stride and leaving his mark as one of the most reliable songwriters and multi instrumentalists in rock music.
Start Time: 7:30
June 28, 2019–Today Royal Teeth release their long-awaited full-length sophomore album Hard Luck featuring five recently released singles and a slew of brand-new unreleased tracks.
Hard Luck marks the band’s comeback to indie rock, with a progression in their sound that exudes energy and conviction. No stranger to the ups and downs of the music industry, they’re signed to their third label in just over six years. “There were days where I just accepted that this was probably going to be over soon,”vocalist Gary Larsen recalls. “Something finally switched inside of me. I decided that if we are going down, then we are going down swinging.”Feeling inspired to create new songs with a new fresh sound, the quartet whole-heartedly decided it was worth a return to the music scene.
Though as their fans know, Royal Teeth are also no strangers to success. Their 2012 debut EPAct Naturally and their first LP, Glow, in 2013 spawned the hit single “Wild, ”followed by their 2016 EPA mateurs. They’ve turned heads at major tastemakers including Consequence of Sound and MTV, and have been featured in SiriusXM Alt Nation’s Advanced Placement, as well as appearing on Last Call With Carson Daly and American Idol. The group has played major festivals such as Austin City Limits, JazzFest, Bonnaroo, and Firefly; and racked in nearly 15 million streams on Spotify to date. Over the course of the last six years, they’ve supported acts such as The Wombats, Fitz and the Tantrums, The Mowgli’s, Rooney, and just finished a line of dates with Smallpools last month.
Since the group began recording from their homes in New Orleans and Nashville as farback as 2017, they’ve felt revitalized. Unlike their previous releases, the new album is rough around the edges. “We didn’t want to reference anything we had done before. We needed to move on and figure out what we are today,”Larsen explains.
“This line of work can be difficult. It requires you to be vulnerable and put yourself out there to be judged by others. It’s hard to get used to. We are using this album as a platform to face our fears, and to focus on the love we find through the music we create and those who connect along the way. Larsen continues, “I hope that this album gives strength to anyone who has a hard time putting themselves out there for the world to see.”
“Never Gonna Quit,” the first single, serves as a mission statement for the album, boasting loudly the ability to take a shot to the chin and continue pushing forward. Other album hits include the amped up track “It’s Just The Start,” “Show You What I Can Do” with the incredible Tunde Olaniran, the vulnerable ballad “Rivalry,”and theirlatest smashrocker “Get A Load Of This One.”
As a whole, Hard Luck rides the ups and downs of life’s challenges with an uncompromisable ambition that relies heavily on positivity and embraces life head on. Luck may be hard to find in the music biz, but it sounds like Royal Teeth may have found iton their own.
Royal Teeth is composed of singer and guitarist Larsen, singer Nora Patterson, guitarist Thomas Onebane, and drummer Josh Hefner. For more information visit royalteethmusic.com and follow the band on social media@RoyalTeeth and @RoyalTeethMusic for Twitter.
DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS
Drew Holcomb’s songs have always charged his listeners’ hearts and minds while inspiring them to think, feel, dance, and love. But with his new album, Dragons, his subject material finds the singer using a finer brush and mixing more of the joys, struggles, and specific moments of his own life than ever before to help him paint his masterpieces and connect with fans on a universal level. With its modern production, careful sense of craft and collaboration, and rafter-reaching anthems carrying profound, intentional lyrics, the album represents Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors’s biggest moment yet, a powerful portrait stretched across a wide sonic canvas.
The story of Dragons is the culmination of myriad events, connections, challenges, and years of hard, determined work for Holcomb, both as a bandleader and a family man. For the last decade, the Tennessee-based musician has established himself as one of Americana and Southern roots music’s freshest upstarts, building his following and critical appeal with every release, show, and venture. From his position as curator and entrepreneur with various undertakings—from co-creator of the successful, diverse Moon River Music Festival that makes its sold-out home in Chattanooga this Fall, to the Magnolia Record Club vinyl subscription program that he founded and curates on a monthly basis—to his role of husband for the last 14 years and father to three children, Holcomb cites the nature of his life of late as equal parts “collaborative” and “chaotic.” Having released a full-length Neighbors album, Souvenir, in 2017 to much acclaim, a co-released EP with Johnnyswim, Goodbye Road, in 2018, enjoyed the stripped-down and mostly sold-out “You & Me” tour with his wife, singer Ellie Holcomb, in 2018 and early 2019, and opened larger shows for Willie Nelson and the Zac Brown Band with The Neighbors, Holcomb’s legend and reach continues to grow. So when it came time to begin work on a new album, he forced himself to try something different and to mine untapped territory—and in a manner he had never before attempted.
As Holcomb embarked on the tour for Souvenir in 2017, he disciplined himself to write new songs in a more consistent manner than his past efforts. Where his previous work was written more in lump sum moments during specific blocks of time set aside for creative outburst, he found that spending two to three days each week with his guitar in hand and working on new material yielded better results in both quantity and diversity. Inspired to “throw off some self-imposed shackles” in terms of subject matter and style, the new material was shaping up to point him in an altogether new and exciting direction—and perhaps because he had opened himself up to writing while his “normal” life was rolling along, the songs began to take on a more intimate point of view.
To assist him with the scope of the challenge, Holcomb turned to his friends and peers for collaboration—in fact, six of Dragons’s ten songs are co-writes. Even though he was writing about his own unique experiences, Holcomb discovered that the support of other trusted ears and hearts proved valuable beyond his estimation. From working with the legendary Lori McKenna on several songs and country songwriting star Natalie Hemby on another, to previous tourmate Sean McConnell as well as Zach Williams of The Lone Bellow, Holcomb learned how to reap the benefits of sharing without being territorial while ultimately serving his own vision for the pieces at large. He also co-wrote the song “Bittersweet” with producer and songwriter Cason Cooley (Ingrid Michaelson, American Authors), loving the process and result so much that he invited Cooley to produce the entire album.
Cooley took Holcomb and the Neighbors to the esteemed Echo Mountain studio in Asheville, North Carolina, to record in January of 2019. They shared a vision for the finished album that would give it a more modern sound than Holcomb’s previous recordings, with his songs balancing the line of large, layered anthems with nuanced singer-songwriter moments—or, as he says, “expanding the emotional architecture of the songs so that the bigger themes and emotions would have space to hit harder.” Having always allowed his band—including Rich Brinsfield on bass, Nathan Dugger on guitar, and session drummer Will Sayles—to play by its own rules, Holcomb and company again embraced that ethos and remained open-minded for the inclusion of any instrument, tweak, technique, or style as long as it served the human element and earnest feeling of each song. Several were tracked live with minimal studio tweaking occurring afterwards, and others were built over time with a more fastidious approach. The result is Holcomb’s brightest and most complex album yet, a focused and cohesive affair that challenges the sonic notions of where his music can travel while still connecting directly to his listeners’ hearts.
Dragons begins with “Family,” an infectious, upbeat stomper about the universal yet unique nostalgia of growing up, as told through the reflective lens of fatherhood. “My family gave me wings to be a songwriter,” Holcomb says. “Family can drive you crazy but it can also be the tie that binds.” A staple in the band’s live set for the past year, it originally had more of a front porch feel but evolved into its worldly, amped-up Paul Simon-esque version during the recording process. Next, “End of the World” is an electrified clarion call for unity, community, and revelry in the upside-down world of today—Holcomb’s take on eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die. “Sometimes throwing a party is the only way to fight off the darkness, and I wanted it to be an epic, boisterous, raise-your-glass-and-yell-with-me anthem,” he says. The song forced him out of his comfort zone and stretches him to new vocal and melodic heights, resulting in one of the most rewarding moments of his career to date.
A similar triumph from a different corner of his soul is “You Never Leave My Heart,” a touching and tender daydream filled with sadness that Holcomb wrote right after the New Year about the death of his brother nearly 20 years ago. For most of that time he had been unable to write in a way that captured the full scope of grief and emotional loss, but last January he found the right words and sings them through the most intense and sublime vocal performance of his career, leaving every piece of his heart on the studio floor in the process. Meanwhile, songs for his son and wife, “See the World” and “But I’ll Never Forget the Way You Make Me Feel,” showcase a similarly sensitive approach, highlighted by Holcomb’s knack for multi-level details and his ability to share the intimate moments of his most meaningful relationships in a universal way.
But the album’s true heart is its eponymous song, “Dragons,” a strong, vibrant tune about wrestling down the various roles we all play while living a life filled with love and pride. Inspired by Holcomb’s grandfather, a larger-than-life personality who embodied the spirit of living to his peak until his final days, the song imagines his ghost-like return to visit Holcomb in a dream. It is a bombastic number about bearing witness to the truth and justice the world lacks, despite not knowing what tomorrow might bring. And while searching for a title for the entire record, Holcomb recognized the song’s bigger implications and realized how its message exemplifies the larger work.
“A big part of this record for me was about taking stock of the many roles I play and synthesizing them into the emotions of these songs,” Holcomb says. “I’ve made peace with the fact that I live a pretty normal life—I’ve got a happy marriage, healthy kids, a job I enjoy immensely—and yet still I’m reminded of the quote: ‘Always be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.’ Everybody is trying to fight their way through some sort of hell; people wake up every morning and there are dragons they have to slay that day. What I’ve learned is that music is here to help us overcome and get through life and survive those moments.”
For Drew Holcomb, music is what helps us try to understand our place in a world full of equal parts chaos, confusion, love, and community, and Dragons is his reminder to all of us to keep fighting the good fight and to never give up.
Birdtalker is Zack and Dani Green, Andy Hubright, Brian Seligman and Jesse Baker.
Zack and Dani were married in 2012 and soon after their wedding tried writing a couple songs together. They liked it, so they wrote a couple more. Andy, a friend from college and very talented drummer, was into the songs and started beating on stuff while Zack and Dani played them. It sounded good. While these 3 were playing the songs at Shakespeare in the Park one August afternoon, Brian became interested in adding his immense talent to the mix as well and began playing along with mandolin and guitar. It sounded even better. Birdtalker as these 4 members wrote and practiced for about a year when yet another talented friend and Birdtalker’s biggest fan, Jesse, expressed interest in lending his bass sounds to the band. It is the combination of each member’s specific offerings that gives Birdtalker the life and sound that it now possesses. And it doesn’t hurt that they all like each other a heck of a lot, too.
Zack and Dani write songs as a way to share ideas they care about and sentiments they feel deeply. Playing music has proven to be a powerful avenue for connection and communion, within the band as well as with listeners. Birdtalker’s hope is simply that the more music they write and share, the more true and vulnerable interactions may be born from it.
A true living legend of songwriting, Jimmy Webb’s been crafting amazing songs, many of which have become cherished standards, for some forty years. And he’s still doing it. Now on tour with his newest CD, “Still Within the Sound of My Voice” Jimmy Webb is engaging his audiences like never before. Though some might still not know his name, they know the songs: “Wichita Lineman,” “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Galveston,” “The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress,” “All I Know,” “The Highwayman,” “Up, Up and Away,” “MacArthur Park,” and many more. And those are just the famous ones. Webb is one of those rare songwriters who manages to bring a genuine measure of magic to everything he touches.
“He’s a prodigious performer, and a night with Jimmy at the keys is not unlike getting to hear George Gershwin or Cole Porter live. It’s hard to believe one guy could have written all these amazing songs. Webb is still at it, thankfully, and if you get a chance to see him live, grab it. People ask why nobody writes songs like they used to. Fortunately for us all, Jimmy Webb still does.” -American Songwriter Magazine
“Mr. Webb is a superb natural melodist whose best songs often combine the tuneful directness of country music with the unabashedly romantic harmonic palette of classic Hollywood film scores.” – The New York Times