WELCOME BACK TO THE GRAND OLE ECHO!
Sunday, May 19th @ The Echo
1822 Sunset in Echo Park, CA 90026
HIT PLAY ON THE MUSIC PLAYER AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE TO SAMPLE MUSIC FROM THE UPCOMING SHOW!
QUEEN OF THE MINOR KEY (Signature – June 28, 2011) It is the battered cassette jammed in the tape deck of the getaway car, the music Ida Lupino cues up on the roadhouse jukebox as she counts the till after close. This is Queen of the Minor Key by Eilen Jewell, a smart cookie with a heart of burnished gold and enough stories to keep even the rowdiest crowd hanging on her every word. Though its long shadows and dark corners make her kingdom feel intimate, her sovereign domain stretches as far as the imagination. Its denizens seek refuge in padded rooms, abandoned automobiles… and strong spirits. They defend their territory by any means necessary: weird voodoo, sawed-off shotguns, broken bottles.
But beware, savvy observer. There is more to Eilen Jewell than meets the ear. Do not confuse the singer and her songs. The drama and darkness that give Queen of the Minor Key its gritty texture are in short supply in the Boston-based songwriter’s personal life. And in a curious twist, these fourteen originals actually took shape in a sunny, idyllic location that contrasts strikingly with the album’s moody, film noir atmosphere.
In August 2010, Jewell headed to a tiny cabin in the mountains of Idaho. Although her clan hails from the Gem State, this was no comfy retreat at the family fold. Her temporary abode had no running water or electricity, and sat at the end of a winding dirt road. Wild elk would graze in the surrounding meadows while she worked. When it was time to unwind, she availed herself of a nearby hot springs. A dilapidated truck she found on the property even made its way into the album artwork.
She had no set game plan, and her sole objective for the new material was refreshingly modest (or incredibly daunting, depending on your point of view). “My goal as a songwriter is to always improve,” she demurs. “Every time I make a record, I want it to be even more real, more heartfelt, than the one before it. I want the slow songs to be slower and the fast songs to be faster.” Drawing on a connoisseur’s love of roots music and a writer’s eye for detail, Jewell fashions her musical vignettes with impressive economy. Each turn of phrase and chord change is executed with an élan that belies the measured precision behind it.
Jewell is wary of repeating previous success by following formulae. “But I also don’t want to change things just for the sake of changing them,” she adds. Never underestimate the public’s ability to recognize calculation masquerading as inspiration. “You always want to ride the creative process to new territory, without being overwhelmingly novel.”
Towards that end, she experimented with dark humor in the new material. The title tune takes inspiration from a poke someone made about her harmonic preferences. “I decided to run with that and adopt the moniker, even if it started off as a nickname that wasn’t necessarily intended to be flattering.” “Bang Bang Bang” eschews the cliché of Cupid as a rosy-cheeked cherub (“he’s more reckless and violent than that”), and replaces his petite bow-and-arrow with a gun show six-gauge, plus a laughing disregard for such trivial concerns as aim.
Queen of the Minor Key is also the first Eilen Jewell album to feature a significant number of guest players, even as she continues to work in close consort with her longtime trio of drummer Jason Beek, guitarist Jerry Miller, and upright bassist Johnny Sciascia. Zoe Muth and Big Sandy (of Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys) both contribute vocals. “I was writing the songs with them in mind—if I could work up the courage to ask them—so I was really honored that they agreed to sing with me.” Further augmenting the sound are Rich Dubois on fiddle, David Sholl on tenor and baritone saxophones, and Tom West on organ. The arrangements, Jewell insists, occurred organically as the music was fleshed out in the studio; the songs tell her where they want to go. “We don’t really think it out that much.”
Since her official 2006 debut, Boundary County, Jewell has surveyed a wide range of traditional musical styles, from the folk and jug band leanings of her early recordings, through an album-length homage to Loretta Lynn and the country gospel of her work with The Sacred Shakers, right up to 2009′s Sea of Tears, which bristled with the electricity of ’60s UK garage rock and Chicago blues. Queen of the Minor Key draws on everything from classic country (the fiddle-driven “Reckless”) to early R&B (the shuffling “Hooked”), with an emphasis on sounds from the seamier side of the tracks. With dirty sax riffs and low-slung guitars, the instrumentals that bookend the album—”Radio City” and “Kalimotxo”—evoke the bump-and-grind exotica of vintage Southern California suburban saloons. Yet on the flipside, Jewell imbues slow, jazzy numbers like “I Remember You” and “Only One” with torch and tenacity that linger long past last call.
Eilen Jewell is the Queen of the Minor Key. Sad songs are her wealth and finery. Lend her your ears, and you will quickly hear why her humble subjects admire and adore her more with each passing year.
Jeremiah & the Red Eyes
Los Angeles-based/Emmy nominated /Native American/ singer-songwriter Jeremiah Sammartano who fronts the bluesy Americana group, Jeremiah and the Red Eyes, has covered many miles over the past several years - taking the various roads spreading the "Delta Blues and Twangy Grooves" from Los Angeles outward to Flagstaff, Denver, Austin, St. Louis, Nashville (where he relocated for a spell in 2008-2009), Chicago, Cincinnati - and recently overseas to London and Brighton, UK. In the past Jeremiah has shared the stage with Willie Nelson, Southern Culture On The Skids,Tommy Womack, David Olney, Mike Stinson, SHURMAN and has performed on the radio shows: WDVX Blue Plate Special out of Knoxville, TN., The Live@Lunch show on KRFC out of Fort Collins, CO., and Chris Morris' Watusi Rodeo show out of Los Angeles. In Spring 2011 Jeremiah received an Emmy nomination for writing music for the documentary Prison Through Tomorrow's Eyes. Two albums have been released - 2004's Red Eyed And Restless and 2010's Under Your Spell - and soon, for the Fall of 2012, a new 10 song album called HOME will be released - followed by more tours and shows
New American Farmers
New American Farmers Showcase Their In-Season, Local and Chemical-Free Folklore On Brand New Day
Paul Knowles And Nicole Storto Leave Mars, AZ for Berkeley’s Pastures Of Plenty
Paul Knowles and Nicole Storto spent most of the last decade performing and recording as Mars, Arizona, winning fans with their original brand of cosmic Americana. Like many other American towns, Mars, Arizona recently disappeared, forced to move on after four well received albums. “Like the vanishing American family farm, it became too expensive to run the family business,” Knowles says. “The town was auctioned off and we became New American Farmers. We hope to survive by embracing sustainable approaches to music production and delivery.”
On Brand New Day (a full length to be released on April 9, 2013), Knowles and Storto continue to showcase their evolution as songwriters intent on celebrating the essence of the American experience with all its contradictions and complexities. “By calling ourselves New American Farmers, we’re suggesting a sense of independence and self reliance away from corporate structures. A lot of today's music and food is mostly poison and full of additives.”
Knowles produced the album, recording live at Berkeley’s Opus Studio and Fantasy Studios, adding vocals and a few guitar parts later at the band’s home facility. The arrangements span the entire roots music spectrum, with trumpet, pedal steel and a string quartet adding new colors to the mix. “The songs are about the human experience, putting a spotlight on those that are less fortunate, songs about having different viewpoints from the accepted norms when it comes to immigration, food, philosophy and materialism. We don’t have all the answers, or maybe even any, but we have to ask the questions.”
“Everywhere,” opens things up with a bluegrass/Americana romp, featuring banjo by Gene Parsons from the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers. It echoes the sound of those iconic groups with its warm harmonies and upbeat message. The moody trumpet of Ara Anderson, from Tom Waits’ band, adds to the desolate feel of “Don’t Wait For Me Here,” a ballad about immigrants crossing the border hoping for of a better life and the families they leave behind. Knowles’ vocal is equal parts anticipation and sadness. A sighing slide guitar, played by Dave Walker, that recalls George Harrison’s best work gives “Brand New Day” the sound of jubilant desperation. A dad tries to put the best face on a family’s flight from the Great Recession. The emotionally complex “Sad Hotel” is a country weeper that investigates the end of a relationship, when home is just another empty room on the lost highway. Dave Zirbel’s sensitive pedal steel adds glistening teardrops to the song’s bleak aura.
The band shows its lighter side on “Can't Get It Out Of My Head,” the ELO hit stripped of its bombast. Knowles supplies piano and Storto croons a winning vocal supported by The Real Vocal String Quartet and Dave Zirbel’s spirited pedal steel fills. “Hypocrite” is a rocker full of ironic, self-effacing humor, but it makes a serious point about the 1%, while “How Do We Do It” is a bitter meditation on the trials of the 99% given a bare bones delivery by Knowles and his piano, played through a Space Echo tape machine.
“We want to elevate the GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) of our community, state, country and world,” Knowles says. “If people like the album, hopefully they’ll come to our shows, or buy an album, which we’ll have out on 180 gram vinyl as well as CD. We just want to be able to make the next record, and the next, play some good shows, boost the overall GDH and forget about the GDP.”
(The duo had their debut performance as Mars, Arizona at Chicago's Double Door in 1999. They came to California shortly thereafter and made four albums: Love Songs from the Apocalypse, All Over the Road, Hello Cruel World and High Desert before changing their name to New American Farmers in 2012.)
"We had never had any real conscious drive to self-sufficiency. We had thought, like a lot of people, that it would be nice to grow our own vegetables. But living here had altered our sense of values. We find that we no longer place the same importance on artifacts and gadgets as other people do. Also, every time we buy some factory-made article, we wonder what sort of people made it- if they enjoyed making it or if it was just a bore- what sort of life the maker, or makers, lead. I wonder where all this activity is leading. Is it really leading to a better or richer or simpler life for people? Or not? I wonder about the nature of progress. One can progress in so many different directions. Up a gum-tree, for example. I know that the modern factory worker is supposed to lead an 'easier' life than, say, the peasant. But I wonder if this supposition is correct. And I wonder if, whether 'easier' or not, it is a better life? Simpler? Healthier? More spiritually satisfying? Or not? So far as we can, we import our needs from small and honest craftsmen and tradesmen. We subscribe as little as we can to the tycoons, and the ad men, and the boys with their expense accounts. If we could subscribe to nothing at all, we would be better pleased." - John Seymour- Fat Of The Land
All Spots to Black
A restless multi-instrumentalist, All Spots To Black’s Philip Krohnengold is a career collaborator - currently touring with Sara Bareilles, and in the past having toured/recorded with Jeff Tweedy (wilco) and Gary Louris (the jayhawks) in Golden Smog, with the band Gomez, with Ben Harper, Meiko, Ferraby Lionheart, Leslie Stevens and the Badgers, Duncan Sheik, and others. Now in Los Angeles, he makes his musical home as a member both the americana/alt-country and indie rock families.
In All Spots To Black, Krohnengold combines the stark simplicity of a guitar trio with lush vocal harmonies in a palette reminiscent of panels from the indie comics he credits with much of his inspiration for songwriting. Hang-gliding in the appealing chasm between craggy despair and defiant vulnerability, the band falls somewhere between the moody roar of Mark Kozelek's Red House Painters and Tonight's-the-Night-era Neil Young. This is harmonic rock played with a sort of thoughtfully grim resignation that, when bolstered by an artful bottleneck slide guitar, transcends the inherent melancholy of the songs. The music is brainy, but mellow, but loud.
The band also features bass player Jon Flaugher (ryan adams), drummer Al Sgro (gary jules, alexi murdoch) and singer (and monster songwriter) Holly Conlan.
Their record The Water Tower is available at iTunes and other digital distribution outlets.
May 19: New American Farmers/ Jeremiah & The Red Eyes/ Eilen Jewel/ All Spots to Black
May 26: NO SHOW
June 2: Sam Outlaw/ Drive He Said (Maxim Ludwig)/ Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants/ Baba
June 9: TV Mike & The Scarecrows/ Michael & The Lonesome Playboys/ Rich Mahan & The Cocktail Heroes/ Years of Suns
June 16: Patrick Sweany/Mark Lennon and the Southern Tier/Funky Jenn and the Bad Intentions/Mason Summit
June 23: Lael Neal/Jackson Tanner/Olin & The Moon/Kathleen Grace
June 30: Single Girl Married Girl/Nocona/Big Sandy & His FlyRite Boys/Abby Posner
July 7: Nelson Bragg/Dawn Fintor/The Dustbowl Revival/Great Pacific
July 14: The Get Down Boys/Ocha La Rocha/Rick Shea/Country Supper
July 21: Calico/John LaFayette Ramey/I See Hawks in LA/Jeff Crosby
July 28: Charlie Faye/Matt Ellis/Rod Melancon/Eric "Cashew" Harding
August 4: Susie Glaze & The HiLonesome Band/Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst/Tony Gilkyson/Hot Club of LA
August 11: Drunk on Crutches/Granville Automatic/Mojo Monkeys/The Coals
August 18: NO SHOW
August 25: Ray Bonneville/Ben Reddell Band/Dan Janisch/Sarah Stanley
September 1: NO SHOW
September 8: Gwendolyn/Amelia White/The Far West (Record Release Party)/Modal Tease String Band
September 15: Casey Neill & The Norway Rats/Chris Laterzo & Buffalo Robe/The Gimme 5's/Taryn Stickwrath
September 22: Terraplane Special/The Psychedelic Cowboys/The Dave Gleason Band/The Easy Leaves
September 29: Son Ark/Greg Felden/David Serby (Record Release Party)/The Groovy Rednecks