Most people know Aaron Lee Tasjan as one of the wittiest, most offbeat, brilliant, weed-smokin’ & LSD microdosin’ Americana troubadours writing and singing songs today. And the New York Times, NPR and Rolling Stone will all gladly corroborate. But steel yourselves, folk fans, because he’s about to follow his restless muse straight out from under the weight of everyone’s expectations into the kind of glammy, jingle-jangle power-pop- and- psych-tinged sounds he hasn’t dabbled in since his younger days playing lead guitar for a late-period incarnation of The New York Dolls.
Really, the roots of Tasjan’s new record, Karma for Cheap, stretch even deeper, drinking up the sounds of a Southern California childhood spent listening to The Beatles while riding around with his mom at the wheel of their navy blue Volvo station wagon—back to the very first pre-teen year he picked up a six-string and started figuring out all the pretty little chords in those Lennon-McCartney tunes. Back to the pure, blissful unfiltered innocence of falling in love with music for the first time. But more on that later. First, let’s ponder the brutish realities of the American Swamp.
Aaron Lee Tasjan says he aims to use his music for good, but he’s no protest singer. And Karma for Cheap isn’t some heavy-handed, didactic political record cramming a set of talking points down anyone’s throat. It’s a finely tuned rock & roll seismograph measuring the dark and uncertain vibrations of the time in which it was created. A cracked mirror reflecting back the American zeitgeist in this foul year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Eighteen.
“When you’re a songwriter,” Tasjan says, you’re dealing in truths and untruths—that’s part of your commerce as a citizen of the world. And anything coming along that’s threatening to blur that line is a threat to your livelihood as a working American.”
Take it from Tasjan and Karma for Cheap, being a songwriter in the post-truth world of Trump’s America ain’t easy. Tasjan valiantly wrestles with this new normal in songs like “Set You Free” (“it’s a smokescreen scene and nobody knows what’s real”—fake news!) and “The Truth Is So Hard to Believe.” What will we do when we can no longer map the line between fact and fiction? When we exist in a world where the truth is unknowable and we’re at the mercy of liars and charlatans? “Hearts in chains and hands are off the wheel,” Tasjan sings in hypnotic staccato, tapping the collective cultural anxiety of all the rattled millions drifting off each night to a new American dream, one in which we’re all in a big red, white and blue camaro fishtailing down some winding tree-lined road in the bible-black dark, white-knuckle-clutching the oh-shit bar, accelerator glued to the floor and not a soul in the driver’s seat.
“The sound of this new record is a little more rough and ready, more raw than anything I’ve done before,” Tasjan says. “Seems like a good time for it. We’re living in a pretty raw feed right now, and a lot of these new songs reflect that. They deal with with being stuck in the deluge of horseshit every day. On social media, you see people suckered into getting all irate over some post that, in the end, turns out to be completely fake. We have to be aware of these mindsets, these traps and emotional pitfalls that send us spinning. Music for me is a comfort thing. And I’m trying to sing about all this to remind myself not to get caught up in the game. There are a lot of people out there carrying the burden of this weird, twisted world we’re living in at the moment on their shoulders. So I tried to write a record that offers some comfort, encouragement and hope to those people, as much as it’s possible to be hopeful right now.”
Karma for Cheap is Tasjan’s third LP and second for his label New West Records, based in his current hometown of Nashville. The record was co-produced by ALT and his friends Jeff Trott (Stevie Nicks, Liz Phair, Meiko, Joshua Radin) and Gregory Lattimer (Albert Hammond Jr.) and features Aaron Lee’s road band—guitarist Brian Wright, bassist Tommy Scifres and drummer Seth Earnest—with whom he’s been touring heavily for the last two years.
While the stylistic shift from Tasjan’s palpably stoned ‘70s-country-channeling 2015 debut, In the Blazes, to his more sophisticated, introspective and lushly produced 2016 follow-up, Silver Tears, was relatively incremental, Karma’s rocked-up Brit-pop-influenced Beatles-Bowie-Badfinger vibes underscore a significant departure. The album boldly reminagines these vintage sounds, pushing the boundary of what can be considered Americana. With Karma, Tasjan establishes himself as an artist who not only evolves over time, but isn’t afraid to risk reinventing himself completely from one record to the next.
“It’s always a goal for me to be able to not listen to the part of my brain that cares what other people think, and just do something really pure and from the heart,” he says. “I needed this album to have a sense of adventure and mystery, to feel a little shaky and dangerous at times—something that wasn’t the obvious choice in terms of what people already like about what I do. I’ve come to realize that I’m a searcher, which means I’m going to be searching forever.” Aaron Lee pauses and laughs at the notion, and what’s in store for the rest of his life—ticket bought, ride in progress. “Yep, this is never going to end,” he says. “No oasis, no safe harbor to stop and say, ‘Well, I’ve gotten here, and now I’m good.’ In some ways it’s a harsh realization—living in that type of headspace can cause a lot of turmoil. But if you can find beauty in the mundane… well, there you go. I’ve definitely been making more of an effort to enjoy the journey.”
For all the album’s wrestling with social and political discord and the stresses of modern life due to the grand experiment of social media and the unforgiving tractor beam of the world-wired-web, Karma for Cheap finds its silver lining in the innocence of a wide-eyed kid’s maiden voyage into the electrifying thrall of rock & roll. The heaviness of the lyrical content is tempered by the joy and wonder of an artist reconnecting with what made him fall in love with playing music in the first place. The sound of it, the way it made him feel when he was 11 years old and it was all still as new as a fresh coat of spray paint from the can of some smug delinquent. That was 1997—the year Tasjan moved from Ohio to California, and scored his first guitar and a stack of iconic CDs by The Beatles, Oasis and Tom Petty.
A huge sonic touchstone for ALT’s new record is The Beatles Anthology, one of his childhood favorites. In songs like “If Not Now When,” “Song Bird” and “The Rest Is Yet to Come,” you can hear echoes of George Harrison’s vibrant guitar riffs and Jeff Lynne’s lavish production on those lo-fi John Lennon demos the surviving Beatles dug up and polished off in the mid ‘90s. “‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Real Love’—those were my jams when I first started playing guitar,” Tasjan says. “I was learning those and a lot of other Beatles songs. And then Oasis came out with ‘Wonderwall’ and I was like, oh that’s The Beatles for my generation, and I became obsessed with them, too.”
Perhaps the most poignant moment on Karma for Cheap is the anthemic, hypnotic “Heart Slows Down,” a tune rife with musical and lyrical references to the Beatles and Tom Petty, anchored by an unforgettable chorus with a Traveling Wilburys vibe that finds the sweet spot between Tasjan’s two earliest musical heroes. “When I was a kid, my favorite CD to fall asleep to was Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits, and the last song is a cover of that Thunderclap Newman song ‘Something in the Air.’ From the time I was a little kid to when I was teenager, I used to listen to that song on headphones almost every night—I heard it in that space between wake and sleep so many times. And Tom’s passing—he was a really big hero of mine, so it hit me pretty hard. We were in Seattle playing a show when I heard, and it was a heavy thing to process. But all of those elements are there in ‘Heart Slows Down.’ The chorus, ‘I will always be around,’ is a reminder that all the good you ever got out of listening to this music is still around you. You’ll always have that.”
Rich Layton & Tough Town are keepers of the flame for American roots music. It’s high octane swamp rock, country, rockabilly and the honky tonk blues echoing from an East Texas roadhouse. The band has a signature sound that sits right alongside such eclectic artists as Marty Stuart, Dave Alvin and Lukas Nelson. Each set takes audiences for a ride from Sun Studios to Chess Records, and Muscle Shoals to Bakersfield. Rich’s original songs fit seamlessly into the mix, weaving his Gulf Coast roots through tales of rock and roll redemption, harmonica-fueled and swampified.
Rich Layton – vocals & harmonica | Larry McCoy – guitar & back-up vocals
Haus (Eric Krabbenhoft) – bass | Charles Pike – drums & back-up vocals
Together over a decade now, the band has released three albums and performs at major festivals and showcase clubs throughout the Northwest. Each year, Rich joins Lyle Lovett as a special guest when Lyle tours the NW. Rich also has played on Portland tour stops by long-time friends Lucinda Williams, Dale Watson, Buckwheat Zydeco (R.I.P.) and more.
Growing up with 2 parents who grew up in the 60’s, Erin Bowman has been listening to and loving amazing
music her entire life. Whether it was “Let it Be” by The Beatles, “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen (a fellow
New Jersey native), or “It’s My Party” by Leslie Gore she was into it. A 90’s baby herself, Bowman’s
knowledge and love for music spans decades. Inspired by pop acts and bands of the 90’s in particular she
knew she wanted to pursue music at an early age. After graduating high school, not having a clue how to
pursue a career in music, she started going into New York City looking to meet with producers and songwriters who might want to work with her. After several failed auditions, several unreturned phone calls, and a little bit of heartbreak she met a producer who saw something in her. Bowman, only a singer at the time began recording songs written by the producer. Suggesting she start writing herself, with the melody and concept already started Bowman
alongside her producer finished writing what would be her first single “Problem.” “Problem” was added to Sirius XM 20 on 20 and in 2 weeks was a top 5 requested song. Her next single “King Boy” trumped her first becoming the 5th most played song of the year on Sirius XM 20 on 20 while also selling over 20,000 copies, a major feat for an independent artist.
With the success of her first 2 releases Bowman found herself writing with more and more producers/
songwriters. She had been working on new music with a writer at Warner Chappell Publishing when the synch
team there received a request for a song about staying warm. Alongside the producer Bowman wrote “Keep
Me Warm,” a release that would play in a national McDonald’s ad campaign for over a month, as well as
receive airplay on 3 different radio formats: Top 40, Hot AC, and AC.
Continuing to work alongside different writers/producers she caught the attention of Kobalt Music. A
publishing company who’s rosters includes the likes of Max Martin, Mumford and Sons, Simon and Garfunkel,
Lionel Richie, Dixie Chicks, Beck, and countless other successful artists and songwriters. Eventually signed to
a Kobalt publishing deal herself Bowman released “Good Time Good Life,” through AWAL, Kobalt’s global
artist services company. “Good Time Good Life” debuted on NBC’s This Is Us, ran in a national Target ad, a
national Beaches Resort ad, and was chosen by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to drive
The Oscar’s 2017 promo aired on ABC for over 2 months. The Oscar promo lead to Bowman’s national TV
debut on Good Morning America where she performed “Good Time Good Life,” followed up with a
performance at the Radio Disney Music Awards, and Live with Kelly and Ryan.
With the success of “Good Time Good Life,” and a move out west (a NJ native now in Los Angeles) Bowman
found herself working on music going in a slightly different direction. She was doing less co-writes and found
herself writing everyday on her own. Songs started pouring out of her. Her life was changing and the music
she was writing was some of the realest she had ever written. In March of 2018 Bowman found herself
traveling to London to explore a new city and work on new music. A NJ native, now based in Los Angeles,
traveling to London. It was on a whim that she decided to attend an open mic night where she’d perform a
couple of her new songs for the first time. It was at that open mic night that she would meet the 2 cowriters/
producers that would bring this new direction of music, this new project, to life. Bowman traveled back to
London for over a month in the summer and in the fall to work on what will be her first ever EP. A lyrically
driven, wearing her heart on her sleeve, completely open and honest EP titled Apartment 101. Scheduled to
be released Summer 2019.
Eric Woodring currently resides in Houston, Texas and is a performing songwriter. He is as Texan as they come and classifies as a traditional country musician. Woodring writes true Texas music and delivers it with a voice that will knock your boots off.
Woodring started playing music professionally in 1996 after moving to Lubbock, TX, becoming a young frosh at Texas Tech University. He quickly became entrenched in the Lubbock music scene and began frequenting multiple venues throughout the Hub City. In the late 90s, he formed and fronted the Texas Speedbump Band. The band became quite popular regionally, frequently performing in the West Texas and Texas Panhandle region. After leaving Lubbock, post-graduation, he settled in New Braunfels, TX where he focused solely on songwriting and performing, often with friend and former Speedbumps fiddler, Tommy Sheen. After relocating to Austin to pursue an attractive day job, he met local Austin music producer and engineer, Ron Flynt and began recording a full-length record. In 2004, he released his first album titled “Lifemiles”. Following the release, he launched the Lifemiles tour of the Southwest US, and received regional radio play.
In 2006, he settled in Houston and reunited with Kyle Wright, his long-time friend and former bandmate from Lubbock’s Texas Speedbump Band. After a few rehearsals, they were at it again – playing local Houston venues. In 2012 he began fronting the successful Houston cover band, Retroburn. The band frequented top Houston-area venues such as House of Blues, Pleasure Pier and the Kemah Boardwalk. It was during this time that he developed a working relationship with Retroburn’s lead guitarist, Gerald Thurmond. Thurmond, Woodring and Wright would go on to form the group that grew into the popular Houston-based Texas string-band, The Recollection. The project stayed true to its Texas roots, with Thurmond and Woodring writing songs mostly on Texas themes, about everything from Willie Nelson to Bluebonnets. Performing their original songs, using traditional bluegrass instruments makes for a high energy, foot stomping, good-ole Texas time. In 2017, they released their first recording project, an EP titled “This Is Texgrass!”. In 2018, thanks to the direction of Grammy Award winning Producer, Lloyd Maines, they started working with Houston music icon, Jack Saunders on another recording project. In early 2019, they released a follow-up EP titled “True Texas True” which included guests such as Lloyd Maines, Tina Wilkins and Jack Saunders.
Thru the recording process for The Recollection’s project, Jack Saunders took Woodring under his wing and began to help him develop his solo-artist career. Saunders recognized his ability to write honest and relatable songs and became a fan of Woodring’s pure, powerful voice, suggesting it slots between the Georges – Strait and Jones.
2019 has quickly become a big year for Woodring, releasing albums both as a solo artist as well as with The Recollection. With a Full-Length album due out in the Fall, he continues to perform regularly, both locally and regionally, earning respect as a true Texas songwriter, and showcasing his voice that is as big as the state he calls home.
Founded in 2009, Austin-based Sour Bridges is a band that has turned into a tight-knit family. Established early on as a mainstay in Austin’s finest venues, the band has branched out in recent years to earn substantial airplay in the region and play roots music festivals UTOPiAfest, CMJ Music Marathon, SXSW, Daytrotter and more.
Self-dubbed browngrass – think bluegrass on steroids – Sour Bridges is inspired by greats like Gram Parsons, The Band and The Byrds. The funky, rock-inspired group’s distinct sound starts with a steady drumbeat, layers on bluegrass instrumentation – banjo, guitar, bass, and fiddle – and tops off with electric guitar, boots, and impressive harmonies.
Hailing from as far away as Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and other parts of Texas, members include Bill Pucci (vocals, banjo, guitar), Matt Pucci (vocals, mandolin, lead guitar), Kat “Mama Kat” Wilkes (fiddle), Dalton Chamblee (drums), and Jack Bridges (vocals, bass guitar).
“We all met on the frets in Austin, Texas,” summed Honesdale, Pennsylvania-native and founding member Bill Pucci, who moved to the music mecca in 2007 along with brother Matt. The two grew up picking bluegrass style with family, including a grandfather who played and built banjos.
Sour Bridges celebrates its third studio release, Sour Bridges (May 12, 2015). Produced at Austin’s Church House Studios, Bridges includes original songs – largely by Bill Pucci – that reflect on heartaches and hard times (“Dirt Poor”), greener pastures (“Fine Life,”) and picking yourself up again (“Carry On”). Previous albums include Catfish Charlie (2013) and the group’s 2010 debut, Workin’ On Leavin’.
In its music and its live shows, Sour Bridges members’ genuine love for playing and singing together comes through loud and clear. A college radio station, KTSW 89.9 compared the band to “your quirkiest, cutest, most musical talented friends showing up on your front porch to play some music.”
When Allen Hill, Houston’s Minister of Fun, enters a room, he brings the party with him — particularly with his world-renowned Allen Oldies Band, which has been covering tunes from the ’60s hit parade since 1996.
Now the unstoppable performer, whose ridiculously fun shows can run upward of five hours, is releasing his dream rock ’n’ roll record, “All Over the Map,” out Friday, September 6.
“I poured so much of myself into these tunes. It’s a radical shift,” says Hill, who sings and plays guitar, bass, piano, and surfboard on his debut solo disc. “Don’t worry, I’m still all about OLDIES FOREVER, but I am also having a blast pursuing a different artistic direction.”
Unlike the ’60s platters of The Allen Oldies Band, the new album’s 13 original tracks reflect a “1970s rock ’n’ roll roadhouse groove.” From the first single, the romping-and-rolling “2 Gigs and a 1 Way Ticket to Amsterdam,” to the dancing shoes-ready “Fanny Pack,” and the heartfelt “Fall Out of Love,” the album offers an eclectic mix honed by decades of exploring diverse styles. Given Hill’s musical history, the turn in direction makes sense.
Early on Allen, a voracious fan of The Who and other rock staples of ’70s FM radio, fronted a “super high-octane classic rock band,” whose setlist included tracks by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“I learned a lot through that band — about how to treat older material,” says Hill. “It was a key part of developing The Allen Oldies Band. When you sing songs that are part of people’s lives you have to mean it.”
Recording his own songs is unfamiliar territory for Hill, who has built his career playing hits popularized by others. “I’ve always loved performing great songs that move hips, heads, and hearts — whoever wrote them,” he says. “It took 30-plus years of pursuing my craft to get to the moment of creation.”
“2 Gigs and 1 Way Ticket to Amsterdam,” the first single, out Friday, August 2, was inspired by his two-month trip to Europe in the summer 2018. “There was nothing on the schedule, other than the gigs and seeing The Rolling Stones in Berlin” he says. “It was a totally magical trip and super necessary.”
He wrote the title and hook first. “Doug Sahm was great about writing tunes about cool locations — such as ‘Mendocino’ and ‘Meet Me in Stockholm’ — so I definitely jumped in with that approach,” he says. “Once I banged out the chorus on the guitar, the rest of the sections fell into place.”
You can’t resist boogying to the exuberant “Fanny Pack,” written in NOLA after a college pal’s days-long birthday bash. “It’s a back-to-school hit!” Hill declares. “It’s preposterous and funny.” And catchy too.
When it comes to teachers, Hill counts Sahm, Tommy Roe and The Who’s John Entwistle among them, even though he never worked with any of them. “You can have people whom you don’t know as your mentors,” he says. “John was a huge influence on my playing bass. Roe sparked a love for sparkly pop songs.”
“Sahm’s influence was his spirit,” says Hill, who does an annual tribute to Doug Sahm with his musical cohort David Beebe. “He played anything — jazz, tejano music, rock and roll. He was a musician’s musician.”
Hill has worked with many of the artists he admires as a back-up band. “I’ve learned so much about songwriting as part of The Allen Oldies Band and working with greats, like Chuck Berry, Archie Bell, Andre Williams, Wanda Jackson, Barbara Lynn and Roy Head, that I was finally ready to make the leap as an original artist” says Hill. Bell makes a guest appearance on the track, “Soul Travels.” “When he was in the studio, I couldn’t believe it.”
He didn’t have to leave his own Houston neighborhood to record “All Over the Map” — his friend and David Beebe’s brother, Paul Beebe owns Beebe Gunn Studio, nearby. “It was a blast bringing in great buddies and players like Pete Gordon, aka Polish Pete, on piano, and Jason Barker from Banana Blender Surprise on lead guitar to make it a celebration of the friendships we’ve all made through rock and roll,” says Hill. Banana Blender Surprise was a post-college, food-obsessed, original rock, blues, funk band that became a Texas cult fave. Other great buddies who play on the album include Eric C. Hughes, Landis Armstrong, and Jim Henkel from The Allen Oldies Band, vocal wizard Tomas Escalante, Felipe Galvan from Los Skarnales, and Matt Graham from Swimwear Department.
For more than two decades, The Allen Oldies Band has become a South by Southwest must-see. Since 2000, it’s opened Mojo Nixon’s annual daytime fest at the Continental Club, performing as fans scarfed down jalapeño pancakes at 9:30 a.m. In 2005, The Allen Oldies Band played a 5½-hour set at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. “Allen Hill…a dervish in constant motion, working the crowd and testifying to the power of old-time rock ’n’ roll to soothe your soul,” wrote The New York Times.
For the last seven years, Hill’s tooted the tuba with Polish Pete’s Polka Band, which, during World Series fever in 2017, released the “The Altuve Polka,” to honor the Houston Astros’ MVP second baseman Jose Altuve. After the Astros won the championship, more than one million polka-loving fans partied — and polka’d — to the song as the band played it from a float in the victory parade.
Hill isn’t just flipping the switch in music. After decades of playing surf tunes, he’s actually taken up surfing, as referenced in “Surfer’s Sunset,” taking lessons in Galveston, Texas.
“What’s the feeling of surfing and catching the last wave out?” he asks. “If you do it right, you get to ride on top of the world and how awesome is that?”
~ Mary Huhn ~
There’s something uniquely fun about Amy LaVere, even when she’s breaking your heart. She is well known among songwriters and critics alike. NPR’s Robert Siegel says she “specializes in lyrics that are more barbed than her sweet soprano prepares you for.” Her growing catalogue of material and steady critical acclaim suggest a first-tier presence on the Americana and indie-folk/punk circuits. Her latest album Painting Blue’ comes out August 16th on Nine Mile Records (Glorietta, David Wax Museum, Carson McHone, Patrick Sweany, Greyhounds).
Amy’s live performances are anything but predictable. She might appear on stage with a full band, sporting a mask and pink wig, or simply be a natural in blue jeans and sandals, but her upright bass and clever song delivery are constants. Her voice is at once the bully and the victim. She’s performed in venues as wide-ranging as St. Andrew’s Hall in London and Memphis’ famed dive bar Earnestine and Hazel’s. There’s no room she can’t find an audience in and charm it to pieces.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, this future bard moved continuously throughout childhood due to her father’s job. She spent notable parts of her life in Canada, Texas, Maryland, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan. Outside of Detroit and only just entering high school, Amy formed her first band and began writing and performing. Music fans first discovered this “sweet soprano” on This World is Not My Home in 2005, but it was her Jim Dickinson-produced breakout album Anchors & Anvils two years later that put Amy LaVere on the map. Stranger Me, the 2011 release on Archer Records, was called “the break-up album of the year” by Spin. Paste said it was “among the year’s best,” and it earned a first listen feature from NPR’s All Things Considered. She followed it in 2014 with another critical smash: Runaway’s Diary, a concept album based on her own experience as a teenage runaway, produced by Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars). American Songwriter called it “boundary pushing… heartfelt, reflective, challenging and consistently compelling.” NPR Music’s Robert Christgau said it was her best yet. Of Hallelujah I’m A Dreamer (Archer Records, 2015) No Depression said simply: “pure bliss.”
In addition to her solo records and a tireless touring schedule, Amy enjoys working with other artists. In 2012 she joined an all-star collaboration called The Wandering, composed of Amy, Luther Dickinson, Shannon McNally, Sharde Thomas and Valerie June. They released Go On Now, You Can’t Stay Here (Songs Of The South, 2012) to critical acclaim and sold-out shows.
In the afterglow of The Wandering, Amy and Shannon McNally hit the road together and released an EP titled Chasing the Ghost, The Rehearsal Sessions (Archer Records, 2012), featuring songs from both artists recorded live during rehearsals for the tour. Amy next paired up with noted Memphis rocker John Paul Keith to create Motel Mirrors. Their styles clearly complemented one another, which made for magic on stage and in the recording studio. Their eponymous vinyl EP release was named one of the “10 Essential Albums of 2013” by No Depression. In 2017 Motel Mirrors released a full length effort, In the Meantime; this record had the addition of some Will Sexton co-writes and his powerful guitar work throughout. Motel Mirrors later released a live recording, Gotta Lotta Rhythm, on the Italian label Wild Honey.
Painting Blue, produced by her husband Will Sexton, captures perfectly the moment that Amy is in. Will Sexton’s masterful production and Amy’s soft, clarinet-like vocal pour over you, pushing and pulling, stirring and calming. As we’ve come to expect, this record is honest, revealing and sounds uniquely like no one else.
Tutone is a passionate storyteller, songwriter, and poet whose creative energy has evolved beyond his rock star status. Capturing the reality of living in the moment, his songs are individual collages of his perception of his surroundings. Merging elements of rock and roll, country, rockabilly, and soul, Tutone offers a memorable album of what could very well be his finest work. The album features the single “Beautiful Ending”, as well as Tutone’s interpretation of the classic Jim Croce song, “Operator”.
“I feel in this album I have captured more of the real me and my alternate view of the world.
I can’t wait to see what people think of them.” Tommy Tutone
One of the most unique voices in music, Tutone rose to international prominence with the release of his 1982 album Tutoneg 2. Featuring the timeless classic Top Ten hit, “8675309 (Jenny)” Tutone solidified his standing as one of decade’s most recognizable artist’s. Tutone has gone onto sell millions of records worldwide while enjoying a career that continues to thrive.
“I don’t sing like anybody else; I sure don’t think like most people I know, and I hide out a lot, but at this point, I’m (finally) ready to go out and sing my stories to the whole world and show them the real Tommy Tutone.”
From July 24th-September 9th, Joe Medina (who performs and records under the moniker MERCH) will be traveling to record stores throughout the United States in support of MERCH’s current album ‘Amour Bohemian’. ‘Amour Bohemian’ has been out on vinyl through MERCH’s own imprint Sassafras Records for about a year and the cassette version of the release will be put out through record label Earth Libraries during the tour.
‘Amour Bohemian’ is a startling album in its scope and features contributions from upwards of 65 people in order to bring to life Medina’s vision. Those contributors include the Prague FILMharmonic Orchestra (known for working with people like Quentin Tarantino, Werner Herzog, Adele, and The Arcade Fire–Medina even went to Prague to work with them), members of The Growlers, Oh Sees, and Blank Tapes, a full Latin jazz band, opera singers, and so many more.
For this record store tour, Medina will be making this a solo outing–doing vocals and guitar while the orchestral tracks from the album are triggered from an analog reel to reel. Fans of the time-honored sounds of folks like Lee Hazlewood, Scott Walker, Leonard Cohen, Ennio Morricone, Burt Bacharach, psych-rock, classic crooners, ELO, Magnetic Fields, Spiritualized, Procol Harum, and Love will find plenty to latch onto in the sounds of ‘Amour Bohemian’ as will fans of more recent luminaries like Weyes Blood, Ariel Pink, Drugdealer, and Tame Impala.
Press for ‘Amour Bohemian’ has been rapturous and it has received over-the-top notice in everything from Popmatters to PASTE. Even before its release, John Dwyer of Oh Sees renown said “Amour Bohemian is a ren-rock masterpiece. Pretty much all you could want from a deep album.” Upon its release to the public, The Vinyl District gave it a rare A- rating saying “A whole lot of new music is getting pressed onto vinyl these days, but little of it radiates like a nugget from the heyday of the long-playing record quite like this specimen, while still connecting as contemporary. Anyone interested in the possibilities of symphonic pop and classically-minded songwriting shouldn’t sleep on Amour Bohemian.”
After the completion of all performance and press obligations around this U.S. record store tour, Medina will be taking the songs of ‘Amour Bohemian’ for a tour of stores in the U.K/Europe. He will then work on the writing of a follow-up EP in Budapest and then, ultimately, get to work rehearsing with a full band to bring MERCH’s cinematic, grand-scale sounds to festival audiences next year.