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RSD EVENT #6 – JASON EADY

 

Jason Eady’s inspired new album Daylight & Dark embraces multiple styles of die-hard country music to weave together 11 songs about the deep, messy details of love and life.

The disc is sequenced to follow the arc of one man’s journey through the complexities of the heart. But the semi-autobiographical Daylight & Dark is not a concept album. Instead, it’s a powerful study in honesty; a collection of real stories populated by real characters that coalesced around Eady’s title track.

“The moment I came up with the first verse and chorus of ‘Daylight & Dark’ was a breakthrough,” Eady relates. “I understood that what I wanted to convey in the album is that life is not simple. Most songs don’t do that. They’re either happy or sad. But life doesn’t work that way. Most of the time we live somewhere in between. And that place is between the daylight and the dark.”

It took roughly three months for Eady to write and begin recording these songs that he describes as “going beyond the surface and digging into the little cracks in our lives, our dreams and our desires — the things that keep us from connecting, that we all have to deal with, all the time.”

Eady’s sixth release is the follow-up to 2012’s AM Country Heaven, an artistic and commercial breakthrough that cracked the Top 40 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart, boasting an old-school honky-tonk sound and a complete lack of artifice.

“One of the things that Kevin Welch” — who produced both discs — “taught me is that believability is number one,” Eady declares. “The things I’m writing about have to seem true and the words being said need to sound like they’d really come out of my mouth.”

Daylight & Dark’s high-powered barroom ballads ‘OK Whiskey’ and ‘We Might Just Miss Each Other’ offer a direct connection to the honky-tonk spirit of AM Country Heaven. But tunes like ‘Other Side of Abilene’ have gentler, textured arrangements, crafted by carefully layered fiddle and electric, acoustic and pedal steel guitars that are more reflective of the album’s overall sound. Also, ‘Late Night Diner’ and the title cut echo the narrative style of great singers like Vern Gosdin and Don Williams, whose recordings, like Eady’s, blend a novelist’s eye for detail with the welcoming voice of a natural storyteller.

“Their approach and the roadhouse style of artists like Merle Haggard and Buck Owens are both part of my DNA,” Eady relates. “I hope that really comes across on Daylight & Dark and makes it a deeper country music album overall.”

The new disc is Eady’s third collaboration with Welch. Their first was 2009’s When the Money’s All Gone.

“Kevin is more on the same page with me than anybody else,” Eady says of his songwriting, performing and Americana Music Association award-winning Texas compatriot. “He is fantastic at getting the songs into the best shape before we record them and choosing the right band for the studio, so that by the time we start recording 90-percent of the important work is done.”

When Eady and Welch were making AM Country Heaven, it was initially intended as a side project that wouldn’t be released under Eady’s name. But the sterling results dictated otherwise, and made the album a game-changer. The disc’s swaggering palette and adult approach to timeless topics like love, loss and yearning helped Eady find a new, larger audience whose members now welcome him wherever he travels.

Daylight & Dark was cut just outside of Nashville at engineer George Bradfute’s Tone Chaparral studio with a superb team of players. They included Americana award winning multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin on pedal steel and fiddle, guitarist Richard Bennett (who’s worked with a diverse array of artists from Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris to Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond), drummer John Gardner (Jim Lauderdale, Don Williams, Dixie Chicks) and bassist Steve Mackey (Dolly Parton, Delbert McClinton).

Although country music was Eady’s first love, he was exposed to the musical stew of the lower Delta — blues, soul, R&B and primal swamp rock — while growing up in Jackson, Mississippi. Eady was performing in local bars by the time he was 14, singing and playing guitar. He began writing his own songs, but the live music culture in the Magnolia State was geared to hits and classics rather than original music.

Eady moved to Nashville to seek a record deal, but he became disillusioned and headed back to Mississippi, joining the Air Force on the way home. “Becoming a translator in the Air Force helped me be a better songwriter,” Eady says. “I got a much broader view of the world and of other cultures, which helped me see things from a better perspective.” After the military Eady got a job in a Fort Worth bank’s IT department, and he began attending open mic nights to blow off steam. Soon he developed a following.

“I was surprised to learn that Texas was exactly the opposite of Mississippi,” he says. “If you played too many cover songs the audience would get restless. They wanted original music.” That encouraged Eady to step up his songwriting and step away from his day job, never to return.

Eady says his first two albums, 2005’s From Underneath the Old and 2007’s Wild Eyed Serenade, “were about trying to zero in on what I wanted to do. They had singer-songwriter, country, southern rock and other kinds of songs. I had no idea about production or how to work in the studio. I was all over the map. Things really clicked when I started working with Kevin. He helped me focus on the music I heard growing up in Mississippi, but as a way of discovering more about who I was as an artist.

“With AM County Heaven and now Daylight & Dark, I’ve learned to stop second guessing,” Eady declares. “Now I understand that I’m a country artist. That’s the music I love, and that’s what I always want to be.”

RSD EVENT #3 – MANDOLIN ORANGE – 2 PM

Lean in to Mandolin Orange’s new album, Blindfaller, and it’s bound to happen. You’ll suddenly pick up on the power and devastation lurking in its quietude, the doom hiding beneath its unvarnished beauty. You’ll hear the way it magnifies the intimacy at the heart of the North Carolina duo’s music, as if they created their own musical language as they recorded it.

“We talked about the feel of each song and pointed out loosely who was going to be taking solos, but it was mostly a lot of fresh takes, a lot of eye contact, and a lot of nods and weird winks,” says Andrew Marlin, who anchors the band with fellow multi-instrumentalist and singer Emily Frantz.

Due Sept. 30 on Yep Roc Records, Blindfaller builds on the acclaim of Mandolin Orange’s breakthrough debut on the label, 2013’s This Side of Jordan, and its follow-up, last year’s Such Jubilee.

Since then they’ve steadily picked up speed and fans they’ve earned from long stretches on the road, including appearances at Austin City Limits, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Newport Folk Festival, and Pickathon. It’s been an auspicious journey for a pair who casually met at a bluegrass jam session in 2009.

As the duo’s songwriter, Marlin sharpens his lyrical prowess here, touching on broad themes of growing older and feeling helpless in a world torn by injustice. Sure, the album sounds classic, but it is rooted in the here and now of our daily headlines.

Take “Gospel Shoes,” a gimlet-eyed critique of how politicians have used faith as a weapon. “Freedom was a simple word, so reverent and true/ A long time ago, it meant the right to choose/ Who you love and how to live, but now it’s so misused/ And twisted by the politics of men in gospel shoes,” Marlin sings.

“When we finished ‘Such Jubilee,’ I started writing these songs with a different goal in mind. I thought about how I would write songs for somebody else to record,” Marlin explains. “I ended up with a bunch of songs like that, but we chose ones that I still felt personally connected to.”

“We really chose everybody who played on the record, because we trusted them,” he adds.

They found kindred spirits in Clint Mullican on bass, Kyle Keegan on drums, Allyn Love on pedal steel, and previous collaborator, Josh Oliver, on guitar, keys and vocals.

“We’ve always liked to record fairly live,” Frantz says, “and it’s pretty easy to do that when it’s just Andrew and me. So it was fun to hone in on the guys who played on this record.“We really jelled as soon as we got into the studio, and everyone’s playing was driven by intuition instead of details orchestrated in advance.”

Holed up at the Rubber Room studio in Chapel Hill, N.C., they laid down the tracks in a week between touring. They’ve always been keen on the notion that drawn-out recording sessions don’t necessarily yield better results. A good song, and just one good take, will always shine through any studio sorcery.

For Frantz, Blindfaller, which Mandolin Orange produced, was something of a turning point.

“Now that we’ve put out quite a few records and toured so much, I think a standard has been set and people expect a certain thing,” she says. “But you don’t want to get into a place where you’re just making the music you’re expected to make. You have to push yourself a little bit.”

The passage of time, and the regret that often accompanies it, courses through these songs. “When did all the good times turn to hard lines on my face/ And lead me so far from my place right by your side?” Marlin ruminates on “My Blinded Heart.”

In fact, there’s heartache by the numbers on Blindfaller. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear “Picking Up Pieces” is a tearjerker George Jones or Willie Nelson sang back in the early 1970s. It’s a Mandolin Orange original, of course, and also a poignant reminder of the economy and grace with which Marlin imbues his songs – say what’s important and scrap the rest.

A country dirge with soulful washes of pedal steel and mandolin, “Wildfire” details the the lingering, present-day devastation of slavery and the Civil War, with Marlin’s voice locking into close harmonies with Frantz on the chorus. “Take This Heart of Gold” opens with perhaps the best classic-country line you’ll hear all year: “Take this heart of gold and melt it down.” (Marlin admits it was inspired by a Tom Waits lyric he misheard.)

But there’s also room for detours. Straight out of a honky tonk, “Hard Travelin’” lets the band shift into overdrive. A freewheeling ode to life on the road, it had been kicking around for a while but never fit on previous releases.

As for the album title, it’s meant to evoke a sense of wonder, of contemplation. A “faller” is someone who fells trees, and in this case that person is blind to his/her own actions and those of the world. The spectral cover photo, by Scott McCormick, is open to interpretation, too: Either those trees are engulfed in flames or sunlight is pouring through them. It’s up to you.

“We wanted different vibes and different intuitions on these tracks,” Marlin says, “and I feel like we really captured that.”

CJ RAMONE – WEDNESDAY, 4/19 @ 6:30PM

CHRISTOPHER JOSEPH WARD, BETTER KNOWN AS “CJ RAMONE,” IS AN AMERICAN MUSICIAN BEST KNOWN AS THE BASSIST FOR THE PUNK ROCK GROUP THE RAMONES FROM 1989 TO 1996.

HIS HOMETOWN IS DEER PARK, NEW YORK. HE REPLACED ORIGINAL BAND-MEMBER DEE DEE RAMONE, THOUGH DEE DEE CONTINUED TO WRITE SONGS FOR THE GROUP. CJ SANG MANY WELL-KNOWN RAMONES SONGS.

PRIOR TO JONING THE BAND, CJ WAS A MARINE AND A RAMONES FAN. HE WAS SEEN AS A BREATH OF FRESH AIR INTO THE BAND. JOHNNY RAMONE CLAIMED HE KNEW IMMEDIATELY WHEN CJ AUDITIONED TO REPLACE DEE DEE THAT HE WAS RIGHT; COMMENTING THAT CJ “HAD THE RIGHT LOOK.” WHEN THE RAMONES WERE INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME, ORIGINAL RAMONES DRUMMER TOMMY RAMONE CREDITED CJ WITH “KEEPING THE BAND YOUNG.” CJ RAMONE WAS THE YOUNGEST MEMBER WHEN HE JOINED BY 9 YEARS. CJ’S FIRST SHOW WITH THE RAMONES WAS ON SEPTEMBER 30, 1989, IN LEICESTER, ENGLAND, AND HE PLAYED WITH THE BAND UNTIL THEY RETIRED ON AUGUST 6, 1996.

AFTER THE RAMONES, HE PLAYED IN A BAND CALLED THE REMAINS, OR THE REMAINZ, WHICH WAS FORMED BY DEE DEE RAMONE, MARKY RAMONE, AND DEE DEE’S WIFE, BARBARA ZAMPINI (BARBARA RAMONE). HE ALSO PLAYED WITH HIS OWN BANDS LOS GUSANOS AND BAD CHOPPER. HE NOW TOURS ON HIS OWN AS CJ RAMONE WITH HIS FIRST SOLO ALBUM – RECONQUISTA.

CJ LIVES WITH HIS WIFE AND THREE KIDS. CJ IS ACTIVE WITH THE AUTISM COMMUNITY BECAUSE HIS SON HAS AUTISM. HE ALSO VOLUNTEERS HIS TIME AS A GUEST TEACHER AT THE SCHOOL OF ROCK IN FARMINGDALE, NEW YORK.

DRUGSTORE GYPSIES – SATURDAY, 5/27 @ 1:00PM

These guys might just be the most rock ‘ n’ roll rock ‘ n’ roll band in America.

In an industry beset by guarded calculation and repressive risk-avoidance, this band goes “all in” with every bet they make. Their infectious self-confidence permeates their music and fuels their road-hardened lifestyle. When they roll into your town you’ d best be prepared. They’ re the bull in the china shop. The hair of the dog. The storm after the calm.

They are…The Drugstore Gypsies.

Drawing on distinctively Southern influences like Blackberry Smoke, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, and The Black Crowes, The Drugstore Gypsies also combine many of the sensibilities of worldwide riff rock heroes like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. You don’ t fly that flag in 2016 because of focus testing or market research. It’ s got to be who you are!

Founded in 2014 by wildly entertaining frontman Duke Ryan and guitar extraordinaire Dillan Dostal, the band quickly locked in on the right duo in the rhythm section, adding drummer Rey Chapa and bassist Korey Davis. The Gypsies have already played in excess of 200 shows throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, and have recently added John Wilson to play Hammond organ and rhythm guitar, completing the band’ s classic Southern sound.

In mid-2015 the band attracted the attention of Edgewater Music Group, a Sony/RED distributed music production, artist management, and music distribution company based in Houston. The band arrived at Edgewater Studios in December of that year to begin work on their self-titled, debut album. The record features a dynamic body of rip-roaring rock ‘ n roll from start to finish.

Songs like “Black Label Boogie”and “Show Up Show Down” highlight the band’ s wall of guitar-laden power. “Breakin The Law,”“Drugstore Gypsy,”and “Live The Life” are loads of fun and feature a three-piece horn section backing the band’ s enigmatic sound. “Running To”and “Indian Summer” trend into organic Americana rock.

“The Drugstore Gypsies” explores what it means to be an impetuous young American male living life to the fullest in the heart of the South. Tales of humorous conquest blend into battles with burgeoning demons. Stories of love and betrayal lay bare the band’ s undeniable maturity as writers, hidden just beneath a convincing veneer of youth and bravado.

This is a band people will make movies about. In fact, you’ d be hard-pressed to craft a more captivating story for a morecompelling cast of characters in a Hollywood writer’ s room. In their own words, they are intent on to bringing to you, “Some of the greatest music of the modern day!” Experience a Gypsies’ show and you’ ll be consumed by their irrepressible enthusiasm and innate humor. Know them and succumb to their down-home charm. They are intent on taking their rightful place in the annals of rock ‘ n’ roll history, side-by-side with all the great American rock bands who have come before. Treasure their record and bear witness to their rise. What’ s their ultimate destiny?

THE MASTERSONS – SUNDAY, 5/21 @ 3:00PM

Don’t bother asking The Mastersons where they’re from. Brooklyn, Austin, Los Angeles, Terlingua; they’ve called each home in just the last few years alone. If you really want to get to know this husband-and-wife duo, the better question to ask is where they’re going. Perhaps more than any other band playing today, The Mastersons live on the road, perpetually in motion and always creating. Movement is their muse. On tour, in the unpredictable adventures and characters they cross, in the endless blur of skylines and rest stops and dressing rooms and hotels, that’s where they find their greatest inspiration, where they hone their art, and where they crafted their brilliant new album, Transient Lullaby.

“When you travel like we do, if your antenna is up, there’s always something going on around you,” reflects guitarist/singer Chris Masterson. “Ideas can be found everywhere. The hardest thing to find is time.”

For the last seven years, The Mastersons have kept up a supremely inexorable touring schedule, performing as both the openers for Steve Earle and as members of his band, The Dukes, in addition to playing their own relentless slate of headline shows and festivals. It was Earle, in fact, who pushed the duo to record their acclaimed debut, Birds Fly South, in the first place.

“Before we hit the road with him in 2010, Steve said, ‘You’d better have a record ready because I’m going to feature you guys during the show,'” remembers fiddler/tenor guitarist/singer Eleanor Whitmore. “We didn’t even have a band name at the time. We were going through all these ideas and Steve suggested, ‘Why don’t you just be The Mastersons, and that was that.”

Upon its release in 2012, Birds Fly South was a breakout critical hit on both sides of the pond, with Uncut awarding the album 9/10 stars and Esquire dubbing The Mastersons one of the “Bands You Need To Know Right Now”. Two years later, they followed it up with Good Luck Charm, premiered by the NY Times and praised by Mother Jones for its “big-hearted lyrics, tight song structures, and sweetly intertwined harmonies.” Pop Matters ranked it “among the top Americana releases of 2014,” while American Songwriter called it “a perfect soundtrack for a summer of warm nights and hot, lazy days,” and the Austin Chronicle praised the band’s “spunky wit and rare measure of emotional maturity.” The album earned The Mastersons slots on NPR’s Mountain Stage and at festivals around the world, from San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to Australia’s Byron Bay Bluesfest.

With endless touring came new levels of comfort and confidence, and when it was time to record Transient Lullaby, The Mastersons knew they wanted to take a different approach than their first two releases. The band set up shop at Arlyn Studios in Austin, TX, where Chris shared production duties with longtime friend and collaborator George Reiff (Ray Wylie Hubbard, Band of Heathens). Together, they chased a sound that was subtler and more evocative, deeper and more contemplative.

“A lot of what we listen to when we have some rare time off is what we consider late night music,” explains Chris, who previously played guitar with Son Volt and Jack Ingram among others. “The last record was bright and jangly and we wanted this one to be vibey and dark. A lot of the stuff is very performance-based and not at all fussed with. We’ve grown so much more comfortable in our skin that we really weren’t trying to sound like anyone other than ourselves this time around.”

“We’ve had a lot of time and a lot of miles to refine our sound and our style of singing,” adds Eleanor, whose resume includes work with Regina Spektor and Angus & Julia Stone. “I think the depth of our songwriting has really grown, too. Part of the time we’re writing on a tour bus with Steve Earle, and the bar for poetry is pretty high when you’re within earshot of one of the greatest songwriters alive.”

Rich with Eleanor’s stirring string arrangements and Chris’s masterful guitar work, the songs on Transient Lullaby more than live up to the challenge. The album opens with “Perfect,” a loping duet written partially in Washington, DC, and partially in Newcastle, England, that paints a portrait of two broken lovers who still manage to find a strange optimism in this challenging world. Spare and affecting, the song puts the spotlight on the duo’s intoxicating vocal harmonies and makes for an ideal entry point into an album full of characters facing down difficulty and darkness with all the grit and humility they can muster. “Fight,” written in a downtown Cleveland hotel, is a wry wink at the battlefield of marriage (“I don’t wanna fight with anyone else but you”), while the fingerpicked “Highway 1” twists and turns on a California road trip through an emotional breakup.

“Life’s not easy,” reflects Chris. “It’s hard for everybody, and I don’t see it getting any easier. All you can hope for yourself is grace when walking through it, and someone to prop you up when you need a little help.”

Though it’s a deeply personal album, Transient Lullaby is not without its political moments. The Mastersons found themselves on tour in Lexington, KY, during the height of Kim Davis’ obstinate stand against the Supreme Court’s same sex marriage decision, and so they penned the infectious “You Could Be Wrong” in a dressing room before taking the stage with “Love Wins” draped across their guitars. “This Isn’t How It Was Supposed To Go”—a cosmic country duet written in Cologne, Germany—has taken on new layers of political meaning in 2017, while “Don’t Tell Me To Smile” is a tongue-in-cheek feminist anthem, and the gorgeous, slow-burning “Fire Escape”—which came to life in a hockey rink locker room in Alberta, Canada—suggests that the only solution to a polarized world of fear and distrust is to find strength and guidance in our loved ones.

“As we look at the world political landscape, global warming, a refugee crisis and the uncertain times we’re all living in, rather than lose hope, we look to each other,” Chris says. “It’s a little brighter than Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but not much.”

Ultimately, the road is at the core of everything The Mastersons do. “Happy When I’m Movin'” reflects their constant need for forward momentum, both physically and emotionally, and the title track paints the pair as “pilgrims of the interstate” on an endless voyage. “No I don’t unpack my bag / Traveling from town to town,” they sing in beautiful harmony. “Set ’em up and knock ’em down / Where there’s work and songs to sing / You’ll know the place where I’ll be found / If you don’t want to be alone / Then come along.”

For The Mastersons, all that matters is where they’re headed, and the songs they’ll write when they get there.

JON STORK – SATURDAY, 5/20 @ 1:00PM

Growing up outside of Houston, TX, Jon quickly took to the basics of music by being surrounded by a musical family. The family was always the toughest critic, but after teaching himself how to play guitar, Jon began to write his own music and perform in his small-town church. The time spent serving the Lord through song sparked a connection of Jon and relaying a message through lyrics and voice. He earned a deep respect for music, musicians, and writers and eventually became driven by his interest in the Texas Red Dirt style music. Jon’s soulful vocals leaned more towards deep southern gospel than most in the scene, but shortly after getting his foot in the door of a few venues, he has continually stayed busy through a reputation for quality performances. His shows have continued to display a talent that can only be described as raw emotion permeating through every song he sings and has created a demand for an original recording of his own. Jon teamed up with Houston producer Stormy Cooper and completed a size song album to be released in the spring of 2017. Jon now calls Houston home and a good place to work on his music full time after deciding the land of corporate opportunity was not for his kinda. He is currently booking and planning promotions of his debut album “In Your Radio.”

I have been extraordinarily blessed with the experiences and people I’ve met, allowing me to write my experiences and thoughts. If I have connected with someone even online, in any one of these songs, I would have done something right. I hope you enjoy, and I hope you know how much I thank you. I give you, my debut – “In Your Radio” – Jon

TREMOLOCO – TUESDAY, 4/25 @ 5:30PM

Tremoloco is an eclectic roots band who have been described as Sonoran Gothic Folk, Gulf Coast roots and Mexican Americana. Blending Mexican music with Roots/Country music is no easy task. It certainly helps that they are well versed in several styles including Folk, Country, Honky Tonk, Tex-Mex, Rancheros, Cumbias and Zydeco all the while writing and performing original songs in both English and Spanish.

A stellar line up of musicians occupy all of Tremoloco’s recordings and have included David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Dave Alvin, Cindy Cashdollar, Red Volkaert, Little Willie G., Ian McLagan and War to name a few.

Their 4th release “Deseo” available as of April 2017 continues in this tradition with another stellar version of the band including alumni of Leonard Cohen, Dolly Parton, Freddy fender, Keith Richards, Shelby Lynne, Dave Alvin, Dwight Yoakam and Billy Joe Shaver among many others.

Their live shows have been well received where they’ve won fans from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast including Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana, from Mexico to Washington state and up through Canada where they’re loved by old and young alike. They’ve participated in music workshops, hosted roots music TV shows, have done numerous in-store and in-studio radio appearances”.

LEOPOLD AND HIS FICTION – MONDAY, 4/24 @ 5:30PM

Naked, stripped down and aching with adrenaline is the rawness of Leopold and his Fiction. Originally formed as an outlet for Daniel James Leopold to exercise his lessons from his formative years in Detroit, the seminal force of Leopold and his Fiction is the catalyst for soul-drenched, bare-bones rock ‘n’ roll that shakes with the power of ’73-era Stooges while seducing with the rhythm and blues of Motown. “The band elicits a power when it’s time to perform that is unable to be harnessed in any other medium short of a fist fight,” says Leopold. “Whether that’s on stage or in a recording studio it’s almost hard to contain it. It’s more life than I’ve ever felt before.”

Leopold and his Fiction have been working with GRAMMY®–nominated producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith (The Datsuns, Slayer, Jet, The Dandy Warhols, etc.) in recording and capturing a captivating musical journey that is as relentless as it is inspiring. “Frenchie saw our show and listened to our records,” says James. “He was very blunt and said, ‘I’m confidant I can make you guys shine!’ He brought a lot out of me and the band. The energy was very positive and the songs are confident, edgy and packed with emotion.” Amidst the band’s hook-filled party rock, Leopold is also able to refine his more melodic Neil Young / Jackson Browne side.

The next Leopold and his Fiction album promises a full pallet of artistry from America’s deep, dark underbelly and rootsy fabric to a revival of an R&B, backwoods charm. It goes back to the days when Motown and Stax loaded singles with a shaking groove on the A-side with B-side ballads clearly as comfortable in the same skin.

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