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pittsburgh, pa
Kelsey Waldon with Special Guest The Beagle Brothers

Thinking about country music, Kelsey Waldon muses, "If it's a part of who you are, it's a part of who you are." And country music is very much a part of who she is, a part of who she's always been. The Kentucky singer/songwriter hails from Monkey's Eyebrow, in rural Ballard County where her family put down roots several generations ago. Even so, Waldon's musical tastes reach well beyond those borders, as evidenced on her new release, I've Got a Way.

Waldon was 13 when her parents divorced and, inspired by the music surrounding her, she started playing guitar as a means to make it through her teen years. Upon her arrival in Music City a few years later, Waldon toiled away 45+ hours a week in a minimum wage job and played gigs in any bar that would let her in the door and on the stage. Once she had a pocket full of songs, she released her debut album in 2014, The Goldmine. The set was met with open arms from both critics and lovers of the kind of country music that she makes -- the kind born in bars and raised in honky-tonks, the kind leaning on pedal steel and driven by Telecaster.

As solid as the effort was, its follow-up isn't just a next step, it's a forward leap. After all, when you're a songwriter, a couple of years can contain a lifetime of lessons. And that wisdom is what seeps through on her sophomore effort which, like The Goldmine, was produced by Michael Rinne. For Waldon, "It's a transition in letting go and also being absolutely comfortable in your own skin."

Indeed, the newfound confidence and compassion with which she inhabits her place in the world comes through loud and clear on original cuts like "All by Myself," "Don't Hurt the Ones (Who've Loved You the Most)," and "Life Moves Slow," as well as her arrangements of Vern and Rex Gosdin's "There Must Be a Someone" and Bill Monroe's "Traveling Down This Lonesome Road.

Perhaps because it was one of the first songs Waldon wrote this go-around,"All By Myself," in particular, stands out as something of a thesis statement for the rest of the album, if not for life, in general. As she explains, "It is not a lecture, or a sermon, or a statement from me. I want it to be a statement for everyone, as a whole: The power is only inside of ourselves."

Because no country record would be complete without a proper kiss-off cut, Waldon scratched out her own entry in that milieu with "You Can Have It." That kind of personal empowerment comes up time and again across I've Got a Way. In "Let's Pretend," that power emerges through the act of focusing on the good and choosing the kind as part of what Waldom describes as "a 'Storms Never Last' mentality" to relationships.

Closing the collection are "Traveling Down This Lonesome Road," which stands as her hard-edged hat tip to Bill Monroe and the music she grew up on, and "The Heartbreak," which shows she can deliver a weeper, to boot. But this isn't the standard woe-is-me fare. Here, too, is a message of empowerment and empathy.

So, how does Waldon turn her messages into the country music that is so much a part of her? "Lay it all out, and sing it from the heart, way down deep," she says. "If you do it that way, you don't need gimmicks."

Thinking about country music, Kelsey Waldon muses, "If it's a part of who you are, it's a part of who you are." And country music is very much a part of who she is, a part of who she's always been. The Kentucky singer/songwriter hails from Monkey's Eyebrow, in rural Ballard County where her family put down roots several generations ago. Even so, Waldon's musical tastes reach well beyond those borders, as evidenced on her new release, I've Got a Way.

Waldon was 13 when her parents divorced and, inspired by the music surrounding her, she started playing guitar as a means to make it through her teen years. Upon her arrival in Music City a few years later, Waldon toiled away 45+ hours a week in a minimum wage job and played gigs in any bar that would let her in the door and on the stage. Once she had a pocket full of songs, she released her debut album in 2014, The Goldmine. The set was met with open arms from both critics and lovers of the kind of country music that she makes -- the kind born in bars and raised in honky-tonks, the kind leaning on pedal steel and driven by Telecaster.

As solid as the effort was, its follow-up isn't just a next step, it's a forward leap. After all, when you're a songwriter, a couple of years can contain a lifetime of lessons. And that wisdom is what seeps through on her sophomore effort which, like The Goldmine, was produced by Michael Rinne. For Waldon, "It's a transition in letting go and also being absolutely comfortable in your own skin."

Indeed, the newfound confidence and compassion with which she inhabits her place in the world comes through loud and clear on original cuts like "All by Myself," "Don't Hurt the Ones (Who've Loved You the Most)," and "Life Moves Slow," as well as her arrangements of Vern and Rex Gosdin's "There Must Be a Someone" and Bill Monroe's "Traveling Down This Lonesome Road.

Perhaps because it was one of the first songs Waldon wrote this go-around,"All By Myself," in particular, stands out as something of a thesis statement for the rest of the album, if not for life, in general. As she explains, "It is not a lecture, or a sermon, or a statement from me. I want it to be a statement for everyone, as a whole: The power is only inside of ourselves."

Because no country record would be complete without a proper kiss-off cut, Waldon scratched out her own entry in that milieu with "You Can Have It." That kind of personal empowerment comes up time and again across I've Got a Way. In "Let's Pretend," that power emerges through the act of focusing on the good and choosing the kind as part of what Waldom describes as "a 'Storms Never Last' mentality" to relationships.

Closing the collection are "Traveling Down This Lonesome Road," which stands as her hard-edged hat tip to Bill Monroe and the music she grew up on, and "The Heartbreak," which shows she can deliver a weeper, to boot. But this isn't the standard woe-is-me fare. Here, too, is a message of empowerment and empathy.

So, how does Waldon turn her messages into the country music that is so much a part of her? "Lay it all out, and sing it from the heart, way down deep," she says. "If you do it that way, you don't need gimmicks."

Mobley with Special Guest Johnny Walylko

Cutting vocals in the woods behind his college dorm. Mixing in the backseat of a sedan. Sneaking into the music department after hours to teach himself to play new instruments (and sneaking out before the faculty arrived in the morning). From the start, Mobley's work has been marked by solitude, ingenuity, and a drive that could only be called obsessive. Whether you experience his music on record or at one of his live shows (on stage, he's electric), the passion is palpable. Mobley grew up all over the world, from the Spanish Mediterranean to the California coast. Perhaps it's because of this itinerant childhood that he finds it so hard to sit still.
Over the last few years, he's composed dozens of pieces for stage and television, played 150+ national tour dates (with the likes of JUNGLE, Mutemath, & Wavves and at festivals like Savannah Stopover and Float Fest), and recorded (then scrapped) two whole albums in pursuit of the songs that would become his forthcoming full-length debut, Fresh Lies. The album, on which Mobley plays every instrument, defies easy classification, drawing liberally (often simultaneously) from indie rock, R&B, and pop sensibilities. He's equally at home on a playlist next to The Weeknd and TV on the Radio alike, while his electronic, dub-dabbling production style calls to mind the intricate work of artists like James Blake and Thom Yorke.

Cutting vocals in the woods behind his college dorm. Mixing in the backseat of a sedan. Sneaking into the music department after hours to teach himself to play new instruments (and sneaking out before the faculty arrived in the morning). From the start, Mobley's work has been marked by solitude, ingenuity, and a drive that could only be called obsessive. Whether you experience his music on record or at one of his live shows (on stage, he's electric), the passion is palpable. Mobley grew up all over the world, from the Spanish Mediterranean to the California coast. Perhaps it's because of this itinerant childhood that he finds it so hard to sit still.
Over the last few years, he's composed dozens of pieces for stage and television, played 150+ national tour dates (with the likes of JUNGLE, Mutemath, & Wavves and at festivals like Savannah Stopover and Float Fest), and recorded (then scrapped) two whole albums in pursuit of the songs that would become his forthcoming full-length debut, Fresh Lies. The album, on which Mobley plays every instrument, defies easy classification, drawing liberally (often simultaneously) from indie rock, R&B, and pop sensibilities. He's equally at home on a playlist next to The Weeknd and TV on the Radio alike, while his electronic, dub-dabbling production style calls to mind the intricate work of artists like James Blake and Thom Yorke.

Charlie Parr with Special Guest Dan Petrich

Fans who have been following Charlie Parr through his previous 13 full-length albums and decades of nonstop touring already know that the Duluth-based songwriter has a way of carving a path straight to the gut. On his newest record, Dog, however, he seems to be digging deeper and hitting those nerves quicker than ever before.
"I want my son to have this when I'm gone," Charlie sings not 10 seconds into the opening song on Dog, "Hobo." His voice sounds weary but insistent, his accompaniment sparse and sorrowful. By the second line, the listener has no choice but to be transported on a journey through the burrows of his troubled mind, following him through shadowy twists and turns as he searches for a way out.
It turns out Charlie's been grappling with quite a bit over these past few years. As he prepares to release his new album on Red House Records this fall, he's just as candid about discussing his experiences in
person as he is while singing on the heat-rending Dog.
"I had some really, really bad depression problems over the last couple years," Charlie explains. "I've been trying to get fit, trying not to drink so much, trying not to do the rock 'n' roll guy thing. And then I got depressed. Really depressed. And to me, depression feels like there's me, and then there's this kind of hazy fog of rancid jello all around me, that you can't feel your way out of. And then there's this really, really horrible third thing, this impulsive thing, that doesn't feel like it's me or my depression. It feels like it's coming from outside somewhere. And it's the thing that comes on you all of a sudden, and it's the voice of suicide, it's the voice of ‘quit.'"

"These songs have all kind of come out of that. Especially songs like ‘Salt Water' and ‘Dog,' they really came heavily out of just being depressed, and having to say something about it."

Sometimes I'm alright
Other times it's hard to tell
Like finding light in the bottom of the darkest well
- "Sometimes I'm Alright"
In the album's quieter moments, Charlie confronts these issues head-on, using only an acoustic guitar or banjo to light the way. But the incredible thing about Dog is that it digs into dark matter and contemplates serious topics like mental illness and mortality while embracing a pulse of persistence and forward motion; throughout the album, more and more musicians seem to be joining in the fray as the tempo builds, keeping the overall vibe upbeat.
"I was going to do it completely solo," Charlie says. "I was going to go to this barn in Wisconsin, sit there and play my songs. And I was practicing them and I thought, this is devastating. These songs are hard to
hear in this format. I would never be able to listen to them again. And then my friend Tom Herbers, he
saw something was wrong. We talked, booked time at Creation" Audio, and made a plan to flesh out the album with a backing band.

So Charlie called on some longtime friends who he's collaborated with throughout his career: the experimental folk artist Jeff Mitchell, percussionist Mikkel Beckman, harmonica player Dave Hundreiser, and bassist Liz Draper, who traded her typical upright bass in for an electric at Charlie's request. The group found an instant chemistry in the studio, capturing some of the tracks on the first take.
"I wrote all the lyrics on these giant pieces of paper, and I had highlighters, and I assigned them each a color. I was going to be super organized," Charlie remembers. "And then we started playing, and all of a
sudden none of that even mattered. These stupid highlighters, the pieces of paper - I should have just
trusted in the beginning that these friends would know how to take care of my songs."
You claim the bed lifted up off the floor
Well, how do you know I'm not as good as you are? A soul is a soul is a soul is a soul
- "Dog"
In the album's more raucous moments, Charlie turns from contemplating his inner struggles to examining his connection to other living creatures. The album's title track, "Dog," and the blistering "Another Dog" were inspired by some of the lessons he's learned from his own pet, and wondering about the way dogs interact with humans and the outside world.
"I have a dog, her name is Ruby but I call her Ruben, and we go for these long, crazy, chaotic walks," Charlie says. "Because I decided a long time ago that I get along really well with this dog, and I was
taking her for walks, and she wanted to go this way, and I wanted to go that way. And then I thought, why
are we going to go this way and not that way? Maybe I should be the one getting walked. Maybe I'll learn something. So I follow the dog."

Despite the album's darker moments, the listener is left hearing Charlie in a more optimistic and defiant headspace, reflecting on how far he's come - and how content he is to accept that some things are simply unknowable.

Fans who have been following Charlie Parr through his previous 13 full-length albums and decades of nonstop touring already know that the Duluth-based songwriter has a way of carving a path straight to the gut. On his newest record, Dog, however, he seems to be digging deeper and hitting those nerves quicker than ever before.
"I want my son to have this when I'm gone," Charlie sings not 10 seconds into the opening song on Dog, "Hobo." His voice sounds weary but insistent, his accompaniment sparse and sorrowful. By the second line, the listener has no choice but to be transported on a journey through the burrows of his troubled mind, following him through shadowy twists and turns as he searches for a way out.
It turns out Charlie's been grappling with quite a bit over these past few years. As he prepares to release his new album on Red House Records this fall, he's just as candid about discussing his experiences in
person as he is while singing on the heat-rending Dog.
"I had some really, really bad depression problems over the last couple years," Charlie explains. "I've been trying to get fit, trying not to drink so much, trying not to do the rock 'n' roll guy thing. And then I got depressed. Really depressed. And to me, depression feels like there's me, and then there's this kind of hazy fog of rancid jello all around me, that you can't feel your way out of. And then there's this really, really horrible third thing, this impulsive thing, that doesn't feel like it's me or my depression. It feels like it's coming from outside somewhere. And it's the thing that comes on you all of a sudden, and it's the voice of suicide, it's the voice of ‘quit.'"

"These songs have all kind of come out of that. Especially songs like ‘Salt Water' and ‘Dog,' they really came heavily out of just being depressed, and having to say something about it."

Sometimes I'm alright
Other times it's hard to tell
Like finding light in the bottom of the darkest well
- "Sometimes I'm Alright"
In the album's quieter moments, Charlie confronts these issues head-on, using only an acoustic guitar or banjo to light the way. But the incredible thing about Dog is that it digs into dark matter and contemplates serious topics like mental illness and mortality while embracing a pulse of persistence and forward motion; throughout the album, more and more musicians seem to be joining in the fray as the tempo builds, keeping the overall vibe upbeat.
"I was going to do it completely solo," Charlie says. "I was going to go to this barn in Wisconsin, sit there and play my songs. And I was practicing them and I thought, this is devastating. These songs are hard to
hear in this format. I would never be able to listen to them again. And then my friend Tom Herbers, he
saw something was wrong. We talked, booked time at Creation" Audio, and made a plan to flesh out the album with a backing band.

So Charlie called on some longtime friends who he's collaborated with throughout his career: the experimental folk artist Jeff Mitchell, percussionist Mikkel Beckman, harmonica player Dave Hundreiser, and bassist Liz Draper, who traded her typical upright bass in for an electric at Charlie's request. The group found an instant chemistry in the studio, capturing some of the tracks on the first take.
"I wrote all the lyrics on these giant pieces of paper, and I had highlighters, and I assigned them each a color. I was going to be super organized," Charlie remembers. "And then we started playing, and all of a
sudden none of that even mattered. These stupid highlighters, the pieces of paper - I should have just
trusted in the beginning that these friends would know how to take care of my songs."
You claim the bed lifted up off the floor
Well, how do you know I'm not as good as you are? A soul is a soul is a soul is a soul
- "Dog"
In the album's more raucous moments, Charlie turns from contemplating his inner struggles to examining his connection to other living creatures. The album's title track, "Dog," and the blistering "Another Dog" were inspired by some of the lessons he's learned from his own pet, and wondering about the way dogs interact with humans and the outside world.
"I have a dog, her name is Ruby but I call her Ruben, and we go for these long, crazy, chaotic walks," Charlie says. "Because I decided a long time ago that I get along really well with this dog, and I was
taking her for walks, and she wanted to go this way, and I wanted to go that way. And then I thought, why
are we going to go this way and not that way? Maybe I should be the one getting walked. Maybe I'll learn something. So I follow the dog."

Despite the album's darker moments, the listener is left hearing Charlie in a more optimistic and defiant headspace, reflecting on how far he's come - and how content he is to accept that some things are simply unknowable.

(Early Show) Eilen Jewell - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP

Eilen Jewell laughs when told her label’s president called her a musicologist. But she confirms she and her husband and bandmate, Jason Beek, have a passion for studying American music.

“We really love to uncover the past. It’s almost like digging for buried treasure,” she says. “For me, that’s where music is at. I like all kinds of music as long as there’s the word early in front of it.”

For her new album, Down Hearted Blues, releasing Sept. 22, 2017, on Signature Sounds, they unearthed 12 vintage gems written or made famous by an array of artists both renowned and obscure, from Willie Dixon and Memphis Minnie to Charles Sheffield and Betty James. Then, like expert stonecutters, they chiseled them into exciting new shapes and forms, honoring history while breathing new life into each discovery.

Eilen Jewell laughs when told her label’s president called her a musicologist. But she confirms she and her husband and bandmate, Jason Beek, have a passion for studying American music.

“We really love to uncover the past. It’s almost like digging for buried treasure,” she says. “For me, that’s where music is at. I like all kinds of music as long as there’s the word early in front of it.”

For her new album, Down Hearted Blues, releasing Sept. 22, 2017, on Signature Sounds, they unearthed 12 vintage gems written or made famous by an array of artists both renowned and obscure, from Willie Dixon and Memphis Minnie to Charles Sheffield and Betty James. Then, like expert stonecutters, they chiseled them into exciting new shapes and forms, honoring history while breathing new life into each discovery.

(Late Show) Turnpike Gardens with Special Guest NORM

Combining equal parts tight, high-energy musicianship and dynamic songwriting, Turnpike Gardens is an up-and-coming rock band from Pittsburgh, PA. The band draws its influences from rock acts of late 60s and early 70s as well as early 90s alternative rock.

Turnpike Gardens consists of three high school friends, bassist Nick Funyak, guitarist Evan Mulgrave and drummer James Conley, a trio with more than a decade of shared musical history, and features vocalist Heather Polvinale, whose brash, powerful voice carries shades of Grace Slick and Fiona Apple.

In their short history, Turnpike Gardens has already created a reputation for packing local venues such as The Smiling Moose, Mr.Smalls, Club Cafe while delivering dynamic, energetic performances. The band has played a number of shows with touring acts and local mainstays such as The Semi-Supervillains and There You Are. Their debut, self-titled LP has received a warm reception from numerous online radio stations, and local radio appearances include regular turns on 105.9 the X and a live session in the WDVE Coffeehouse with Randy Baumann and the DVE Morning Show.

The band is currently writing and recording its follow-up LP to 2015's self-titled release and continues to play live sets in support of the first album.

Combining equal parts tight, high-energy musicianship and dynamic songwriting, Turnpike Gardens is an up-and-coming rock band from Pittsburgh, PA. The band draws its influences from rock acts of late 60s and early 70s as well as early 90s alternative rock.

Turnpike Gardens consists of three high school friends, bassist Nick Funyak, guitarist Evan Mulgrave and drummer James Conley, a trio with more than a decade of shared musical history, and features vocalist Heather Polvinale, whose brash, powerful voice carries shades of Grace Slick and Fiona Apple.

In their short history, Turnpike Gardens has already created a reputation for packing local venues such as The Smiling Moose, Mr.Smalls, Club Cafe while delivering dynamic, energetic performances. The band has played a number of shows with touring acts and local mainstays such as The Semi-Supervillains and There You Are. Their debut, self-titled LP has received a warm reception from numerous online radio stations, and local radio appearances include regular turns on 105.9 the X and a live session in the WDVE Coffeehouse with Randy Baumann and the DVE Morning Show.

The band is currently writing and recording its follow-up LP to 2015's self-titled release and continues to play live sets in support of the first album.

(Early Show) Cordovas with Special Guest Elkhound

Rooted in triple-stacked harmonies, southern storytelling, and cosmic country twang, Cordovas create their own version of American roots-rock with That Santa Fe Channel.

The album marks the band's ATO Records debut, arriving after more than a half-decade's worth of international touring, communal living, and shared songwriting sessions. It's a timely — and timeless — version of a sound that's existed for 50 years, ever since pioneers like the Grateful Dead and the Allman Bothers Band blurred the lines between rock, country, and amplified folk music. If That Santa Fe Channel nods to the band's influences, though, it's still a fiercely unique album, recorded in a series of live takes that shine a light not only on Cordovas' songwriting chops, but their strength as a raw, rugged live band, as well.

That Santa Fe Channel was produced by the Milk Carton Kids' Kenneth Pattengale in East Nashville, not far from the home that doubles as the band's rehearsal space, headquarters, and shared living quarters. There, in a converted barn behind the property's main house, the guys logged countless hours fine-tuning a sound that's already earned praise from outlets like NPR Music and Rolling Stone, who described the group as "the harmony-heavy, guitar-fueled house band at a Big Pink keg party in 1968." With its western wooziness and siesta-friendly swagger, That Santa Fe Channel also nods to the band's other home bases: Southern California, where bassist and band leader Joe Firstman lived for years; and Todos Santos, Mexico, where Cordovas' five members travel every winter to write new songs, sharpen old standbys, and oversee the acclaimed Tropic of Cancer Concert Series. The result is a record that's steeped in — but not limited to — southern sounds and California charm. It's American music without borders.

Years before Cordovas' formation, Firstman traveled the country as a solo musician. Raised in North Carolina, he moved to Hollywood as a determined 20 year-old, signing a major-label deal with Atlantic Records in 2002. His debut album, War of Women, hit stores one year later. When a dizzying blur of acclaimed shows — including opening dates for Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson — weren't enough to satisfy the expectations of a big-budget record label, Firstman lost his contract and took a new job as music director on Last Call with Carson Daly. It was good work, with Firstman performing nightly alongside first-rate musicians like Thundercat and Kamasi Washington. Still, the need to create his own music was ever-present. With Cordovas, he's found his ultimate vehicle: a collaborative band with multiple lead singers and a collective approach not only to songwriting, but to existing. Cordovas aren't just bandmates. They're roommates. They're co-conspirators. They're a family.

"The Cordovas are a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week job," clarifies Firstman, who shares the band's roster with drummer Graham Spillman, keyboardist Sevans Henderson, and dueling lead guitarists Lucca Soria and Toby Weaver. "You're always on call to play, to adapt to another man's idea, to pick up a guitar or look at a lyrics sheet. We're eating dinner together, hanging out together, and making art. We don't have rehearsal times, because rehearsal is always. You have to honor the art first, and everything else comes second."

Living in such close quarters — both at home and on the road — has turned Cordovas into a band of brothers. Stop by the band's East Nashville compound and you may find Soria and Weaver picking their way through bluegrass songs inside the barn, while Firstman wraps up a family dinner in the kitchen and Spillman fixes the band's RV outside. There's a communal vibe to the band's existence that bleeds over into their songs, where it's often hard to pinpoint a single person's voice in those thick, swooning harmonies. That Santa Fe Channel is the soundtrack to that communal existence: a collection of songs written together, performed together, and lived together.

And what a soundtrack it is. There's the Band-influenced boogie-woogie of "Standin' on the Porch," full of blue notes and pedal steel. There's the layered melodies of "I'm the One Who Needs You Tonight," the classic chord changes of "Selfish Loner," the barroom piano of "Step Back Red," and the hungover charm of the album's opener, "This Town's a Drag," which finds Firstman searching for illegal thrills in a dry town. Together, That Santa Fe Channel's nine songs paint the picture of a band on the rise, heading for a horizon whose beauty can match their own.

Rooted in triple-stacked harmonies, southern storytelling, and cosmic country twang, Cordovas create their own version of American roots-rock with That Santa Fe Channel.

The album marks the band's ATO Records debut, arriving after more than a half-decade's worth of international touring, communal living, and shared songwriting sessions. It's a timely — and timeless — version of a sound that's existed for 50 years, ever since pioneers like the Grateful Dead and the Allman Bothers Band blurred the lines between rock, country, and amplified folk music. If That Santa Fe Channel nods to the band's influences, though, it's still a fiercely unique album, recorded in a series of live takes that shine a light not only on Cordovas' songwriting chops, but their strength as a raw, rugged live band, as well.

That Santa Fe Channel was produced by the Milk Carton Kids' Kenneth Pattengale in East Nashville, not far from the home that doubles as the band's rehearsal space, headquarters, and shared living quarters. There, in a converted barn behind the property's main house, the guys logged countless hours fine-tuning a sound that's already earned praise from outlets like NPR Music and Rolling Stone, who described the group as "the harmony-heavy, guitar-fueled house band at a Big Pink keg party in 1968." With its western wooziness and siesta-friendly swagger, That Santa Fe Channel also nods to the band's other home bases: Southern California, where bassist and band leader Joe Firstman lived for years; and Todos Santos, Mexico, where Cordovas' five members travel every winter to write new songs, sharpen old standbys, and oversee the acclaimed Tropic of Cancer Concert Series. The result is a record that's steeped in — but not limited to — southern sounds and California charm. It's American music without borders.

Years before Cordovas' formation, Firstman traveled the country as a solo musician. Raised in North Carolina, he moved to Hollywood as a determined 20 year-old, signing a major-label deal with Atlantic Records in 2002. His debut album, War of Women, hit stores one year later. When a dizzying blur of acclaimed shows — including opening dates for Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson — weren't enough to satisfy the expectations of a big-budget record label, Firstman lost his contract and took a new job as music director on Last Call with Carson Daly. It was good work, with Firstman performing nightly alongside first-rate musicians like Thundercat and Kamasi Washington. Still, the need to create his own music was ever-present. With Cordovas, he's found his ultimate vehicle: a collaborative band with multiple lead singers and a collective approach not only to songwriting, but to existing. Cordovas aren't just bandmates. They're roommates. They're co-conspirators. They're a family.

"The Cordovas are a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week job," clarifies Firstman, who shares the band's roster with drummer Graham Spillman, keyboardist Sevans Henderson, and dueling lead guitarists Lucca Soria and Toby Weaver. "You're always on call to play, to adapt to another man's idea, to pick up a guitar or look at a lyrics sheet. We're eating dinner together, hanging out together, and making art. We don't have rehearsal times, because rehearsal is always. You have to honor the art first, and everything else comes second."

Living in such close quarters — both at home and on the road — has turned Cordovas into a band of brothers. Stop by the band's East Nashville compound and you may find Soria and Weaver picking their way through bluegrass songs inside the barn, while Firstman wraps up a family dinner in the kitchen and Spillman fixes the band's RV outside. There's a communal vibe to the band's existence that bleeds over into their songs, where it's often hard to pinpoint a single person's voice in those thick, swooning harmonies. That Santa Fe Channel is the soundtrack to that communal existence: a collection of songs written together, performed together, and lived together.

And what a soundtrack it is. There's the Band-influenced boogie-woogie of "Standin' on the Porch," full of blue notes and pedal steel. There's the layered melodies of "I'm the One Who Needs You Tonight," the classic chord changes of "Selfish Loner," the barroom piano of "Step Back Red," and the hungover charm of the album's opener, "This Town's a Drag," which finds Firstman searching for illegal thrills in a dry town. Together, That Santa Fe Channel's nine songs paint the picture of a band on the rise, heading for a horizon whose beauty can match their own.

(Late Show) Ugly Blondes / Whiskey Pilot / Jakethehawk

HEAR US! An Evening of Art & Advocacy featuring Rachel Lynne, Dinosoul, Swampwalk, and Daniella (of Soft Gondola). All proceeds to benefit Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.

HEAR US! An Evening of Art & Advocacy featuring Rachel Lynne with Dinosoul, Swampwalk, and Daniella (of Soft Gondola). All proceeds to benefit Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.

HEAR US! An Evening of Art & Advocacy featuring Rachel Lynne with Dinosoul, Swampwalk, and Daniella (of Soft Gondola). All proceeds to benefit Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.

Howlin Rain with Very Special guest Mountain Movers and Mapache

Since their debut in 2006, Oakland, California’s Howlin Rain has seen as many highs, lows, and wild adventures as any great American rock band. Led by singer/guitarist/lead howler Ethan Miller (co-founder of blistering psych rockers Comets On Fire), they’ve performed to worldwide audiences, enlisted a megastar producer and label, moved on from said megastar producer and label, and ultimately embraced a DIY spirit.
With their new LP The Alligator Bride, Miller’s merry band of pranksters deliver their fifth full-length set of swampy, ragged, and unapologetic rock ’n roll. “The guiding principle for The Alligator Bride was to create ‘Neal Cassady Rock,’” says Miller. “Which is to say, high energy, good-times adventure music, driving the hippie bus, shirtless and stoned, up for four days straight, and extremely fuzzy around the edges.” It’s their first release on Silver Current Records, the artist-run label owned by Miller, who carefully oversees all curation, recording, graphic design, and distribution.

The Alligator Bride is gleefully indebted to classic rock formations such as the Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72, Mountain Bus’ 1974 burner Sundance, and Free’s masterpiece of atmospheric, minimalist blues, 1969’s Fire and Water. But there’s a wider context to the Rain. At any given moment, Miller pivots between several projects, each a different facet of his sun-scorched California vision. From the pastoral psych jams of his celebrated Sub Pop band Heron Oblivion, to the scuzz punk freakouts of Feral Ohms, to the sprawling, analog ambience of The Odyssey Cult, to his various books of poetry, Miller cuts a renaissance figure in madman’s garb, howling at the moon and cranking out handmade masterpieces.

Which brings us back to Howlin Rain’s latest. Tracked over three days by Eric “King Riff” Bauer at the Mansion in San Francisco, The Alligator Bride is the sound of a full band playing live to tape, cutting the material in first and second takes. (It also marks the second installment in the band’s Mansion trilogy. First was 2016’s Mansion Songs, a less raucous affair, with the gentle touch of Espers/Heron Oblivion’s Meg Baird on vocals, among other contributors.) Miller attributes the magic to the vibe of the Mansion studio, the same space that gave birth to modern garage-psych classics by Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, and Mikal Cronin. “Because it has the word ‘mansion’ in it, people are like, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize it wasn’t an actual mansion.’” says Miller. “It’s a basement in Chinatown. It’s a mansion of the mind. It’s a creative castle. It’s not a literal, San Francisco mansion.”

From the first notes of opening track “Rainbow Trout,” Miller’s guitar choogles out an inescapable riff, a sly reference to the sky spirits of Norman Greenbaum and ZZ Top. The riff – that riff! – unabashedly grounds The Alligator Bride in the classics, but reaches for the stars. Daniel Cervantes’ bottleneck slide guitar eases into place along with Miller’s tuneful-yet-ravaged lead vocals, followed by Jeff McElroy’s bass and Justin Smith’s charging drums. Title track “Alligator Bride” soon crashes the gates like Crazy Horse in all their ragged glory, telling a carnivalesque tale of American splendor, a parade of creatures across time and space. And final track “Coming Down” slow-burns its way through eight minutes of indestructible twin guitars, blazing to a heroic, acid-damaged finish.

“We’re in a vortex of futuristic events,” ruminates Miller. “At this present moment, we can still remember the way the train whistle sounded in the middle of the night, rolling through the dark on the ​outskirts of town. An old America before we walked on the moon, before TV, cell phones, and the internet. The song (and perhaps the entire album) ‘Alligator Bride’ is about standing in the eye of that tornado of time – between the past and the present – in America.” It’s a fitting vision for the band: torn between eras, an epic perspective on what’s come before and what lies ahead, woven into a cosmic tapestry of riffs, rhymes, and resonant frequencies.

Since their debut in 2006, Oakland, California’s Howlin Rain has seen as many highs, lows, and wild adventures as any great American rock band. Led by singer/guitarist/lead howler Ethan Miller (co-founder of blistering psych rockers Comets On Fire), they’ve performed to worldwide audiences, enlisted a megastar producer and label, moved on from said megastar producer and label, and ultimately embraced a DIY spirit.
With their new LP The Alligator Bride, Miller’s merry band of pranksters deliver their fifth full-length set of swampy, ragged, and unapologetic rock ’n roll. “The guiding principle for The Alligator Bride was to create ‘Neal Cassady Rock,’” says Miller. “Which is to say, high energy, good-times adventure music, driving the hippie bus, shirtless and stoned, up for four days straight, and extremely fuzzy around the edges.” It’s their first release on Silver Current Records, the artist-run label owned by Miller, who carefully oversees all curation, recording, graphic design, and distribution.

The Alligator Bride is gleefully indebted to classic rock formations such as the Grateful Dead’s Europe ‘72, Mountain Bus’ 1974 burner Sundance, and Free’s masterpiece of atmospheric, minimalist blues, 1969’s Fire and Water. But there’s a wider context to the Rain. At any given moment, Miller pivots between several projects, each a different facet of his sun-scorched California vision. From the pastoral psych jams of his celebrated Sub Pop band Heron Oblivion, to the scuzz punk freakouts of Feral Ohms, to the sprawling, analog ambience of The Odyssey Cult, to his various books of poetry, Miller cuts a renaissance figure in madman’s garb, howling at the moon and cranking out handmade masterpieces.

Which brings us back to Howlin Rain’s latest. Tracked over three days by Eric “King Riff” Bauer at the Mansion in San Francisco, The Alligator Bride is the sound of a full band playing live to tape, cutting the material in first and second takes. (It also marks the second installment in the band’s Mansion trilogy. First was 2016’s Mansion Songs, a less raucous affair, with the gentle touch of Espers/Heron Oblivion’s Meg Baird on vocals, among other contributors.) Miller attributes the magic to the vibe of the Mansion studio, the same space that gave birth to modern garage-psych classics by Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, and Mikal Cronin. “Because it has the word ‘mansion’ in it, people are like, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize it wasn’t an actual mansion.’” says Miller. “It’s a basement in Chinatown. It’s a mansion of the mind. It’s a creative castle. It’s not a literal, San Francisco mansion.”

From the first notes of opening track “Rainbow Trout,” Miller’s guitar choogles out an inescapable riff, a sly reference to the sky spirits of Norman Greenbaum and ZZ Top. The riff – that riff! – unabashedly grounds The Alligator Bride in the classics, but reaches for the stars. Daniel Cervantes’ bottleneck slide guitar eases into place along with Miller’s tuneful-yet-ravaged lead vocals, followed by Jeff McElroy’s bass and Justin Smith’s charging drums. Title track “Alligator Bride” soon crashes the gates like Crazy Horse in all their ragged glory, telling a carnivalesque tale of American splendor, a parade of creatures across time and space. And final track “Coming Down” slow-burns its way through eight minutes of indestructible twin guitars, blazing to a heroic, acid-damaged finish.

“We’re in a vortex of futuristic events,” ruminates Miller. “At this present moment, we can still remember the way the train whistle sounded in the middle of the night, rolling through the dark on the ​outskirts of town. An old America before we walked on the moon, before TV, cell phones, and the internet. The song (and perhaps the entire album) ‘Alligator Bride’ is about standing in the eye of that tornado of time – between the past and the present – in America.” It’s a fitting vision for the band: torn between eras, an epic perspective on what’s come before and what lies ahead, woven into a cosmic tapestry of riffs, rhymes, and resonant frequencies.

An Evening With Slaid Cleaves

Doors will open an hour early at 6pm for extended kitchen service. Come have dinner with us before the show!

Now twenty-five years into his storied career, Cleaves' songwriting has never been more potent than on his new album Ghost on the Car Radio, out June 23.

The characters in Slaid Cleaves' songs live in unglamorous reality. They work dead-end jobs, they run out of money, they grow old, they hold on to each other (or not), and they die. With an eye for the beauty in everyday life, he tells their stories, bringing a bit of empathy to their uncaring world.

On "Take Home Pay," co-written with longtime friend Rod Picott, Cleaves sings from the perspective of an aging manual laborer, fighting looming regret and sadness with stubborn resiliency (and opioid use).

"On my way down to the pawn shop
A couple hundred is all I need
If I have to, I’ll hit the blood bank
I’m bone dry but I can always bleed

I got some Oxy to keep me moving
It slowly takes some things away
The only thing I was scared of losing
She packed up and left today"
-"TAKE HOME PAY"

"As befits the times we live in, there's a heavy dose of disappointment and disillusion here," he says. But somehow, through the worst of it, optimism remains, as if to say, "Yeah, things are pretty bad out there. But there's still some good stuff if you know where to look."

One place his characters find solace is with each other. Traditional love songs are not often found on a Slaid Cleaves record. Here he approaches the subject less as a romantic gesture, and more as a world-weary appreciation of the one who's seen you through thick and thin, as in the song "So Good to Me."

"Times were tough but we were tougher
Slings and arrows we did suffer
Scars, we’ve got a few, but who has not

Words of love and words of anger
Times of peace and times of danger
Never take for granted what we've got"
- "SO GOOD TO ME"

Described as "terse, clear and heartfelt" (NPR Fresh Air), his songs speak to timeless truths. "I'm not an innovator. I'm more of a keeper of the flame," he says.

"Songs are so accessible. You don't need an education to fully appreciate them, you don't need a lot of leisure time to spend on them, you don't need to learn the language of song. We seem to be born with it," Cleaves explains. "With no preparation at all, they can bring you to tears in a matter of seconds. I remember being three or four and getting a lump in my throat when I heard Hank Williams sing."

Now in his fifties, Cleaves admits that it's sometimes hard to stay inspired. "I do become jaded," he says. "I wonder that, at this point in my career, I've had no real national success. No impact on the culture, as my heroes had. The music that I love just doesn't seem relevant to mainstream culture. But then, I have no interest in what mainstream culture offers either."

"But those feelings are always quickly overcome by gratitude," he explains. "I'm making a living as a musician, and making a meaningful connection with people - what could be better than that?"

Ghost on the Car Radio is Cleaves' first release since 2013's Still Fighting the War, which was praised as "one of the year's best albums" by American Songwriter and "carefully crafted...songs about the struggles of the heart in hard times" by the Wall Street Journal. The New York Daily News called his music "a treasure hidden in plain sight," while the Austin Chronicle declared, "there are few contemporaries that compare. He's become a master craftsman on the order of Guy Clark and John Prine."

Cleaves will hit the road this summer and fall in support of the album. For updated tour dates, visit slaidcleaves.com/tour

Doors will open an hour early at 6pm for extended kitchen service. Come have dinner with us before the show!

Now twenty-five years into his storied career, Cleaves' songwriting has never been more potent than on his new album Ghost on the Car Radio, out June 23.

The characters in Slaid Cleaves' songs live in unglamorous reality. They work dead-end jobs, they run out of money, they grow old, they hold on to each other (or not), and they die. With an eye for the beauty in everyday life, he tells their stories, bringing a bit of empathy to their uncaring world.

On "Take Home Pay," co-written with longtime friend Rod Picott, Cleaves sings from the perspective of an aging manual laborer, fighting looming regret and sadness with stubborn resiliency (and opioid use).

"On my way down to the pawn shop
A couple hundred is all I need
If I have to, I’ll hit the blood bank
I’m bone dry but I can always bleed

I got some Oxy to keep me moving
It slowly takes some things away
The only thing I was scared of losing
She packed up and left today"
-"TAKE HOME PAY"

"As befits the times we live in, there's a heavy dose of disappointment and disillusion here," he says. But somehow, through the worst of it, optimism remains, as if to say, "Yeah, things are pretty bad out there. But there's still some good stuff if you know where to look."

One place his characters find solace is with each other. Traditional love songs are not often found on a Slaid Cleaves record. Here he approaches the subject less as a romantic gesture, and more as a world-weary appreciation of the one who's seen you through thick and thin, as in the song "So Good to Me."

"Times were tough but we were tougher
Slings and arrows we did suffer
Scars, we’ve got a few, but who has not

Words of love and words of anger
Times of peace and times of danger
Never take for granted what we've got"
- "SO GOOD TO ME"

Described as "terse, clear and heartfelt" (NPR Fresh Air), his songs speak to timeless truths. "I'm not an innovator. I'm more of a keeper of the flame," he says.

"Songs are so accessible. You don't need an education to fully appreciate them, you don't need a lot of leisure time to spend on them, you don't need to learn the language of song. We seem to be born with it," Cleaves explains. "With no preparation at all, they can bring you to tears in a matter of seconds. I remember being three or four and getting a lump in my throat when I heard Hank Williams sing."

Now in his fifties, Cleaves admits that it's sometimes hard to stay inspired. "I do become jaded," he says. "I wonder that, at this point in my career, I've had no real national success. No impact on the culture, as my heroes had. The music that I love just doesn't seem relevant to mainstream culture. But then, I have no interest in what mainstream culture offers either."

"But those feelings are always quickly overcome by gratitude," he explains. "I'm making a living as a musician, and making a meaningful connection with people - what could be better than that?"

Ghost on the Car Radio is Cleaves' first release since 2013's Still Fighting the War, which was praised as "one of the year's best albums" by American Songwriter and "carefully crafted...songs about the struggles of the heart in hard times" by the Wall Street Journal. The New York Daily News called his music "a treasure hidden in plain sight," while the Austin Chronicle declared, "there are few contemporaries that compare. He's become a master craftsman on the order of Guy Clark and John Prine."

Cleaves will hit the road this summer and fall in support of the album. For updated tour dates, visit slaidcleaves.com/tour

@clubcafelive

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