club cafe

pittsburgh, pa
(Early Show) Joey McGee with Joe Zelek Band

Singer-songwriter Joey McGee makes music infused with the energy of his native New Orleans, informed by his experiences working in Pittsburgh churches and inspired by the Brazos Valley vistas of his current home in Bryan, Texas. Influences from time spent in San Antonio also work their way into his appealing sound: a mix of soul, country, blues
and rock that adds up to an Americana original. McGee’s own words best describe his new album, El Camino Real (Feb. 22, 2019): “It taps into the rootedness of who I am - a Southern, Creole-Cajun musician dude working through my hang-ups and trying to make the world a better place along the way.

“These songs are a good reflection of where I am in life,” McGee adds. “They feel like
rich, warm, black earth in your hands.”

Singer-songwriter Joey McGee makes music infused with the energy of his native New Orleans, informed by his experiences working in Pittsburgh churches and inspired by the Brazos Valley vistas of his current home in Bryan, Texas. Influences from time spent in San Antonio also work their way into his appealing sound: a mix of soul, country, blues
and rock that adds up to an Americana original. McGee’s own words best describe his new album, El Camino Real (Feb. 22, 2019): “It taps into the rootedness of who I am - a Southern, Creole-Cajun musician dude working through my hang-ups and trying to make the world a better place along the way.

“These songs are a good reflection of where I am in life,” McGee adds. “They feel like
rich, warm, black earth in your hands.”

(Late Show) Reconquista with Special Guest Swampwalk

Reconquista is an EXPLOSIVE Americana band from Pittsburgh.

Reconquista is an EXPLOSIVE Americana band from Pittsburgh.

Patrick Sweany with Special Guest Rocket Loves Blue

Nashville vocalist/guitarist Patrick Sweany doesn’t hold back on his latest studio album, Ancient Noise.

Sweany recorded the new tunes with GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer/producer Matt Ross-Spang after Ross-Spang invited Sweany to check out his new homebase at legendary Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis. The studio that Phillips had custom built in the 70s has been meticulously refurbished by the Phillips family.

“Sam Phillips Recording is the best place on earth to record a rock ‘n’ roll album,” says Sweany. “I live for going into the sessions with no pre-production rehearsals with the band, we just cut the album on the floor of Studio A song-by-song.”

For the sessions, Sweany recruited longtime collaborator Ted Pecchio on bass (Doyle Bramhall II, Col. Bruce Hampton) and ex-Wilco drummer Ken Coomer both from Nashville. When Sweany needed some organ on a song, Ross-Spang got in touch with Charles Hodges, a veteran Memphis session player best known for playing with Al Green on all of his seminal records.

Hodges fit in so well, he ended up on nearly every track on Ancient Noise. “Charles truly elevated the entire experience,” says Sweany. “In fact, when we met on the first day of recording, Charles led us through a prayer before we had even played a single note together. I’m not particularly religious, but I have to say that was quite the experience and really set the tone of the album. The music is refined, emotional, and I was taken out of my comfort zone many times, which leads to the magic you’re looking for when the tape is rolling.”

The record opens with two tracks (“Old Time Ways” and “Up & Down”) that recall the howling vocals and raw guitar work that first put Sweany on the map over a decade ago.

However, getting out of his comfort zone meant reimagining a lot of the songs Sweany had penned for Ancient Noise, none more so that the third track “Country Loving.” With Hodges’ grand piano front and center, Sweany croons like a young Tom Waits about long-term relationships, the stresses, the simple pleasures, the building of memories. It’s the most vulnerable song he’s ever recorded - and it heralds a new confidence in taking risks.

That confidence pushes through the rest of the record, where Sweany and the band delve deep into Allen Toussaint-style funk on “No Way No How,” the organ fueled “Get Along,” and “Cry Of Amédé,” which touches on the life of Amédé Ardoin, a brilliant, pioneering Creole musician who was brutally beaten in 1934 for accepting a hankerchief from a white woman.

Other tracks recall even wider influences: “Outcast Blues” has a bluesy lurch that recalls The Stones’ Exile On Main Street; “Play Around” has an early 60s do wop feel, and album closer “Victory Lap” ends with a raving coda that would make Bob Seger proud.

Ancient Noise is Patrick Sweany’s eigth full-length album, and it finds Sweany in top form, willing to push himself stylistically to great effect. The record comes out on Nine Mile Records on May 11, 2018.

Nashville vocalist/guitarist Patrick Sweany doesn’t hold back on his latest studio album, Ancient Noise.

Sweany recorded the new tunes with GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer/producer Matt Ross-Spang after Ross-Spang invited Sweany to check out his new homebase at legendary Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis. The studio that Phillips had custom built in the 70s has been meticulously refurbished by the Phillips family.

“Sam Phillips Recording is the best place on earth to record a rock ‘n’ roll album,” says Sweany. “I live for going into the sessions with no pre-production rehearsals with the band, we just cut the album on the floor of Studio A song-by-song.”

For the sessions, Sweany recruited longtime collaborator Ted Pecchio on bass (Doyle Bramhall II, Col. Bruce Hampton) and ex-Wilco drummer Ken Coomer both from Nashville. When Sweany needed some organ on a song, Ross-Spang got in touch with Charles Hodges, a veteran Memphis session player best known for playing with Al Green on all of his seminal records.

Hodges fit in so well, he ended up on nearly every track on Ancient Noise. “Charles truly elevated the entire experience,” says Sweany. “In fact, when we met on the first day of recording, Charles led us through a prayer before we had even played a single note together. I’m not particularly religious, but I have to say that was quite the experience and really set the tone of the album. The music is refined, emotional, and I was taken out of my comfort zone many times, which leads to the magic you’re looking for when the tape is rolling.”

The record opens with two tracks (“Old Time Ways” and “Up & Down”) that recall the howling vocals and raw guitar work that first put Sweany on the map over a decade ago.

However, getting out of his comfort zone meant reimagining a lot of the songs Sweany had penned for Ancient Noise, none more so that the third track “Country Loving.” With Hodges’ grand piano front and center, Sweany croons like a young Tom Waits about long-term relationships, the stresses, the simple pleasures, the building of memories. It’s the most vulnerable song he’s ever recorded - and it heralds a new confidence in taking risks.

That confidence pushes through the rest of the record, where Sweany and the band delve deep into Allen Toussaint-style funk on “No Way No How,” the organ fueled “Get Along,” and “Cry Of Amédé,” which touches on the life of Amédé Ardoin, a brilliant, pioneering Creole musician who was brutally beaten in 1934 for accepting a hankerchief from a white woman.

Other tracks recall even wider influences: “Outcast Blues” has a bluesy lurch that recalls The Stones’ Exile On Main Street; “Play Around” has an early 60s do wop feel, and album closer “Victory Lap” ends with a raving coda that would make Bob Seger proud.

Ancient Noise is Patrick Sweany’s eigth full-length album, and it finds Sweany in top form, willing to push himself stylistically to great effect. The record comes out on Nine Mile Records on May 11, 2018.

Southern Avenue with Special Guest Xavier Wells

FIERY YOUNG MEMPHIS COMBO
SOUTHERN AVENUE TURNS UP THE RETRO-SOUL HEAT
WITH THEIR SECOND ALBUM, KEEP ON



On their self-titled 2017 debut album, the boundary-breaking Memphis combo Southern Avenue sparked a one-band musical revolution, embodying an effortlessly organic soul/blues/R&B fusion that reflects the band members' diverse roots as well as their deep commitment to their chosen style. On their second album Keep On, set for release on May 10, 2019 via Concord Records, the dynamic outfit expands its gritty musical vision to embrace new musical challenges and a more expansive creative vision.

Southern Avenue combines the talents of a prodigiously talented set of young musicians who bring their individual backgrounds to the table to create music that carries the Southern soul legacy into the 21st century, spanning the band members' wide-ranging musical interests while showcasing the powerful chemistry and electrifying live show that they've honed through extensive stage and studio experience. Since the release of their debut, Southern Avenue has played in over a dozen countries and wowed audiences at such festivals as Bonnaroo, Firefly, Electric Forest and Lockn’.

Guitar phenom Ori Naftaly originally built his reputation in his native Israel before joining forces with deeply expressive Memphis-bred singer Tierinii Jackson and her subtly powerful drummer sister Tikyra Jackson. The band's lineup is rounded out by versatile keyboardist Jeremy Powell, an early alumnus of Stax Records' renowned music academy.

Keep On brilliantly captures Southern Avenue's combustible chemistry, with the emotion-charged energy of such distinctive originals as "Whiskey Love," "Savior," "Too Good for You" and "We Are Not So Different" reflecting the players' evolving talents as well as the influence of the extensive roadwork that they've invested in the band. The musicians recorded the album with producer Johnny Black (Jessie J, Daughtry, Estelle) at Memphis' legendary Sam Phillips Recording, with guest appearances by seminal Stax Records artist William Bell, noted Memphis musician Gage Markey (who serves as guest bassist on most of the album) and a horn section comprised of Art Edmaiston (JJ Grey & Mofro, Gregg Allman) and Marc Franklin (The Bo-Keys, Gregg Allman).

GRAMMY Award winner Bell, a formative figure in the development of Southern soul, was impressed by the band's talents. "In terms of new artists with the talent to become the stars of the future, you need to look no further than Southern Avenue," Bell commented.

The critics have been similarly impressed. "Southern Avenue's modern sound melds gospel-infused R&B with a rootsy rock feel," wrote Mix. Relix referred to Southern Avenue as "a deeply soulful Memphis band that’s turning the scene on its head," while Goldmine called their music "a frothy Memphis soul stew fit to twitch your body to in ways you didn't think you could," The Chicago Reader called the band's debut album "a boiling retro-soul primer," adding that "Tierinii has a riveting stage presence. They do the Stax legacy proud." No Depression commented that it's "easy to imagine Southern Avenue as a house band in their native Memphis or Muscle Shoals in the glory days of the '60s, sent back to the future to save us from inauthenticity and our collective hurt."

"Making this album was an interesting journey," Ori says of Keep On. "Our first album was recorded very fast and released very fast. With this one, we spent a long time planning, and we knew how we wanted it sound. For me, it's a big progression from the first album." "The experience was completely different from making the first one," adds Tierinii. "We learned a lot about each other and a lot about the band."

As producer Johnny Black notes, "The thing that stood out most to me about Southern Avenue is their dedication to making this record 'the hard way.' Even in their selection of studios; by picking Sam Phillips Recording, the band, in essence, forced themselves to record within the same parameters as some of their heroes. And while that process may have taken extra time, it was well worth the effort."

The seeds for Southern Avenue's birth were first planted when Ori Naftaly, who'd grown up in Israel with a deep-rooted passion for American soul, blues and funk, came to Memphis in 2013 to compete in the prestigious International Blues Challenge. Although his talents were embraced by American audiences, Naftaly felt constrained in his own band, feeling the need to embrace a more expansive musical vision. That opportunity arrived when he met Tierinii Jackson, who'd gotten her start singing in church, before performing in a series of cover bands and theatrical projects.

Despite not having a record deal at the time, Southern Avenue quickly found success touring in America and Europe. They won additional attention playing some high-profile festivals and making it to the finals in the International Blues Challenge.

The band’s self-titled debut was released in 2017, hitting #6 on Billboard’s Top Blues Albums Chart, reaching #1 on the iTunes Blues Chart and prominently sitting in the Americana radio Top 30 for nearly six months. The success of the album created demand for the band in both the U.S. and throughout the world performing in high-profile festivals around the globe. Since that time the band has seemingly lived on the road with over 300 shows under their belts. Building their audience one show at a time, they have headlined countless rooms from coast to coast and have toured with artists including Buddy Guy, JJ Grey & Mofro, Umphrey's McGee, Los Lobos, North Mississippi Allstars and Karl Denson to name a few. "We love playing live," says Ori Naftaly, "It's that connection with our fans that makes the time away from home worth it. Fans become our family out on the road and we love experiencing music together with them each and every night."

Their efforts were further acknowledged by fans and peers in 2018, when their Stax debut was honored with a Blues Music Award for “Best Emerging Artist Album.”

"What makes it Southern Avenue," Tierinii states, "is that when we come together, the music we make together is music we could never come up with individually. It's really rewarding to have so many influences in the band, and that we can find the balance between them."

"I'm proud that we don't sound like anyone else," Ori asserts. "We've been all over the world, from Australia to Poland to Norway to Spain to Canada to Mexico. Those experiences, and all the highs and lows, it's all reflected in the music. I've waited all my life to be in a band like this, and it's amazing to me that I get to play with these people every night."

FIERY YOUNG MEMPHIS COMBO
SOUTHERN AVENUE TURNS UP THE RETRO-SOUL HEAT
WITH THEIR SECOND ALBUM, KEEP ON



On their self-titled 2017 debut album, the boundary-breaking Memphis combo Southern Avenue sparked a one-band musical revolution, embodying an effortlessly organic soul/blues/R&B fusion that reflects the band members' diverse roots as well as their deep commitment to their chosen style. On their second album Keep On, set for release on May 10, 2019 via Concord Records, the dynamic outfit expands its gritty musical vision to embrace new musical challenges and a more expansive creative vision.

Southern Avenue combines the talents of a prodigiously talented set of young musicians who bring their individual backgrounds to the table to create music that carries the Southern soul legacy into the 21st century, spanning the band members' wide-ranging musical interests while showcasing the powerful chemistry and electrifying live show that they've honed through extensive stage and studio experience. Since the release of their debut, Southern Avenue has played in over a dozen countries and wowed audiences at such festivals as Bonnaroo, Firefly, Electric Forest and Lockn’.

Guitar phenom Ori Naftaly originally built his reputation in his native Israel before joining forces with deeply expressive Memphis-bred singer Tierinii Jackson and her subtly powerful drummer sister Tikyra Jackson. The band's lineup is rounded out by versatile keyboardist Jeremy Powell, an early alumnus of Stax Records' renowned music academy.

Keep On brilliantly captures Southern Avenue's combustible chemistry, with the emotion-charged energy of such distinctive originals as "Whiskey Love," "Savior," "Too Good for You" and "We Are Not So Different" reflecting the players' evolving talents as well as the influence of the extensive roadwork that they've invested in the band. The musicians recorded the album with producer Johnny Black (Jessie J, Daughtry, Estelle) at Memphis' legendary Sam Phillips Recording, with guest appearances by seminal Stax Records artist William Bell, noted Memphis musician Gage Markey (who serves as guest bassist on most of the album) and a horn section comprised of Art Edmaiston (JJ Grey & Mofro, Gregg Allman) and Marc Franklin (The Bo-Keys, Gregg Allman).

GRAMMY Award winner Bell, a formative figure in the development of Southern soul, was impressed by the band's talents. "In terms of new artists with the talent to become the stars of the future, you need to look no further than Southern Avenue," Bell commented.

The critics have been similarly impressed. "Southern Avenue's modern sound melds gospel-infused R&B with a rootsy rock feel," wrote Mix. Relix referred to Southern Avenue as "a deeply soulful Memphis band that’s turning the scene on its head," while Goldmine called their music "a frothy Memphis soul stew fit to twitch your body to in ways you didn't think you could," The Chicago Reader called the band's debut album "a boiling retro-soul primer," adding that "Tierinii has a riveting stage presence. They do the Stax legacy proud." No Depression commented that it's "easy to imagine Southern Avenue as a house band in their native Memphis or Muscle Shoals in the glory days of the '60s, sent back to the future to save us from inauthenticity and our collective hurt."

"Making this album was an interesting journey," Ori says of Keep On. "Our first album was recorded very fast and released very fast. With this one, we spent a long time planning, and we knew how we wanted it sound. For me, it's a big progression from the first album." "The experience was completely different from making the first one," adds Tierinii. "We learned a lot about each other and a lot about the band."

As producer Johnny Black notes, "The thing that stood out most to me about Southern Avenue is their dedication to making this record 'the hard way.' Even in their selection of studios; by picking Sam Phillips Recording, the band, in essence, forced themselves to record within the same parameters as some of their heroes. And while that process may have taken extra time, it was well worth the effort."

The seeds for Southern Avenue's birth were first planted when Ori Naftaly, who'd grown up in Israel with a deep-rooted passion for American soul, blues and funk, came to Memphis in 2013 to compete in the prestigious International Blues Challenge. Although his talents were embraced by American audiences, Naftaly felt constrained in his own band, feeling the need to embrace a more expansive musical vision. That opportunity arrived when he met Tierinii Jackson, who'd gotten her start singing in church, before performing in a series of cover bands and theatrical projects.

Despite not having a record deal at the time, Southern Avenue quickly found success touring in America and Europe. They won additional attention playing some high-profile festivals and making it to the finals in the International Blues Challenge.

The band’s self-titled debut was released in 2017, hitting #6 on Billboard’s Top Blues Albums Chart, reaching #1 on the iTunes Blues Chart and prominently sitting in the Americana radio Top 30 for nearly six months. The success of the album created demand for the band in both the U.S. and throughout the world performing in high-profile festivals around the globe. Since that time the band has seemingly lived on the road with over 300 shows under their belts. Building their audience one show at a time, they have headlined countless rooms from coast to coast and have toured with artists including Buddy Guy, JJ Grey & Mofro, Umphrey's McGee, Los Lobos, North Mississippi Allstars and Karl Denson to name a few. "We love playing live," says Ori Naftaly, "It's that connection with our fans that makes the time away from home worth it. Fans become our family out on the road and we love experiencing music together with them each and every night."

Their efforts were further acknowledged by fans and peers in 2018, when their Stax debut was honored with a Blues Music Award for “Best Emerging Artist Album.”

"What makes it Southern Avenue," Tierinii states, "is that when we come together, the music we make together is music we could never come up with individually. It's really rewarding to have so many influences in the band, and that we can find the balance between them."

"I'm proud that we don't sound like anyone else," Ori asserts. "We've been all over the world, from Australia to Poland to Norway to Spain to Canada to Mexico. Those experiences, and all the highs and lows, it's all reflected in the music. I've waited all my life to be in a band like this, and it's amazing to me that I get to play with these people every night."

An Evening With Eilen Jewell

American Songwriter describes Eilen Jewell as, “one of America’s most intriguing, creative and idiosyncratic voices.” The Boise, Idaho songwriter is one of a kind.

That singular voice springs forth from a woman of more than one mind, and she taps into many of them on Gypsy (August, 2019 Signature Sounds Recordings). By turns personal and political, pissed off and blissed out, Jewell’s first album of original material since 2015 expands brief moments of joy into lifetimes, and distills epic sentiments and persistent doubts into succinct songs.

Jewell seamlessly blends heavy electric guitars and dirty fiddles on the rollicking country rocker “Crawl” with the sweet and understated horn section of the tender “Witness. "79 Cents (The Meow Song)" skewers sexism and discrimination with pointed humor over a circus bed of musical saw and horns.

Longtime fans who love Eilen Jewell in classic country mode will delight in the pedal steel driven "These Blues" and the sole cover on Gypsy, "You Cared Enough To Lie,” written by fellow Idahoan and country legend Pinto Bennett.

Rather than pulling artist and listener this way and that, the tensions within and between these twelve tracks propel Eilen Jewell’s eighth studio album forward as a remarkably cohesive full-length.

American Songwriter describes Eilen Jewell as, “one of America’s most intriguing, creative and idiosyncratic voices.” The Boise, Idaho songwriter is one of a kind.

That singular voice springs forth from a woman of more than one mind, and she taps into many of them on Gypsy (August, 2019 Signature Sounds Recordings). By turns personal and political, pissed off and blissed out, Jewell’s first album of original material since 2015 expands brief moments of joy into lifetimes, and distills epic sentiments and persistent doubts into succinct songs.

Jewell seamlessly blends heavy electric guitars and dirty fiddles on the rollicking country rocker “Crawl” with the sweet and understated horn section of the tender “Witness. "79 Cents (The Meow Song)" skewers sexism and discrimination with pointed humor over a circus bed of musical saw and horns.

Longtime fans who love Eilen Jewell in classic country mode will delight in the pedal steel driven "These Blues" and the sole cover on Gypsy, "You Cared Enough To Lie,” written by fellow Idahoan and country legend Pinto Bennett.

Rather than pulling artist and listener this way and that, the tensions within and between these twelve tracks propel Eilen Jewell’s eighth studio album forward as a remarkably cohesive full-length.

Cayucas with Special Guests Cape Francis and Flower Crown

Cayucas, the Los Angeles-based band known for their sunny, melodic surf rock and buoyant, rhythmic jams, know the value of a fresh start. After riding the wave that a pair of albums and half a decade in the indie rock spotlight brings, the group—the work of twin brothers Zach and Ben Yudin—found themselves facing an uncertain future after losing key parts of their infrastructure. Seizing upon the opportunity to make a change, they responded by injecting a new vibe into their bread and butter sound, resulting in no less than the album of their career.


Having burst upon the scene in 2012 with their debut, Bigfoot, Cayucas quickly earned all the spoils for which a celebrated indie upstart could hope. Following two and a half years of heavy touring, they released their second album, Dancing at the Blue Lagoon, in 2015, a slightly moodier but no less infectious affair. It represented a creative step forward for the band, and while its level of praise never quite equaled the fever pitch for their debut, fans enjoyed the Yudin’s growth as songwriters and the record’s emotional depth. As they took time to begin preparations for the next record, they were also faced with the task of finding a new record label and representation. Undeterred, the brothers embraced the opportunity to reset.


“Maybe we’re optimistic, but it felt good to get a fresh start,” Zach says. “We were able to view things in a positive light. We were lucky, in a sense; we were starting from scratch and had nothing to lose. And when you’re coming from a place like that, that’s when things can creatively become much more interesting.”


Zach relished this contract-free time, finding creative inspiration in not having to stick to a schedule and a new encouragement in rediscovering his love of songwriting. From the duplex he shares with his brother in LA’s Highland Park neighborhood, they revisited the songs they had begun for a new Cayucas album, many of which hearkened back to the band’s roots and the Beach Boys/surf rock sound of Bigfoot. Despite the feeling that persistence would eventually pay off, he and Ben began to realize that the fresh start they had been gifted could be used for an
even bigger change. And with that, Zach started writing in a completely new direction.


We had written about a dozen demos that harkened back to our original sound. “The magic wasn’t in the air, and we were somewhat forcing it,” he says of the first batch of post-Blue Lagoon songs. “Starting over again was where this album was born. My brother and I are very passionate about music; we can’t help but chase the next thread and get excited about new ideas. I’m always trying to evolve as a songwriter so I have to chase what’s interesting me at that time. And that summer I wanted to do something more pop. I’ve always loved pop music. When you’re in a band you create this box for yourself of what you can and can’t do, and it’s hard to get out of that box. We’d been trapped in this indie rock world, which was just one part of it; I wanted to branch out from there but I didn’t know how. When I reached down into my heart of hearts, I knew I wanted to do something more pop but in the style of Cayucas.”

With that epiphany firmly set in motion, Zach sat down and in a week during the summer of
2016 wrote “Winter of 98,” a nostalgia-baked sun ray which utilized a poppier chord progression as well as a more polished production. Excited by the sound, Zach and Ben were encouraged to continue in that direction.


“That was the spark that led to the album,” Zach says. “Writing ‘Winter of 98’ was kind of the impetus for how we could go more pop. Those are the moments that any creative person is hoping for, where you get really excited about an idea that seems to be working. Everything changed at that point.”


Over the next six months, Zach wrote the majority of what would become Real Life, the third full-length Cayucas record. They spent a few months searching for a producer, and in the fall of
2017, the Yudins entered the studio in Downtown Los Angeles with Dennis Herring (Elvis Costello, Twin Shadow, Wavves, Modest Mouse) to make five songs. They worked in large chunks of time, returning to the studio in the spring with another batch and finally finishing at the end of May 2018. The brothers credit Herring with helping to breathe even more life into the work; the producer loaded the stems of the duplex-recorded demos—drum samples, bass lines, and the like—into ProTools and from that base the songs were built. And if some of the drums sound familiar to longtime Cayucas fans, it’s no accident.


“It was mind blowing how Dennis helped us turn the demos into finished songs,” Zach says. “He opened our eyes to what’s possible with songwriting and producing. There was no live drumming, everything was sample based—which is hard to wrap your head around but that was
the pop sort of production I was getting into. I had tons of drum hits from our first album’s tracks like ‘High School Lover’ and ‘Cayucos’ and we chopped them up, which was great because it let us hold on to some of that vibe. There’s still a little nostalgia and it still feels like a Cayucas record.”


Nostalgia is a concept that will always be a huge part of Cayucas’s music, and the songs on Real Life are no different. As Ben says, “Looking back is on one of our favorite things to talk about. We’re just fascinated by the constant evolution of people, friends from high school and college. It makes for great lyrics and subject matter.” From the lament in “Winter of 98” of “if only I could have back yesterday” to tales of playing pool in Santa Monica bars to the subject of first
single “Jessica WJ,” a bass-playing friend from their high school days, the band’s thematic flag is planted firmly in the past.


As for the album’s title song, “Real Life” is a nod to both the nostalgia the brothers obsess over as well as the positive thinking they embraced during the album’s beginnings. “That’s another thing I like to write about, this blind optimism,” Zach says. “‘Real Life’ is an ode to my mid-20s, writing music for fun and just waiting for real life to begin. I like lyrics with a lot of imagery, and it’s filled with moments from when I was going through the motions work-wise but writing
music, being optimistic about the future and hoping one day to be able to release an album and play a show.”


It’s a sentiment that hasn’t left Zach Yudin’s heart of hearts, and one that he shares dearly with his twin brother. For Cayucas, a full embrace of optimism, the joy of creating, and a fresh start has gotten them this far, and promises to carry them even farther.


“I’m just happy to still be excited about writing music,” Zach says. “That feeling comes & goes but it hasn’t died.” I think that’s the only way to be successful is if you have a feeling inside that motivates you through the good times and the bad. The excitement keeps pushing you towards the next big idea—I still sit down at a piano every day and write—but we’re in a good place. We
made the album that we wanted to make, and that’s the goal, creatively. I can’t imagine it playing out any better.”

Cayucas, the Los Angeles-based band known for their sunny, melodic surf rock and buoyant, rhythmic jams, know the value of a fresh start. After riding the wave that a pair of albums and half a decade in the indie rock spotlight brings, the group—the work of twin brothers Zach and Ben Yudin—found themselves facing an uncertain future after losing key parts of their infrastructure. Seizing upon the opportunity to make a change, they responded by injecting a new vibe into their bread and butter sound, resulting in no less than the album of their career.


Having burst upon the scene in 2012 with their debut, Bigfoot, Cayucas quickly earned all the spoils for which a celebrated indie upstart could hope. Following two and a half years of heavy touring, they released their second album, Dancing at the Blue Lagoon, in 2015, a slightly moodier but no less infectious affair. It represented a creative step forward for the band, and while its level of praise never quite equaled the fever pitch for their debut, fans enjoyed the Yudin’s growth as songwriters and the record’s emotional depth. As they took time to begin preparations for the next record, they were also faced with the task of finding a new record label and representation. Undeterred, the brothers embraced the opportunity to reset.


“Maybe we’re optimistic, but it felt good to get a fresh start,” Zach says. “We were able to view things in a positive light. We were lucky, in a sense; we were starting from scratch and had nothing to lose. And when you’re coming from a place like that, that’s when things can creatively become much more interesting.”


Zach relished this contract-free time, finding creative inspiration in not having to stick to a schedule and a new encouragement in rediscovering his love of songwriting. From the duplex he shares with his brother in LA’s Highland Park neighborhood, they revisited the songs they had begun for a new Cayucas album, many of which hearkened back to the band’s roots and the Beach Boys/surf rock sound of Bigfoot. Despite the feeling that persistence would eventually pay off, he and Ben began to realize that the fresh start they had been gifted could be used for an
even bigger change. And with that, Zach started writing in a completely new direction.


We had written about a dozen demos that harkened back to our original sound. “The magic wasn’t in the air, and we were somewhat forcing it,” he says of the first batch of post-Blue Lagoon songs. “Starting over again was where this album was born. My brother and I are very passionate about music; we can’t help but chase the next thread and get excited about new ideas. I’m always trying to evolve as a songwriter so I have to chase what’s interesting me at that time. And that summer I wanted to do something more pop. I’ve always loved pop music. When you’re in a band you create this box for yourself of what you can and can’t do, and it’s hard to get out of that box. We’d been trapped in this indie rock world, which was just one part of it; I wanted to branch out from there but I didn’t know how. When I reached down into my heart of hearts, I knew I wanted to do something more pop but in the style of Cayucas.”

With that epiphany firmly set in motion, Zach sat down and in a week during the summer of
2016 wrote “Winter of 98,” a nostalgia-baked sun ray which utilized a poppier chord progression as well as a more polished production. Excited by the sound, Zach and Ben were encouraged to continue in that direction.


“That was the spark that led to the album,” Zach says. “Writing ‘Winter of 98’ was kind of the impetus for how we could go more pop. Those are the moments that any creative person is hoping for, where you get really excited about an idea that seems to be working. Everything changed at that point.”


Over the next six months, Zach wrote the majority of what would become Real Life, the third full-length Cayucas record. They spent a few months searching for a producer, and in the fall of
2017, the Yudins entered the studio in Downtown Los Angeles with Dennis Herring (Elvis Costello, Twin Shadow, Wavves, Modest Mouse) to make five songs. They worked in large chunks of time, returning to the studio in the spring with another batch and finally finishing at the end of May 2018. The brothers credit Herring with helping to breathe even more life into the work; the producer loaded the stems of the duplex-recorded demos—drum samples, bass lines, and the like—into ProTools and from that base the songs were built. And if some of the drums sound familiar to longtime Cayucas fans, it’s no accident.


“It was mind blowing how Dennis helped us turn the demos into finished songs,” Zach says. “He opened our eyes to what’s possible with songwriting and producing. There was no live drumming, everything was sample based—which is hard to wrap your head around but that was
the pop sort of production I was getting into. I had tons of drum hits from our first album’s tracks like ‘High School Lover’ and ‘Cayucos’ and we chopped them up, which was great because it let us hold on to some of that vibe. There’s still a little nostalgia and it still feels like a Cayucas record.”


Nostalgia is a concept that will always be a huge part of Cayucas’s music, and the songs on Real Life are no different. As Ben says, “Looking back is on one of our favorite things to talk about. We’re just fascinated by the constant evolution of people, friends from high school and college. It makes for great lyrics and subject matter.” From the lament in “Winter of 98” of “if only I could have back yesterday” to tales of playing pool in Santa Monica bars to the subject of first
single “Jessica WJ,” a bass-playing friend from their high school days, the band’s thematic flag is planted firmly in the past.


As for the album’s title song, “Real Life” is a nod to both the nostalgia the brothers obsess over as well as the positive thinking they embraced during the album’s beginnings. “That’s another thing I like to write about, this blind optimism,” Zach says. “‘Real Life’ is an ode to my mid-20s, writing music for fun and just waiting for real life to begin. I like lyrics with a lot of imagery, and it’s filled with moments from when I was going through the motions work-wise but writing
music, being optimistic about the future and hoping one day to be able to release an album and play a show.”


It’s a sentiment that hasn’t left Zach Yudin’s heart of hearts, and one that he shares dearly with his twin brother. For Cayucas, a full embrace of optimism, the joy of creating, and a fresh start has gotten them this far, and promises to carry them even farther.


“I’m just happy to still be excited about writing music,” Zach says. “That feeling comes & goes but it hasn’t died.” I think that’s the only way to be successful is if you have a feeling inside that motivates you through the good times and the bad. The excitement keeps pushing you towards the next big idea—I still sit down at a piano every day and write—but we’re in a good place. We
made the album that we wanted to make, and that’s the goal, creatively. I can’t imagine it playing out any better.”

(Early Show) Rob Williams and the Bluesdrivers with Special Guest Jimmy Marino

Having the blues does not always mean sadness and pain. Blues music is an expression of emotion from deep inside. It means something and different to everyone,but the blues has one common goal in mind: its a release and a way to celebrate life, love, pain and happiness.

Rob Williams began his journey at the age 8 when his mother bought him his first guitar. He taught himself to play from there, he played in church groups and surrounded himself with music and was in his first band at 12.

Playing all over the east coast, Pittsburgh has remained his home and there he has honed his skills and style by playing with many blues musicians in Pittsburgh such as the great Chismo Charles.

With many influences in his music he has combined these influences into a melting pot of guitar driven music and soulful playing. Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joe bonamassa, Tommy castro, Walter Trout, and Albert Cummings are among the styles your ears will enjoy at one of the shows.

The Bluesdrivers are from many backgrounds and areas, with Steve Mulkerrin on Bass guitar who has played with nashville greats and brings the low grooves to the front with his 5 string mastery.

Ben Skinner on drums brings his unique style and flavor to the band with his influemces being many from jazz, rock and funk.

John Hicks on The harmonica is a master at the blues harp and has been playing for 40 years with many greats and bands from Pittsburgh. His soul bending style is a treat to behold and to see him is to believe him.

Having the blues does not always mean sadness and pain. Blues music is an expression of emotion from deep inside. It means something and different to everyone,but the blues has one common goal in mind: its a release and a way to celebrate life, love, pain and happiness.

Rob Williams began his journey at the age 8 when his mother bought him his first guitar. He taught himself to play from there, he played in church groups and surrounded himself with music and was in his first band at 12.

Playing all over the east coast, Pittsburgh has remained his home and there he has honed his skills and style by playing with many blues musicians in Pittsburgh such as the great Chismo Charles.

With many influences in his music he has combined these influences into a melting pot of guitar driven music and soulful playing. Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joe bonamassa, Tommy castro, Walter Trout, and Albert Cummings are among the styles your ears will enjoy at one of the shows.

The Bluesdrivers are from many backgrounds and areas, with Steve Mulkerrin on Bass guitar who has played with nashville greats and brings the low grooves to the front with his 5 string mastery.

Ben Skinner on drums brings his unique style and flavor to the band with his influemces being many from jazz, rock and funk.

John Hicks on The harmonica is a master at the blues harp and has been playing for 40 years with many greats and bands from Pittsburgh. His soul bending style is a treat to behold and to see him is to believe him.

(Late Show) L.O.S. with Special Guests Charelle Unique, Simone Davis, West the Composer & Via Lou

Hip-Hop artist L.O.S is currently shaking up the lyrical scene with his clever wordplay, explosive sound, and charismatic style. It doesn’t take much to tell that L.O.S is sticking to his east coast roots and bearing hip-hop on his back. His aim at every moment is to fuse the gap between musicality and lyrical wordplay. With an unstoppable desire to carve a niche for himself within the hip hop community, L.O.S has journeyed across the country as guest performer for acts such as Cassidy, Fabulous, Maino, Jadakiss and more as part of the accomplished rap duo Folkland. Now he’s back focusing on a solo effort with the release of his new single "Phresh Li".

Hip-Hop artist L.O.S is currently shaking up the lyrical scene with his clever wordplay, explosive sound, and charismatic style. It doesn’t take much to tell that L.O.S is sticking to his east coast roots and bearing hip-hop on his back. His aim at every moment is to fuse the gap between musicality and lyrical wordplay. With an unstoppable desire to carve a niche for himself within the hip hop community, L.O.S has journeyed across the country as guest performer for acts such as Cassidy, Fabulous, Maino, Jadakiss and more as part of the accomplished rap duo Folkland. Now he’s back focusing on a solo effort with the release of his new single "Phresh Li".

Ellen Starski with Special Guest Robin and Bob

During the years leading up to her solo debut, The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants, songwriter Ellen Starski explored both her homeland and herself, traveling from the coal country of rural Pennsylvania to the roots-music hotbed of Nashville, Tennessee.



Released in May 2018, The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants acts as the soundtrack to that period of self-discovery. It's an autobiographical album, rooted in a lush mix of indie-folk, orchestral Americana, and organic pop. Starski wrote the songs during a span of a dozen years, tracing her trek from Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania — where she began playing guitar at 19 years old, before cutting her teeth as the singer of a bluesy bar band — to Knoxville, where she kicked off her solo career with pub gigs and open mic performances. The journey then winds its way to Nashville, Starski's adopted hometown since 2008. It was there, alongside producer Anne McCue and a handful of the town's top sideman, that she recorded The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants.



It's a record that's as dynamic and driven as its creator. Sonically influenced by Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan's Desire, and the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant collaboration Raising Sand, The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants offers up a combination of sweeping string arrangements, stripped-down piano ballads, finger-plucked folksongs, and everything in between, all held together by a voice that's both emotional and elastic. "I've been singing in front of people since I was a child," says Starski, whose lyrics shine a light on the triumphs, missteps, and stories she's picked up along the way. "I've been writing songs for years, too, but I'd always hide them when I was singing with blues bands and funk groups. They didn't fit. Things changed once I had my daughter. It opened up a whole new world to me, and I knew I was strong enough to express how I feel."

The album's title nods to the symbiotic relationship between peony flowers and ants, who rely on one another for growth. Peonies produce nectar outside of their buds, encouraging ants to climb up the flowers' stalks in search of food. In doing so, the plants' dense flowers are opened. At the end of the process, the plant fully blooms and the ants walk away with full stomachs. Starski's writing explores similar themes of give-and-take and cause-and-effect.

"The record is about growth," she explains. "It's about all these things that have happened to me, which have helped me blossom as a human being."



There are songs about loss, heartbreak, and family, all of them filled with details from Starksi's own life. "Miss You Mary" pays tribute to her mother, who helped steer her daughter out of a dark hole as a teenager. Laced with acoustic guitars and cinematic strings arranged by McCue, "Ode to Nanny and Cookie" opens the album with a salute to Starksi's two grandmothers. Meanwhile, her own daughter inspired the lovely, lilting "Daughter of the Sea," while the country-inspired "Honey I'm Not Him" was written during a nighttime drive around along the Nashville backroads, with her infant sleeping in the backseat. Personal anecdotes are woven throughout, but The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants ultimately delivers a universal message: that you cannot come to grips with yourself until you come to grips with the beautiful wreckage of your past.



Raised on a wide spread of music — the Lilith Fair-era earnestness of Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan; the heartland rock of Tom Petty; the moody, nocturnal music of Portishead; the articulate, lyric-based writing of Aimee Mann — Ellen Starski shows her full range as a writer, vocalist, and storyteller with The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants. The album is a team effort, with a number of music-industry heavyweights (including drummer Paul Griffith, bassist Jimmy Sullivan, pianist Carl Byron, strings Deanie Richardson, manager Erin Anderson, and producer/guitarist/mentor McCue) all pulling their weight. Starski is the captain of this ship, though, and Peonies points her toward a genre of her own making.

During the years leading up to her solo debut, The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants, songwriter Ellen Starski explored both her homeland and herself, traveling from the coal country of rural Pennsylvania to the roots-music hotbed of Nashville, Tennessee.



Released in May 2018, The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants acts as the soundtrack to that period of self-discovery. It's an autobiographical album, rooted in a lush mix of indie-folk, orchestral Americana, and organic pop. Starski wrote the songs during a span of a dozen years, tracing her trek from Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania — where she began playing guitar at 19 years old, before cutting her teeth as the singer of a bluesy bar band — to Knoxville, where she kicked off her solo career with pub gigs and open mic performances. The journey then winds its way to Nashville, Starski's adopted hometown since 2008. It was there, alongside producer Anne McCue and a handful of the town's top sideman, that she recorded The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants.



It's a record that's as dynamic and driven as its creator. Sonically influenced by Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan's Desire, and the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant collaboration Raising Sand, The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants offers up a combination of sweeping string arrangements, stripped-down piano ballads, finger-plucked folksongs, and everything in between, all held together by a voice that's both emotional and elastic. "I've been singing in front of people since I was a child," says Starski, whose lyrics shine a light on the triumphs, missteps, and stories she's picked up along the way. "I've been writing songs for years, too, but I'd always hide them when I was singing with blues bands and funk groups. They didn't fit. Things changed once I had my daughter. It opened up a whole new world to me, and I knew I was strong enough to express how I feel."

The album's title nods to the symbiotic relationship between peony flowers and ants, who rely on one another for growth. Peonies produce nectar outside of their buds, encouraging ants to climb up the flowers' stalks in search of food. In doing so, the plants' dense flowers are opened. At the end of the process, the plant fully blooms and the ants walk away with full stomachs. Starski's writing explores similar themes of give-and-take and cause-and-effect.

"The record is about growth," she explains. "It's about all these things that have happened to me, which have helped me blossom as a human being."



There are songs about loss, heartbreak, and family, all of them filled with details from Starksi's own life. "Miss You Mary" pays tribute to her mother, who helped steer her daughter out of a dark hole as a teenager. Laced with acoustic guitars and cinematic strings arranged by McCue, "Ode to Nanny and Cookie" opens the album with a salute to Starksi's two grandmothers. Meanwhile, her own daughter inspired the lovely, lilting "Daughter of the Sea," while the country-inspired "Honey I'm Not Him" was written during a nighttime drive around along the Nashville backroads, with her infant sleeping in the backseat. Personal anecdotes are woven throughout, but The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants ultimately delivers a universal message: that you cannot come to grips with yourself until you come to grips with the beautiful wreckage of your past.



Raised on a wide spread of music — the Lilith Fair-era earnestness of Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan; the heartland rock of Tom Petty; the moody, nocturnal music of Portishead; the articulate, lyric-based writing of Aimee Mann — Ellen Starski shows her full range as a writer, vocalist, and storyteller with The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants. The album is a team effort, with a number of music-industry heavyweights (including drummer Paul Griffith, bassist Jimmy Sullivan, pianist Carl Byron, strings Deanie Richardson, manager Erin Anderson, and producer/guitarist/mentor McCue) all pulling their weight. Starski is the captain of this ship, though, and Peonies points her toward a genre of her own making.

Michigan Rattlers with Special Guest Oliver Hazard

Lifelong friends and deep-north natives, Michigan Rattlers play heavy-hearted folk-rock with an aching dose of Midwestern nice. Graham Young (guitar), Adam Reed (upright bass), and Christian Wilder (piano) began writing music and performing together in their Northern Michigan high school.

“Petoskey is a small place. Beautiful, but secluded. It’s hard to start a musical career in a place where there are more deer than people.”

Still, they regularly played every bar, cafe, and stage in town, developing a musical chemistry informed by the likes of AC/DC, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Seger, and more.

After a few years apart, Reed and Young settled down in Los Angeles, recorded a short demo, and began playing locally. The demo found its way into the hands of super-producer Johnny K (Plain White T's, 3 Doors Down), and they cut the bulk of their first EP at NRG Studios in just one day.

"My favorite music is recorded that way," continues Reed. "You get in a room, plug in, and cut songs live. The energy of the recording comes directly from the physical performance, and it puts the listener into that specific time and place."

This self-titled Michigan Rattlers EP attracted glowing reviews from No Depression, Bluegrass Situation, B3 Science, and Rolling Stone, who named the band one of their “Ten New Country Artists You Need To Know” in 2016. They spent the rest of that year and much of the next touring in support of this release.

In September 2017, Pianist Christian Wilder was added to the band’s lineup. Now a trio, the group headed into the studio to record their newest EP, Wasting the Meaning. Comprised of three cover songs, the project was conceived as a way to explore deeper into the recording process and pay homage to some of their favorite songwriters

Lifelong friends and deep-north natives, Michigan Rattlers play heavy-hearted folk-rock with an aching dose of Midwestern nice. Graham Young (guitar), Adam Reed (upright bass), and Christian Wilder (piano) began writing music and performing together in their Northern Michigan high school.

“Petoskey is a small place. Beautiful, but secluded. It’s hard to start a musical career in a place where there are more deer than people.”

Still, they regularly played every bar, cafe, and stage in town, developing a musical chemistry informed by the likes of AC/DC, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Seger, and more.

After a few years apart, Reed and Young settled down in Los Angeles, recorded a short demo, and began playing locally. The demo found its way into the hands of super-producer Johnny K (Plain White T's, 3 Doors Down), and they cut the bulk of their first EP at NRG Studios in just one day.

"My favorite music is recorded that way," continues Reed. "You get in a room, plug in, and cut songs live. The energy of the recording comes directly from the physical performance, and it puts the listener into that specific time and place."

This self-titled Michigan Rattlers EP attracted glowing reviews from No Depression, Bluegrass Situation, B3 Science, and Rolling Stone, who named the band one of their “Ten New Country Artists You Need To Know” in 2016. They spent the rest of that year and much of the next touring in support of this release.

In September 2017, Pianist Christian Wilder was added to the band’s lineup. Now a trio, the group headed into the studio to record their newest EP, Wasting the Meaning. Comprised of three cover songs, the project was conceived as a way to explore deeper into the recording process and pay homage to some of their favorite songwriters

@clubcafelive

56-58 South 12th Street, Pittsburgh PA 15203 (In Pittsburgh’s Historic South Side)