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pittsburgh, pa
Bill Toms and Hard Rain (Featuring The Soulville Horns) - 'Good For My Soul' Record Release Concert (Night 1) with Special Guest Marc Reisman and the Strong Way Band

Will Kimbrough (producer) 2017:

Bill Toms is a hard working, blue collar, blues guitar playing, soul shouting poet.

He's no stranger to the road, nor is he a stranger to a steel mill. No stranger to his heart, his conscience---you can feel it in these songs.

Hard Rain is not just a brilliant, post-Apocalyptic Bob Dylan song. Hard Rain is Bill Toms' guitar slinging, horn blowing, pure soul back-beat band.

No Hard Rain, no Bill Toms. No Bill Toms, No Hard Rain.

For the second time, I was asked to come help produce a Bill Toms and Hard Rain album at Studio L in Weirton, West Virginia---Rick Witkowski's place. Yeah, that Rick Witkowski from Crack the Sky. Creem Magazine. Yes, I am a rock n roll kid who grew up with Creem Magazine.

The poetry of recording this real deal blue collar soul band in Weirton, WV---where Michael Cimino's epic tragedy "The Deer Hunter" was filmed---cannot be overlooked. Not that we took off into the mountains, got loaded and chased ungulates around---nor chased Meryl Streep around. But in that setting, in mid-Winter, in the wake of the election of Donald J Trump as President of the United States of America—it all seemed poetic to say the least.

Bill Toms will sit you down and strategize a soul song with such sincerity and seriousness---soul music is serious business when it comes to Bill's art, his music, his band. His band consists of some of the most talented musicians in the music world. Phil Brontz on sax, Steve Binsberger on piano and organ, Tom Valentine on bass, Tom Breiding on guitar, and Bernie Herr on the drums. Throw in the Soulville Horns (Steve Graham - trombone, JD Chaison - trumpet) and the rhythm and soul is oozing from the studio.

We compared what we were doing to our favorite Stax Records. To the Willie Mitchell produced Hi Records masterpieces---Al Green, Syl Johnson. To the soul gospel of the Staple Singers. To the east coast soul of the O'Jays, Dyke and the Blazers. We wanted to make sure we did not smooth away the edges---not just rough edges---but the edges of the sound itself. If a guitar was kind of raw and wild---keep that. If the drums sounded like a man trying to beat his way out of the trunk of a '73 Lincoln---keep it. If Bill's voice cracked a little because he was singing so hard and in the moment that he rasped like a rusty cog at US Steel---keep it.

Me, I just tagged along, played rhythm guitar, cheered them on, played some slide guitar, sang some harmonies---and had the time of my life.

The very night I arrived home after that long drive from Weirton, WV to Nashville, my wife and I watched "The Deer Hunter"---if you've seen it, you know it's dark and heavy. But all I could think about was jumping up and down with Bill Toms and Rick Witkowski, making the Marvin Gaye-esque party atmosphere on "Going Back To Memphis" in Rick's basement studio, right there in Weirton, by the rusted out mill.

These are desperate times, indeed. But I'm sad no more. The human spirit lives in us all; but the soul shouting spirit is particularly lively up around Pittsburgh these days, in the soul blues poetry of Mister Bill Toms and his real deal band, Hard Rain.

Will Kimbrough (producer) 2017:

Bill Toms is a hard working, blue collar, blues guitar playing, soul shouting poet.

He's no stranger to the road, nor is he a stranger to a steel mill. No stranger to his heart, his conscience---you can feel it in these songs.

Hard Rain is not just a brilliant, post-Apocalyptic Bob Dylan song. Hard Rain is Bill Toms' guitar slinging, horn blowing, pure soul back-beat band.

No Hard Rain, no Bill Toms. No Bill Toms, No Hard Rain.

For the second time, I was asked to come help produce a Bill Toms and Hard Rain album at Studio L in Weirton, West Virginia---Rick Witkowski's place. Yeah, that Rick Witkowski from Crack the Sky. Creem Magazine. Yes, I am a rock n roll kid who grew up with Creem Magazine.

The poetry of recording this real deal blue collar soul band in Weirton, WV---where Michael Cimino's epic tragedy "The Deer Hunter" was filmed---cannot be overlooked. Not that we took off into the mountains, got loaded and chased ungulates around---nor chased Meryl Streep around. But in that setting, in mid-Winter, in the wake of the election of Donald J Trump as President of the United States of America—it all seemed poetic to say the least.

Bill Toms will sit you down and strategize a soul song with such sincerity and seriousness---soul music is serious business when it comes to Bill's art, his music, his band. His band consists of some of the most talented musicians in the music world. Phil Brontz on sax, Steve Binsberger on piano and organ, Tom Valentine on bass, Tom Breiding on guitar, and Bernie Herr on the drums. Throw in the Soulville Horns (Steve Graham - trombone, JD Chaison - trumpet) and the rhythm and soul is oozing from the studio.

We compared what we were doing to our favorite Stax Records. To the Willie Mitchell produced Hi Records masterpieces---Al Green, Syl Johnson. To the soul gospel of the Staple Singers. To the east coast soul of the O'Jays, Dyke and the Blazers. We wanted to make sure we did not smooth away the edges---not just rough edges---but the edges of the sound itself. If a guitar was kind of raw and wild---keep that. If the drums sounded like a man trying to beat his way out of the trunk of a '73 Lincoln---keep it. If Bill's voice cracked a little because he was singing so hard and in the moment that he rasped like a rusty cog at US Steel---keep it.

Me, I just tagged along, played rhythm guitar, cheered them on, played some slide guitar, sang some harmonies---and had the time of my life.

The very night I arrived home after that long drive from Weirton, WV to Nashville, my wife and I watched "The Deer Hunter"---if you've seen it, you know it's dark and heavy. But all I could think about was jumping up and down with Bill Toms and Rick Witkowski, making the Marvin Gaye-esque party atmosphere on "Going Back To Memphis" in Rick's basement studio, right there in Weirton, by the rusted out mill.

These are desperate times, indeed. But I'm sad no more. The human spirit lives in us all; but the soul shouting spirit is particularly lively up around Pittsburgh these days, in the soul blues poetry of Mister Bill Toms and his real deal band, Hard Rain.

Bill Toms and Hard Rain (Featuring The Soulville Horns) - 'Good For My Soul' Record Release Concert (Night 2) with Special Guest Marc Reisman and the Strong Way Band

Will Kimbrough (producer) 2017:

Bill Toms is a hard working, blue collar, blues guitar playing, soul shouting poet.

He's no stranger to the road, nor is he a stranger to a steel mill. No stranger to his heart, his conscience---you can feel it in these songs.

Hard Rain is not just a brilliant, post-Apocalyptic Bob Dylan song. Hard Rain is Bill Toms' guitar slinging, horn blowing, pure soul back-beat band.

No Hard Rain, no Bill Toms. No Bill Toms, No Hard Rain.

For the second time, I was asked to come help produce a Bill Toms and Hard Rain album at Studio L in Weirton, West Virginia---Rick Witkowski's place. Yeah, that Rick Witkowski from Crack the Sky. Creem Magazine. Yes, I am a rock n roll kid who grew up with Creem Magazine.

The poetry of recording this real deal blue collar soul band in Weirton, WV---where Michael Cimino's epic tragedy "The Deer Hunter" was filmed---cannot be overlooked. Not that we took off into the mountains, got loaded and chased ungulates around---nor chased Meryl Streep around. But in that setting, in mid-Winter, in the wake of the election of Donald J Trump as President of the United States of America—it all seemed poetic to say the least.

Bill Toms will sit you down and strategize a soul song with such sincerity and seriousness---soul music is serious business when it comes to Bill's art, his music, his band. His band consists of some of the most talented musicians in the music world. Phil Brontz on sax, Steve Binsberger on piano and organ, Tom Valentine on bass, Tom Breiding on guitar, and Bernie Herr on the drums. Throw in the Soulville Horns (Steve Graham - trombone, JD Chaison - trumpet) and the rhythm and soul is oozing from the studio.

We compared what we were doing to our favorite Stax Records. To the Willie Mitchell produced Hi Records masterpieces---Al Green, Syl Johnson. To the soul gospel of the Staple Singers. To the east coast soul of the O'Jays, Dyke and the Blazers. We wanted to make sure we did not smooth away the edges---not just rough edges---but the edges of the sound itself. If a guitar was kind of raw and wild---keep that. If the drums sounded like a man trying to beat his way out of the trunk of a '73 Lincoln---keep it. If Bill's voice cracked a little because he was singing so hard and in the moment that he rasped like a rusty cog at US Steel---keep it.

Me, I just tagged along, played rhythm guitar, cheered them on, played some slide guitar, sang some harmonies---and had the time of my life.

The very night I arrived home after that long drive from Weirton, WV to Nashville, my wife and I watched "The Deer Hunter"---if you've seen it, you know it's dark and heavy. But all I could think about was jumping up and down with Bill Toms and Rick Witkowski, making the Marvin Gaye-esque party atmosphere on "Going Back To Memphis" in Rick's basement studio, right there in Weirton, by the rusted out mill.

These are desperate times, indeed. But I'm sad no more. The human spirit lives in us all; but the soul shouting spirit is particularly lively up around Pittsburgh these days, in the soul blues poetry of Mister Bill Toms and his real deal band, Hard Rain.

Will Kimbrough (producer) 2017:

Bill Toms is a hard working, blue collar, blues guitar playing, soul shouting poet.

He's no stranger to the road, nor is he a stranger to a steel mill. No stranger to his heart, his conscience---you can feel it in these songs.

Hard Rain is not just a brilliant, post-Apocalyptic Bob Dylan song. Hard Rain is Bill Toms' guitar slinging, horn blowing, pure soul back-beat band.

No Hard Rain, no Bill Toms. No Bill Toms, No Hard Rain.

For the second time, I was asked to come help produce a Bill Toms and Hard Rain album at Studio L in Weirton, West Virginia---Rick Witkowski's place. Yeah, that Rick Witkowski from Crack the Sky. Creem Magazine. Yes, I am a rock n roll kid who grew up with Creem Magazine.

The poetry of recording this real deal blue collar soul band in Weirton, WV---where Michael Cimino's epic tragedy "The Deer Hunter" was filmed---cannot be overlooked. Not that we took off into the mountains, got loaded and chased ungulates around---nor chased Meryl Streep around. But in that setting, in mid-Winter, in the wake of the election of Donald J Trump as President of the United States of America—it all seemed poetic to say the least.

Bill Toms will sit you down and strategize a soul song with such sincerity and seriousness---soul music is serious business when it comes to Bill's art, his music, his band. His band consists of some of the most talented musicians in the music world. Phil Brontz on sax, Steve Binsberger on piano and organ, Tom Valentine on bass, Tom Breiding on guitar, and Bernie Herr on the drums. Throw in the Soulville Horns (Steve Graham - trombone, JD Chaison - trumpet) and the rhythm and soul is oozing from the studio.

We compared what we were doing to our favorite Stax Records. To the Willie Mitchell produced Hi Records masterpieces---Al Green, Syl Johnson. To the soul gospel of the Staple Singers. To the east coast soul of the O'Jays, Dyke and the Blazers. We wanted to make sure we did not smooth away the edges---not just rough edges---but the edges of the sound itself. If a guitar was kind of raw and wild---keep that. If the drums sounded like a man trying to beat his way out of the trunk of a '73 Lincoln---keep it. If Bill's voice cracked a little because he was singing so hard and in the moment that he rasped like a rusty cog at US Steel---keep it.

Me, I just tagged along, played rhythm guitar, cheered them on, played some slide guitar, sang some harmonies---and had the time of my life.

The very night I arrived home after that long drive from Weirton, WV to Nashville, my wife and I watched "The Deer Hunter"---if you've seen it, you know it's dark and heavy. But all I could think about was jumping up and down with Bill Toms and Rick Witkowski, making the Marvin Gaye-esque party atmosphere on "Going Back To Memphis" in Rick's basement studio, right there in Weirton, by the rusted out mill.

These are desperate times, indeed. But I'm sad no more. The human spirit lives in us all; but the soul shouting spirit is particularly lively up around Pittsburgh these days, in the soul blues poetry of Mister Bill Toms and his real deal band, Hard Rain.

Gurf Morlix with Special Guest Vireo (Solo)

Visiting planet Gurf has always been an enlightening experience. After all, this Gurf Morlix fellow - Buffalo born, Texas bred - has provided us with countless indelible musical moments in the last 40-plus years: his exemplary guitar and production work with Lucinda Williams; his instrumental accompaniment to artists ranging from Blaze Foley to Warren Zevon; his production of watermark albums for artists such as Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen and Mary Gauthier - and, since 2000, a series of eight solo records that have a singular worldview and can be both harrowing and heartening, often at the same time.
Now, prepare yourself for "The Soul And The Heal". Gurf Morlix's ninth album is another chapter in a songbook that pithily relates the human condition. But though Morlix's signatures are still present on this masterstroke - lyrics that don't waste a syllable, instrumentation without a spare note - there is also a hopefulness and vulnerability not always readily evident on his recent releases. The fact that "The Soul And The Heal" is pivotal for Gurf is immediately clear from the striking front cover image of a heart-shaped cherry with its pit exposed, and from the stark title that he says speaks to "the healing of the soul from all the damage we inflict on ourselves".
It would be too easy to attribute Gurf's evolution to the fact that in February 2016 he suffered a heart attack while dead stopped in the fast lane, in a traffic jam, on his way to a gig. In fact these new songs were all written before this episode, from which he has fully recovered. But there's no doubt the emotions stirred by the unexpected December 2014 passing of Gurf's musical mate, rock keyboard legend Ian McLagan, contributed to the career pinnacle that "The Soul And The Heal" is for Morlix.
The album was recorded at his Rootball home studio. Morlix comes by his musical minimalism naturally: "It's the way my brain is wired. I like to hear everything clearly." It's a solitary sound, different from the sonics he brought to his outside productions - but, as always, it's anchored by Morlix's sinewy, expressive guitar. The other constant is drummer Rick Richards - who shares Morlix's straightforward aesthetic (and whose rhythms Gurf echoes with two foot drums during his almost 100 solo gigs a year).
This batch of songs yields the expected Morlix darkness and humor, but woven between are numbers imbued with a warm light. The call to positive action on "Move Someone," the mindfulness of "Right Now" and the sensitive finale "The Best We Can" balance this focused collection, an album that manages to run the gamut of emotions without being cloying or obvious.
With "The Soul And The Heal" Morlix continues to create his own singular musical universe, but the yin and yang of his outlook has never been as in sync as it is now, making it even more inviting to join him on Planet Gurf.

Jody Denberg 2017

Visiting planet Gurf has always been an enlightening experience. After all, this Gurf Morlix fellow - Buffalo born, Texas bred - has provided us with countless indelible musical moments in the last 40-plus years: his exemplary guitar and production work with Lucinda Williams; his instrumental accompaniment to artists ranging from Blaze Foley to Warren Zevon; his production of watermark albums for artists such as Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen and Mary Gauthier - and, since 2000, a series of eight solo records that have a singular worldview and can be both harrowing and heartening, often at the same time.
Now, prepare yourself for "The Soul And The Heal". Gurf Morlix's ninth album is another chapter in a songbook that pithily relates the human condition. But though Morlix's signatures are still present on this masterstroke - lyrics that don't waste a syllable, instrumentation without a spare note - there is also a hopefulness and vulnerability not always readily evident on his recent releases. The fact that "The Soul And The Heal" is pivotal for Gurf is immediately clear from the striking front cover image of a heart-shaped cherry with its pit exposed, and from the stark title that he says speaks to "the healing of the soul from all the damage we inflict on ourselves".
It would be too easy to attribute Gurf's evolution to the fact that in February 2016 he suffered a heart attack while dead stopped in the fast lane, in a traffic jam, on his way to a gig. In fact these new songs were all written before this episode, from which he has fully recovered. But there's no doubt the emotions stirred by the unexpected December 2014 passing of Gurf's musical mate, rock keyboard legend Ian McLagan, contributed to the career pinnacle that "The Soul And The Heal" is for Morlix.
The album was recorded at his Rootball home studio. Morlix comes by his musical minimalism naturally: "It's the way my brain is wired. I like to hear everything clearly." It's a solitary sound, different from the sonics he brought to his outside productions - but, as always, it's anchored by Morlix's sinewy, expressive guitar. The other constant is drummer Rick Richards - who shares Morlix's straightforward aesthetic (and whose rhythms Gurf echoes with two foot drums during his almost 100 solo gigs a year).
This batch of songs yields the expected Morlix darkness and humor, but woven between are numbers imbued with a warm light. The call to positive action on "Move Someone," the mindfulness of "Right Now" and the sensitive finale "The Best We Can" balance this focused collection, an album that manages to run the gamut of emotions without being cloying or obvious.
With "The Soul And The Heal" Morlix continues to create his own singular musical universe, but the yin and yang of his outlook has never been as in sync as it is now, making it even more inviting to join him on Planet Gurf.

Jody Denberg 2017

An Evening With Slaid Cleaves

Slaid Cleaves spins stories with a novelist's eye and a poet's heart. Twenty years into his career, the celebrated songwriter's Still Fighting the War spotlights an artist in peak form. Cleaves' seamless new collection delivers vivid snapshots as wildly cinematic as they are carefully chiseled. Dress William Faulkner with faded jeans and a worn six-string for a good idea. "Slaid's a craftsman," says Terri Hendrix, who sings harmony on "Texas Love Song." "He goes about his songs like a woodworker."

Accordingly, Cleaves' earthy narratives stand oak strong. "Men go off to war for a hundred reasons/But they all come home with the same demons," he sings on the album's title track. "Some you can keep at bay for a while/Some will pin you to the floor/You've been home for a couple of years now, buddy/But you're still fighting the war." Few writers frame bruised souls as clearly. Fewer still deliver a punch with such striking immediacy.

"I started ‘Still Fighting the War' four years ago and originally each verse was a separate character," Cleaves explains. "Each verse was about getting swindled. One was about the economy, one was about a returning veteran, one was about a broken-up couple. It was too cumbersome, so I focused in on the soldier. The key that made it all work came as I was talking to my friend and occasional co-writer, Ron Coy. A troubled Vietnam vet buddy of his had recently passed away. Ron said, ‘All this time, it was like he was still fighting the war.' I knew instantly that was the perfect way to summarize the song."

Cleaves delivers equal measures of hope and resignation throughout this 2013 release as life lessons slide subtly through side doors. "Normally when I start writing a new batch, a theme starts to emerge after three or four songs," says Cleaves, who built an unlikely success story from scratch after moving to Austin, Texas, from Maine two decades ago. "This time around I thought, I'm just gonna write where the muse takes me and each song will be its own thing. So I ended up with a CD that has a bit more variety on it compared to my previous releases. Half the songs are about struggle and perseverance and half are all over the place, some tongue-in-cheek stuff, a gospel song, a Texas pride song."

Witness deft wordplay on the latter: "Your wit's as sharp as a prickly pear/The sun shines in your golden hair/Your smile hits me right in the solar plexus," Cleaves sings with a wink in "Texas Love Song." "Skin as soft as early morning rain/Temper like a Gulf Coast hurricane/I love you even more than I love Texas." "Originally, the phrase was ‘I love you almost as much as I love Texas,'" Cleaves says, "because that's about as far as a true proud Texan will go. Then I realized that if I committed the sin of saying ‘I love you even more than I love Texas,' it trips off the tongue better. It was a fun little challenge to come up with so many rhymes for ‘Texas.'"


Of course, Cleaves conquered the task. Longtime fans expect nothing less. After all, Still Fighting the War follows the razor sharp songwriter's undeniable hat trick – Broke Down (2000), Wishbones (2004) and Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away (2009) – that established him as a singular storyteller. His golden key: effortlessly shading dark with light. Cue Cleaves' excellent double-disc Sorrow & Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge for inarguable evidence ("Drinkin' Days," "Wishbones," "Horseshoe Lounge").

"You get a lot of the man behind the lyrics," Hendrix says. "What you see with Slaid is what you get: He doesn't have the eyes of a cynic. He has optimism about him through a realistic gaze and writes with a wise voice." The Kerrville Folk Festival recognized those intangible qualities long ago when Cleaves won its hallowed New Folk award in 1992. He's doubled down ever since with literate story songs exponentially more mature and meaningful.

Consider one other new high water mark. "But they figured it out/And shipped the elbow grease/Down to Mexico/And off to the Chinese," Cleaves sings on the haunting meditation "Rust Belt Fields." "And I learned a little something 'bout how things are/No one remembers your name just for working hard." Childhood friend Rod Picott co-wrote those potent lines - the duo has split pages on several indelible blue-collar vignettes over the years ("Broke Down," "Sinner's Prayer," "Bring It On," "Black T-shirt").

"Slaid is my favorite co-writer," says Picott, who also co-wrote the new album's standout "Welding Burns." "He's a smart writer with a gift for wringing the most out of a melody. Slaid understands that the song has to rule. He's patient and unwavering in his pursuit of the best." Cleaves humbly accepts the praise. "Despite the odds, through persistence and good fortune I've carved out a niche for myself," he says. "You could say I have a ‘Whim of Iron.'"

Slaid Cleaves spins stories with a novelist's eye and a poet's heart. Twenty years into his career, the celebrated songwriter's Still Fighting the War spotlights an artist in peak form. Cleaves' seamless new collection delivers vivid snapshots as wildly cinematic as they are carefully chiseled. Dress William Faulkner with faded jeans and a worn six-string for a good idea. "Slaid's a craftsman," says Terri Hendrix, who sings harmony on "Texas Love Song." "He goes about his songs like a woodworker."

Accordingly, Cleaves' earthy narratives stand oak strong. "Men go off to war for a hundred reasons/But they all come home with the same demons," he sings on the album's title track. "Some you can keep at bay for a while/Some will pin you to the floor/You've been home for a couple of years now, buddy/But you're still fighting the war." Few writers frame bruised souls as clearly. Fewer still deliver a punch with such striking immediacy.

"I started ‘Still Fighting the War' four years ago and originally each verse was a separate character," Cleaves explains. "Each verse was about getting swindled. One was about the economy, one was about a returning veteran, one was about a broken-up couple. It was too cumbersome, so I focused in on the soldier. The key that made it all work came as I was talking to my friend and occasional co-writer, Ron Coy. A troubled Vietnam vet buddy of his had recently passed away. Ron said, ‘All this time, it was like he was still fighting the war.' I knew instantly that was the perfect way to summarize the song."

Cleaves delivers equal measures of hope and resignation throughout this 2013 release as life lessons slide subtly through side doors. "Normally when I start writing a new batch, a theme starts to emerge after three or four songs," says Cleaves, who built an unlikely success story from scratch after moving to Austin, Texas, from Maine two decades ago. "This time around I thought, I'm just gonna write where the muse takes me and each song will be its own thing. So I ended up with a CD that has a bit more variety on it compared to my previous releases. Half the songs are about struggle and perseverance and half are all over the place, some tongue-in-cheek stuff, a gospel song, a Texas pride song."

Witness deft wordplay on the latter: "Your wit's as sharp as a prickly pear/The sun shines in your golden hair/Your smile hits me right in the solar plexus," Cleaves sings with a wink in "Texas Love Song." "Skin as soft as early morning rain/Temper like a Gulf Coast hurricane/I love you even more than I love Texas." "Originally, the phrase was ‘I love you almost as much as I love Texas,'" Cleaves says, "because that's about as far as a true proud Texan will go. Then I realized that if I committed the sin of saying ‘I love you even more than I love Texas,' it trips off the tongue better. It was a fun little challenge to come up with so many rhymes for ‘Texas.'"


Of course, Cleaves conquered the task. Longtime fans expect nothing less. After all, Still Fighting the War follows the razor sharp songwriter's undeniable hat trick – Broke Down (2000), Wishbones (2004) and Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away (2009) – that established him as a singular storyteller. His golden key: effortlessly shading dark with light. Cue Cleaves' excellent double-disc Sorrow & Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge for inarguable evidence ("Drinkin' Days," "Wishbones," "Horseshoe Lounge").

"You get a lot of the man behind the lyrics," Hendrix says. "What you see with Slaid is what you get: He doesn't have the eyes of a cynic. He has optimism about him through a realistic gaze and writes with a wise voice." The Kerrville Folk Festival recognized those intangible qualities long ago when Cleaves won its hallowed New Folk award in 1992. He's doubled down ever since with literate story songs exponentially more mature and meaningful.

Consider one other new high water mark. "But they figured it out/And shipped the elbow grease/Down to Mexico/And off to the Chinese," Cleaves sings on the haunting meditation "Rust Belt Fields." "And I learned a little something 'bout how things are/No one remembers your name just for working hard." Childhood friend Rod Picott co-wrote those potent lines - the duo has split pages on several indelible blue-collar vignettes over the years ("Broke Down," "Sinner's Prayer," "Bring It On," "Black T-shirt").

"Slaid is my favorite co-writer," says Picott, who also co-wrote the new album's standout "Welding Burns." "He's a smart writer with a gift for wringing the most out of a melody. Slaid understands that the song has to rule. He's patient and unwavering in his pursuit of the best." Cleaves humbly accepts the praise. "Despite the odds, through persistence and good fortune I've carved out a niche for myself," he says. "You could say I have a ‘Whim of Iron.'"

An evening of Roots and Blues with Grant Dermody & Frank Fotusky with Special Guests Sutton & Barath

Grant Dermody

There's more than one way to describe a musician's expertise. One angle is how an instrument sounds under their command, yet another is what their playing actually does to you. In the case of harmonica master Grant Dermody, these precious elements are inseparable – and also incomparable. Just one note arrives and you are temporarily transformed, awakened by something wholly original.

In this Seattle native's hands, the harp rumbles like a freight train, sidles up like a soul singer, purrs like an electric cat, rings out in a rhythmic dance. Pair it up with his voice, a strikingly honest vocal approach that resonates in the direct center of your chest, and the intrigue just increases.

The swamps of Louisiana, the wide open skies of Montana - all that's deep and sweet and awe-inspiring about Americana and its musical roots - reside there. There's simply nothing like the growling grace that emanates from Grant Dermody.


Frank Fotusky

Frank Fotusky's handling of the country blues is kinda like a burlap sack made with silk instead of jute. It's that old familiar weave, that old familiar shape. But damn, it sure is smooth. Or to vary my metaphor, the genuine article viewed through a very clean pane of glass." Peter James, Promoter

The release of Frank Fotusky's second CD, 'Meet Me In the Bottom, only confirms what many of us have known for years: that Frank is one of the premier acoustic blues stylists in the nation. Frank has studied the masters-from Rev. Gary Davis and Blind Willie McTell to Robert Johnson and Bo Carter-but he's no mere imitator. His inventive arrangements, splendid picking and soulful singing make for the complete blues package. - Ian Zack, Author 'Say No To The Devil-The Life and Musical Genius of Rev. Gary Davis.'


Sutton & Barath

Chris Sutton, from Huntington, WV, is the type of songwriter and performer who can transport the listener to a distant time and place through his music, a trait that is not easily attained. With a voice that belies the hardscrabble life of a late night troubadour, he guides you on a journey that you may not have intended to take, but you'll be glad you did!

In addition to being a gifted and engaging performer, Chris has a catalogue of original material, some of which you can find on his solo CD, 'The Sun Studio Recordings', recorded at the legendary Sun Studios, that stands up next to anything available in the Blues/Roots genre. He has toured the Eastern U.S. as well as Italy, India and Nepal, and made friends and fans everywhere he's gone.

Charlie Barath, harmonica player and vocalist from Western Pennsylvania, has made a name for himself in the region and beyond through his traditional style, outgoing stage presence and his affable demeanor on and off the bandstand. He has been in love with traditional music since he can remember and displays that affection through the playing of his instrument of choice, the humble ten-hole diatonic harmonica. Sought after by bands and performers in the region to join them in various musical projects, Charlie manages to please audiences wherever he goes.

Chris and Charlie perform as an acoustic duo in and around the upper Ohio Valley and have toured regionally and throughout the Midwest and the South. They perform original music as well as classic American Roots and Blues, and are available for booking at Festivals, Concerts, Art Centers, Clubs, and House Concerts.

Grant Dermody

There's more than one way to describe a musician's expertise. One angle is how an instrument sounds under their command, yet another is what their playing actually does to you. In the case of harmonica master Grant Dermody, these precious elements are inseparable – and also incomparable. Just one note arrives and you are temporarily transformed, awakened by something wholly original.

In this Seattle native's hands, the harp rumbles like a freight train, sidles up like a soul singer, purrs like an electric cat, rings out in a rhythmic dance. Pair it up with his voice, a strikingly honest vocal approach that resonates in the direct center of your chest, and the intrigue just increases.

The swamps of Louisiana, the wide open skies of Montana - all that's deep and sweet and awe-inspiring about Americana and its musical roots - reside there. There's simply nothing like the growling grace that emanates from Grant Dermody.


Frank Fotusky

Frank Fotusky's handling of the country blues is kinda like a burlap sack made with silk instead of jute. It's that old familiar weave, that old familiar shape. But damn, it sure is smooth. Or to vary my metaphor, the genuine article viewed through a very clean pane of glass." Peter James, Promoter

The release of Frank Fotusky's second CD, 'Meet Me In the Bottom, only confirms what many of us have known for years: that Frank is one of the premier acoustic blues stylists in the nation. Frank has studied the masters-from Rev. Gary Davis and Blind Willie McTell to Robert Johnson and Bo Carter-but he's no mere imitator. His inventive arrangements, splendid picking and soulful singing make for the complete blues package. - Ian Zack, Author 'Say No To The Devil-The Life and Musical Genius of Rev. Gary Davis.'


Sutton & Barath

Chris Sutton, from Huntington, WV, is the type of songwriter and performer who can transport the listener to a distant time and place through his music, a trait that is not easily attained. With a voice that belies the hardscrabble life of a late night troubadour, he guides you on a journey that you may not have intended to take, but you'll be glad you did!

In addition to being a gifted and engaging performer, Chris has a catalogue of original material, some of which you can find on his solo CD, 'The Sun Studio Recordings', recorded at the legendary Sun Studios, that stands up next to anything available in the Blues/Roots genre. He has toured the Eastern U.S. as well as Italy, India and Nepal, and made friends and fans everywhere he's gone.

Charlie Barath, harmonica player and vocalist from Western Pennsylvania, has made a name for himself in the region and beyond through his traditional style, outgoing stage presence and his affable demeanor on and off the bandstand. He has been in love with traditional music since he can remember and displays that affection through the playing of his instrument of choice, the humble ten-hole diatonic harmonica. Sought after by bands and performers in the region to join them in various musical projects, Charlie manages to please audiences wherever he goes.

Chris and Charlie perform as an acoustic duo in and around the upper Ohio Valley and have toured regionally and throughout the Midwest and the South. They perform original music as well as classic American Roots and Blues, and are available for booking at Festivals, Concerts, Art Centers, Clubs, and House Concerts.

David Archuleta

Platinum-selling pop star David Archuleta doesn't like attention, but he deserves yours.

At 6 years old, Archuleta, who grew up on a steady diet of musicals like Les Misérables and Evita, developed a love for singing as a way to find solace in the comfort of his backyard. Before long, family, friends and neighbors started to notice, and at 9 years old, coaxed by the promise of free quesadillas, he was singing for crowds at a local restaurant. And in 2007, when the
then-16-year-old (now 26), appeared on American Idol, the world started noticing. Receiving 44 percent of nearly 100 million votes, the shy, fresh-faced vocal prodigy was runner-up on the hit show's seventh season, finishing behind David Cook.

"I didn't really want to pursue fame and stardom," Archuleta, a devout Mormon, recalls. "But I felt like it was something I needed to do to fulfill one of the assignments I'd been given in my life."

A record deal with Sony/Jive Records, arena tours, a No. 2 single ("Crush") on the Billboard Hot
100, acclaim from the likes Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson and Rihanna, and international
fame followed. But even after running the gamut from Top 40 pop to holiday music on six
studio albums and 21 singles, released over the past decade, including a two-year break from
music to embark on life-changing missionary work in Chile for The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints, the TV personality, bestselling author and former Star Search Junior Vocal
Champion and one of American Idol's youngest breakout wunderkinds was still just finding his
voice.

"I think American Idol, the whole process, from the momentum on afterwards, I never took time to slow down and think about who I was," the singer says. "People wanted me to work in an adult world without growing up. ... When I went on my mission, it was the first time that I
took time to say, ‘Who am I? What do I want?'

"When I got back, I started doing music again, and that's when I started working on this project."

He's talking about a series of three four-song EPs that, due out over the course of this year (and later as a full-length LP with additional songs), starting with the May 19th release of Orion, combine to make a heartfelt artistic statement. Unburdened by the pressures and
focus-group-think of industry handlers, yet set to pop tones sure to pleasantly surprise old fans and attract new followers to his already robust global fan base, it's the first album the singer's co-written and recorded as an adult.

"The music is all about saying, ‘Wait a second, why am I doing this in the first place?' "
Archuleta says, explaining where his head was at when he relocated to Nashville to start writing
songs with Music City luminaries like Jeremy Bose, Trent Dabbs, Katie Herzig, producer Jamie
Kenney and others.

"It was therapeutic working with them," Archuleta recalls. "I wrote these stories [my career so far]. ... That was a great experience and I learned a ton, and now I'm here and I'm like, ‘Wow! I get to create music, but this time I have my own reason to do it."

"I connect to my songs more now than I ever have," he goes on to say. "Before, my team had goals to fulfill; they didn't really care about my story, they were just like, ‘Make sure you have enough love songs that we can release, because that's what people want to buy.' I've never been about romance and breakups and high school love and all that. I've always been about life, and self-introspection."

"I think I'll take a second change," Archuleta sings with a familiar bell-clear powerhouse croon on lead-off single "Numb," an airy pop tune with a refreshing calypso feel that shows some of the Utah-by-way-of-Miami native's Latin roots. The track premiered via Billboard last November.


"This is like a new beginning," Archuleta explains excitedly, saying he's never felt so intrinsically fulfilled and electrified by his own music. "It's not just taking another chance with music, it's taking another chance on myself. ... I need to be who I am or else I'll go numb again."

Like with "Numb," the theme of the anthemic "Invincible" turns the phrase its title suggests.

"[It's] about not having to be invincible," Archuleta says. "I've felt too many times that I need to be perfect, I need to be invincible, I can't show any weakness. But really, that's what creates
the battle with myself. ... [Then I have to tell myself], ‘It's OK, you can let go. Let the armor down. Put the sword away.' "

That idea carries on through Orion's "Up All Night." It's a dance-pop gem Archuleta wrote about a rural Tennessee fishing trip he took with a family he befriended. Coming during a rough patch he was having in Nashville, the trip gave the singer some much-needed perspective at a time when he was imposing a paralyzing amount of pressure on himself to prove himself.


"They just cared about each other," Archuleta says of the family. "Whoever I was, they just loved me and accepted me, and made me feel like a was a part of the family. ... I felt whole again, I feel rejuvenated, and I went home and I couldn't sleep that night. And all that
happened was I went fishing with this family. I was like, ‘I have to get this feeling out of me.' So
I went over to the keyboard and ["Up All Night"] is what came out."

"Say Me," a string-section-boasting ballad co-written with Bose and Dabbs, is another rumination on the singer's battle for self-discovery. "I need you to say me," the lyric goes.


"That can be interpreted as a love song," Archuleta admits. "I need you to say you, basically — believe in yourself. ... There's a difference between being prideful and cocky and believing in yourself."

After a decade under the discerning eyes of American Idol judges, TV viewers, record label
know-it-alls and music critics trying to shape and define his identity, Archuleta has discovered he's the only one who can find himself, and, with confidence winning out over self-doubt, that's what he's done on Orion.


"These songs are about the struggle of finding your own voice and how hard it can be sometimes to believe in yourself. ... I'm David. I'm the kid who always sat in his backyard, alone, singing to the cats. I don't have to be cool, I just have to be David."

Platinum-selling pop star David Archuleta doesn't like attention, but he deserves yours.

At 6 years old, Archuleta, who grew up on a steady diet of musicals like Les Misérables and Evita, developed a love for singing as a way to find solace in the comfort of his backyard. Before long, family, friends and neighbors started to notice, and at 9 years old, coaxed by the promise of free quesadillas, he was singing for crowds at a local restaurant. And in 2007, when the
then-16-year-old (now 26), appeared on American Idol, the world started noticing. Receiving 44 percent of nearly 100 million votes, the shy, fresh-faced vocal prodigy was runner-up on the hit show's seventh season, finishing behind David Cook.

"I didn't really want to pursue fame and stardom," Archuleta, a devout Mormon, recalls. "But I felt like it was something I needed to do to fulfill one of the assignments I'd been given in my life."

A record deal with Sony/Jive Records, arena tours, a No. 2 single ("Crush") on the Billboard Hot
100, acclaim from the likes Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson and Rihanna, and international
fame followed. But even after running the gamut from Top 40 pop to holiday music on six
studio albums and 21 singles, released over the past decade, including a two-year break from
music to embark on life-changing missionary work in Chile for The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints, the TV personality, bestselling author and former Star Search Junior Vocal
Champion and one of American Idol's youngest breakout wunderkinds was still just finding his
voice.

"I think American Idol, the whole process, from the momentum on afterwards, I never took time to slow down and think about who I was," the singer says. "People wanted me to work in an adult world without growing up. ... When I went on my mission, it was the first time that I
took time to say, ‘Who am I? What do I want?'

"When I got back, I started doing music again, and that's when I started working on this project."

He's talking about a series of three four-song EPs that, due out over the course of this year (and later as a full-length LP with additional songs), starting with the May 19th release of Orion, combine to make a heartfelt artistic statement. Unburdened by the pressures and
focus-group-think of industry handlers, yet set to pop tones sure to pleasantly surprise old fans and attract new followers to his already robust global fan base, it's the first album the singer's co-written and recorded as an adult.

"The music is all about saying, ‘Wait a second, why am I doing this in the first place?' "
Archuleta says, explaining where his head was at when he relocated to Nashville to start writing
songs with Music City luminaries like Jeremy Bose, Trent Dabbs, Katie Herzig, producer Jamie
Kenney and others.

"It was therapeutic working with them," Archuleta recalls. "I wrote these stories [my career so far]. ... That was a great experience and I learned a ton, and now I'm here and I'm like, ‘Wow! I get to create music, but this time I have my own reason to do it."

"I connect to my songs more now than I ever have," he goes on to say. "Before, my team had goals to fulfill; they didn't really care about my story, they were just like, ‘Make sure you have enough love songs that we can release, because that's what people want to buy.' I've never been about romance and breakups and high school love and all that. I've always been about life, and self-introspection."

"I think I'll take a second change," Archuleta sings with a familiar bell-clear powerhouse croon on lead-off single "Numb," an airy pop tune with a refreshing calypso feel that shows some of the Utah-by-way-of-Miami native's Latin roots. The track premiered via Billboard last November.


"This is like a new beginning," Archuleta explains excitedly, saying he's never felt so intrinsically fulfilled and electrified by his own music. "It's not just taking another chance with music, it's taking another chance on myself. ... I need to be who I am or else I'll go numb again."

Like with "Numb," the theme of the anthemic "Invincible" turns the phrase its title suggests.

"[It's] about not having to be invincible," Archuleta says. "I've felt too many times that I need to be perfect, I need to be invincible, I can't show any weakness. But really, that's what creates
the battle with myself. ... [Then I have to tell myself], ‘It's OK, you can let go. Let the armor down. Put the sword away.' "

That idea carries on through Orion's "Up All Night." It's a dance-pop gem Archuleta wrote about a rural Tennessee fishing trip he took with a family he befriended. Coming during a rough patch he was having in Nashville, the trip gave the singer some much-needed perspective at a time when he was imposing a paralyzing amount of pressure on himself to prove himself.


"They just cared about each other," Archuleta says of the family. "Whoever I was, they just loved me and accepted me, and made me feel like a was a part of the family. ... I felt whole again, I feel rejuvenated, and I went home and I couldn't sleep that night. And all that
happened was I went fishing with this family. I was like, ‘I have to get this feeling out of me.' So
I went over to the keyboard and ["Up All Night"] is what came out."

"Say Me," a string-section-boasting ballad co-written with Bose and Dabbs, is another rumination on the singer's battle for self-discovery. "I need you to say me," the lyric goes.


"That can be interpreted as a love song," Archuleta admits. "I need you to say you, basically — believe in yourself. ... There's a difference between being prideful and cocky and believing in yourself."

After a decade under the discerning eyes of American Idol judges, TV viewers, record label
know-it-alls and music critics trying to shape and define his identity, Archuleta has discovered he's the only one who can find himself, and, with confidence winning out over self-doubt, that's what he's done on Orion.


"These songs are about the struggle of finding your own voice and how hard it can be sometimes to believe in yourself. ... I'm David. I'm the kid who always sat in his backyard, alone, singing to the cats. I don't have to be cool, I just have to be David."

(Early Show) Daphne Willis with Special Guest Chris Hannigan

Collaborating across multiple genres ranging from Roots-Rock and Pop to Hip Hop and Electronic Dance Music, classifying Daphne Willis in musical terms is no easy task. With infectious melodies delivered with lyrical precision and honesty, the songs and performances of Daphne Willis are sincere, compelling and relevant.

Raised in Chicago, Daphne now calls Nashville, TN home and cites influences as varied as Elvis Costello and Michael Jackson, but her musical output cleverly incorporates such inspirations into a style that is refreshing and contemporary in a way that suits her songs best.

With over 1,000 shows under her belt over the past several years, Daphne has been spreading her music to passionate fans across the United States. Her infectious personality combined with her incredible talent caught the eyes and ears of Sony/ATV Music Publishing in early 2016 who quickly signed Daphne to a worldwide publishing agreement. This partnership has resulted in several of her songs being recorded by other artists and used in Commercial, Film and TV productions such as One Tree Hill, Empire and a Microsoft Ad Campaign.

Collaborating across multiple genres ranging from Roots-Rock and Pop to Hip Hop and Electronic Dance Music, classifying Daphne Willis in musical terms is no easy task. With infectious melodies delivered with lyrical precision and honesty, the songs and performances of Daphne Willis are sincere, compelling and relevant.

Raised in Chicago, Daphne now calls Nashville, TN home and cites influences as varied as Elvis Costello and Michael Jackson, but her musical output cleverly incorporates such inspirations into a style that is refreshing and contemporary in a way that suits her songs best.

With over 1,000 shows under her belt over the past several years, Daphne has been spreading her music to passionate fans across the United States. Her infectious personality combined with her incredible talent caught the eyes and ears of Sony/ATV Music Publishing in early 2016 who quickly signed Daphne to a worldwide publishing agreement. This partnership has resulted in several of her songs being recorded by other artists and used in Commercial, Film and TV productions such as One Tree Hill, Empire and a Microsoft Ad Campaign.

(Late Show) Gregg Johnson (of Courier) / Scott and Rosanna

Matthew Mayfield

Matthew Mayfield is an unpredictable artist who has spent the past decade releasing material ranging from haunting acoustic ballads to gritty, southern rock and roll. His latest LP, RECOIL, is a sonic and lyrical departure from his previous release, Wild Eyes. Wild Eyes was a collection of songs created over time that reflected different periods in Matthew’s life. RECOIL, by contrast, was born quickly and violently, the fruit of an intense effort by Mayfield to depict the good, the bad, and the ugly in the present world he inhabits. If Wild Eyes was delicately chiseled into being, RECOIL was hewed into existence with hammers and claws. According to Mayfield, “making RECOIL was extremely hard—I had to drag the songs out of me and stick with them until they said exactly what I needed them to say.”

The result of this hard work is Mayfield’s most deeply personal album to date, one defined by brutal honesty and beautiful sound. Songs like "Raw Diamond Ring" and "Merry-Go-Round" speak of true love and hope, while "Indigo" is for anyone who has ever lost a loved one and expects to see them again in the next life. "History" and "God's Fault" ring the bells of betrayal, while "Turncoat" delivers a vicious dose of rage that will blow listeners back like the kick from a fired gun. Mayfield has always said that, “rock and roll isn’t a sound, it’s an attitude”. And that’s exactly what RECOIL provides: pure, unfiltered honesty, no matter the cost.

RECOIL was produced by Paul Moak, who Mayfield counts as, “one of the most gifted producers, players, songwriters, and overall artists I’ve ever met.” This is the third full-length album the two have recorded together, and Moak’s talents played a major role in making RECOIL special. While Moak’s fingerprints are all over the record, two of Mayfield’s favorite contributions are the introduction on “Long Way Down” and the piano and organ tracks on “Warfare On Repeat”. Mayfield and Moak also happen to be great friends, which Mayfield says, “helped us push each other along through the process.”

With each new record, Mayfield has grown in his ability to evoke a broad range of emotions in his listeners. “I want to create melodies and lyrics that move people, that make them feel something. Connection is everything, and music has a unique way of helping people connect to others and to parts of themselves that they might otherwise be unable to access.”

RECOIL is now available on all digital platforms worldwide and physical copies available on matthewmayfield.com

Matthew Mayfield is an unpredictable artist who has spent the past decade releasing material ranging from haunting acoustic ballads to gritty, southern rock and roll. His latest LP, RECOIL, is a sonic and lyrical departure from his previous release, Wild Eyes. Wild Eyes was a collection of songs created over time that reflected different periods in Matthew’s life. RECOIL, by contrast, was born quickly and violently, the fruit of an intense effort by Mayfield to depict the good, the bad, and the ugly in the present world he inhabits. If Wild Eyes was delicately chiseled into being, RECOIL was hewed into existence with hammers and claws. According to Mayfield, “making RECOIL was extremely hard—I had to drag the songs out of me and stick with them until they said exactly what I needed them to say.”

The result of this hard work is Mayfield’s most deeply personal album to date, one defined by brutal honesty and beautiful sound. Songs like "Raw Diamond Ring" and "Merry-Go-Round" speak of true love and hope, while "Indigo" is for anyone who has ever lost a loved one and expects to see them again in the next life. "History" and "God's Fault" ring the bells of betrayal, while "Turncoat" delivers a vicious dose of rage that will blow listeners back like the kick from a fired gun. Mayfield has always said that, “rock and roll isn’t a sound, it’s an attitude”. And that’s exactly what RECOIL provides: pure, unfiltered honesty, no matter the cost.

RECOIL was produced by Paul Moak, who Mayfield counts as, “one of the most gifted producers, players, songwriters, and overall artists I’ve ever met.” This is the third full-length album the two have recorded together, and Moak’s talents played a major role in making RECOIL special. While Moak’s fingerprints are all over the record, two of Mayfield’s favorite contributions are the introduction on “Long Way Down” and the piano and organ tracks on “Warfare On Repeat”. Mayfield and Moak also happen to be great friends, which Mayfield says, “helped us push each other along through the process.”

With each new record, Mayfield has grown in his ability to evoke a broad range of emotions in his listeners. “I want to create melodies and lyrics that move people, that make them feel something. Connection is everything, and music has a unique way of helping people connect to others and to parts of themselves that they might otherwise be unable to access.”

RECOIL is now available on all digital platforms worldwide and physical copies available on matthewmayfield.com

@clubcafelive

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