club cafe

pittsburgh, pa
The Calm Before The Storm - A Night of Irish Traditional Music and Song with Mark Dignam & Friends

Born in Ireland, Mark Dignam grew up in the adventurous North Side Dublin suburb of Finglas, His father was a truck driver, his Mother was a typical Irish housewife of the time, except she sang around the house – a lot.

A noticeable vocal talent led him to dream big and to leave the neighborhood as soon as he possibly could, finding a very cheap (read - no heat!) apartment in an old Georgian tenement in the city center, at the age of 18.

First, busking on city streets for pocket change and exposure, along with his friends, Glen Hansard (The Frames, The Swell Season, Oscar winner for best song for the indie movie - Once), Mic Christopher (The Mary Janes), KIla (Irish Traditional supergroup) among others; they quickly became the darlings of Grafton Street, a well-known center, of Dublin busking,; counting among their audience such luminaries as The Waterboys, Van Morrison, and Sinead O'Connor.

Mark struck out on his own in the nineties, releasing the acclaimed Poetry and Songs From the Wheel in 1995. The album, named a top ten best debut of 1995 by Ireland's Hot Press Magazine, cementing Mark's reputation as a powerful voice on the singer/songwriter circuit.

He's continued to release records, from 1997's In a Time of Overstatement, a stark collection of spiritual and political musings, to 2005's Box Heart Man, chosen as one of WYEP Pittsburgh's top picks for 2005. Mark has been invited to open for, or tour with: The Swell Season, David Gray, Billy Bragg, Joan Armatrading, Richard Thompson, Mike Nichols (of The Alarm) among others...

Born in Ireland, Mark Dignam grew up in the adventurous North Side Dublin suburb of Finglas, His father was a truck driver, his Mother was a typical Irish housewife of the time, except she sang around the house – a lot.

A noticeable vocal talent led him to dream big and to leave the neighborhood as soon as he possibly could, finding a very cheap (read - no heat!) apartment in an old Georgian tenement in the city center, at the age of 18.

First, busking on city streets for pocket change and exposure, along with his friends, Glen Hansard (The Frames, The Swell Season, Oscar winner for best song for the indie movie - Once), Mic Christopher (The Mary Janes), KIla (Irish Traditional supergroup) among others; they quickly became the darlings of Grafton Street, a well-known center, of Dublin busking,; counting among their audience such luminaries as The Waterboys, Van Morrison, and Sinead O'Connor.

Mark struck out on his own in the nineties, releasing the acclaimed Poetry and Songs From the Wheel in 1995. The album, named a top ten best debut of 1995 by Ireland's Hot Press Magazine, cementing Mark's reputation as a powerful voice on the singer/songwriter circuit.

He's continued to release records, from 1997's In a Time of Overstatement, a stark collection of spiritual and political musings, to 2005's Box Heart Man, chosen as one of WYEP Pittsburgh's top picks for 2005. Mark has been invited to open for, or tour with: The Swell Season, David Gray, Billy Bragg, Joan Armatrading, Richard Thompson, Mike Nichols (of The Alarm) among others...

(Early Show) Lucy Wainwright Roche

Those familiar with Lucy Wainwright Roche are aware of her bell tone voice, her unshakable melodies, and her knack for wise, wry lyrics that clench the heart. It’s no surprise that Wainwright Roche is the daughter of Suzzy Roche (The Roches) and Loudon Wainwright III, half sibling to Rufus and Martha Wainwright. She grew up steeped in music.

But Lucy has carved out her own career as a touring singer/songwriter and recording artist, having sold over 50 thousand copies of her four critically acclaimed solo recordings released on her own label: Eight Songs, Eight More, Lucy, and There’s a Last Time for Everything. Other recordings include a collaboration with her sister Martha Wainwright on Songs In the Dark, a collection of lullabies, and two duet recordings with her mother Suzzy Roche: Fairytale and Myth (winner of Vox Pop Independent Music Awards) and most recently Mud and Apples.

For over a decade, as a solo act, armed with a guitar, a deadpan sense of humor, killer songs, and a voice that makes tough guys cry, she’s built a solid following across the US and Europe. As an opening act she has often appeared with such luminaries as the Indigo Girls, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Neko Case, and she’s one of a few who can step out alone in front of a thousand strangers and play an entire set to a rapt audience.

Now, on her new 2018 release Little Beast (2019 Independent Music Award winner, “Best Album” Singer-Songwriter/Folk category), Lucy ups the ante with a dynamic, emotional recording masterfully and artfully co-produced with Jordan Brooke Hamlin. This collection of songs is an urgent and poetic call to a world gone awry. The journey from song to song is downright cinematic. One minute she eases us in with her flat-footed authenticity, and the next she lets loose with her wild side, and we imagine her howling at the moon. In Heroin, the first single from Little Beast, Lucy Wainwright Roche is hugging hairpin turns on the outside lane and you know it’s true. Sometimes chasing love is dangerous business:

It’s the Million Dollar Highway on a snowy day

It’s why I had to go, it’s why I longed to stay

There are many standouts on Little Beast: Heroin, Quit with Me, In Relation to Disaster, Trouble, Behind the Wheel, and Ohio is for Lovers are a few, but perhaps Soft Line, a wrenching plea to a lost love as it slips away, is the most haunting track. Simply put, the song is a dagger to the heart:

Watch out or the sun will set
On the picture we tried to get
On the story of why we met…

There’s nothing “little “about Lucy Wainwright Roche’s Little Beast. It’s fierce, unflinching, and will undoubtedly place her squarely at the top of her game.

Those familiar with Lucy Wainwright Roche are aware of her bell tone voice, her unshakable melodies, and her knack for wise, wry lyrics that clench the heart. It’s no surprise that Wainwright Roche is the daughter of Suzzy Roche (The Roches) and Loudon Wainwright III, half sibling to Rufus and Martha Wainwright. She grew up steeped in music.

But Lucy has carved out her own career as a touring singer/songwriter and recording artist, having sold over 50 thousand copies of her four critically acclaimed solo recordings released on her own label: Eight Songs, Eight More, Lucy, and There’s a Last Time for Everything. Other recordings include a collaboration with her sister Martha Wainwright on Songs In the Dark, a collection of lullabies, and two duet recordings with her mother Suzzy Roche: Fairytale and Myth (winner of Vox Pop Independent Music Awards) and most recently Mud and Apples.

For over a decade, as a solo act, armed with a guitar, a deadpan sense of humor, killer songs, and a voice that makes tough guys cry, she’s built a solid following across the US and Europe. As an opening act she has often appeared with such luminaries as the Indigo Girls, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Neko Case, and she’s one of a few who can step out alone in front of a thousand strangers and play an entire set to a rapt audience.

Now, on her new 2018 release Little Beast (2019 Independent Music Award winner, “Best Album” Singer-Songwriter/Folk category), Lucy ups the ante with a dynamic, emotional recording masterfully and artfully co-produced with Jordan Brooke Hamlin. This collection of songs is an urgent and poetic call to a world gone awry. The journey from song to song is downright cinematic. One minute she eases us in with her flat-footed authenticity, and the next she lets loose with her wild side, and we imagine her howling at the moon. In Heroin, the first single from Little Beast, Lucy Wainwright Roche is hugging hairpin turns on the outside lane and you know it’s true. Sometimes chasing love is dangerous business:

It’s the Million Dollar Highway on a snowy day

It’s why I had to go, it’s why I longed to stay

There are many standouts on Little Beast: Heroin, Quit with Me, In Relation to Disaster, Trouble, Behind the Wheel, and Ohio is for Lovers are a few, but perhaps Soft Line, a wrenching plea to a lost love as it slips away, is the most haunting track. Simply put, the song is a dagger to the heart:

Watch out or the sun will set
On the picture we tried to get
On the story of why we met…

There’s nothing “little “about Lucy Wainwright Roche’s Little Beast. It’s fierce, unflinching, and will undoubtedly place her squarely at the top of her game.

A Night of Fine Acoustic Country Music with Brent Cobb

With a GRAMMY nomination under his belt and two major label albums to his credit, Brent Cobb is embarking this spring on a stripped back acoustic tour in seated venues with the assist of an accompanist. He decided that it was important for his fan base to hear the songs showcased the way they were written, giving his award winning lyrics their due. The tour will kick off in Austin, Texas this February and run through the month of March.

Cobb’s songwriting career does not begin and end with his solo accomplishments. Brent has also secured cuts with Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, and Lee Ann Womack, and toured with artists like Chris Stapleton and Margo Price. He received a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album for 2016’s Shine On Rainy Day, and issued his most personal album yet, 2018’s Providence Canyon.

As 2019 was winding down, he dropped the single “Feet Off the Ground” with Jade Bird, released a three-part video series called Come Home Soon, and completed his headlining Sucker for a Good Time Tour.

He credits his touring history for inspiring the quicker pace of the material on Providence Canyon. “I’ve always liked the funkier side of country and the funkier side of rock,” he explains. “Those influences have been a part of me for years, but they’re really coming to the forefront now. When you’re touring with Chris Stapleton, and you’re performing to a crowd of 10,000 people before he hits the stage, you find yourself wanting to play something upbeat.”

If Shine On Rainy Day felt like a laidback country album for front-porch picking sessions, then Providence Canyon is built for something bigger. This is music for juke joints, pool halls, and roadhouses, filled with electric guitar (performed by Cobb’s touring bandmate, Mike Harris), B3 organ, percussive groove, and co-ed harmonies. Each song was captured in a small number of takes, with Brent and Dave Cobb relying on instinct and spur-of-the-moment ideas.

“It’s in the blood,” Brent says of his connection to his cousin, who has overseen award-winning records for Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton, as well as Shine On Rainy Day and Providence Canyon. “We didn’t grow up together, but we’re so similar in our approaches. It’s important to me to do this with him, because these songs are about the places I’m from, the places I’ve visited, and the people who’ve taken me there. My family is all over these songs.”

Cobb doubles down on his commitment to his wife and daughter with “Ain’t a Road Too Long,” whose mix of Bible Belt boogie-woogie and Southern rock channels influences like the Band. On the drawling, guitar-driven “Mornin’s Gonna Come” and “Sucker for a Good Time,” he battles against the temptations of the road, where the drinks are free and the nights are long. Then, on the album’s breezy title track, he casts his mind back to his teenage years and trips to Providence Canyon, a 150-feet gorge in the sandy clay of southwest Georgia, less than an hour’s drive from Cobb’s hometown.

“Growing up, I didn’t know the definition of ‘providence,’” he admits. “I looked it up in my early 20s, and the definition is something like ‘the protective power of God—or nature—as a spiritual power.’ When I read that, it inspired the whole song. I was 23 at the time, and I missed the old days and the freedom of youth. Years later, I still try to keep my music honest and somehow sacred.”

With a GRAMMY nomination under his belt and two major label albums to his credit, Brent Cobb is embarking this spring on a stripped back acoustic tour in seated venues with the assist of an accompanist. He decided that it was important for his fan base to hear the songs showcased the way they were written, giving his award winning lyrics their due. The tour will kick off in Austin, Texas this February and run through the month of March.

Cobb’s songwriting career does not begin and end with his solo accomplishments. Brent has also secured cuts with Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, and Lee Ann Womack, and toured with artists like Chris Stapleton and Margo Price. He received a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album for 2016’s Shine On Rainy Day, and issued his most personal album yet, 2018’s Providence Canyon.

As 2019 was winding down, he dropped the single “Feet Off the Ground” with Jade Bird, released a three-part video series called Come Home Soon, and completed his headlining Sucker for a Good Time Tour.

He credits his touring history for inspiring the quicker pace of the material on Providence Canyon. “I’ve always liked the funkier side of country and the funkier side of rock,” he explains. “Those influences have been a part of me for years, but they’re really coming to the forefront now. When you’re touring with Chris Stapleton, and you’re performing to a crowd of 10,000 people before he hits the stage, you find yourself wanting to play something upbeat.”

If Shine On Rainy Day felt like a laidback country album for front-porch picking sessions, then Providence Canyon is built for something bigger. This is music for juke joints, pool halls, and roadhouses, filled with electric guitar (performed by Cobb’s touring bandmate, Mike Harris), B3 organ, percussive groove, and co-ed harmonies. Each song was captured in a small number of takes, with Brent and Dave Cobb relying on instinct and spur-of-the-moment ideas.

“It’s in the blood,” Brent says of his connection to his cousin, who has overseen award-winning records for Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton, as well as Shine On Rainy Day and Providence Canyon. “We didn’t grow up together, but we’re so similar in our approaches. It’s important to me to do this with him, because these songs are about the places I’m from, the places I’ve visited, and the people who’ve taken me there. My family is all over these songs.”

Cobb doubles down on his commitment to his wife and daughter with “Ain’t a Road Too Long,” whose mix of Bible Belt boogie-woogie and Southern rock channels influences like the Band. On the drawling, guitar-driven “Mornin’s Gonna Come” and “Sucker for a Good Time,” he battles against the temptations of the road, where the drinks are free and the nights are long. Then, on the album’s breezy title track, he casts his mind back to his teenage years and trips to Providence Canyon, a 150-feet gorge in the sandy clay of southwest Georgia, less than an hour’s drive from Cobb’s hometown.

“Growing up, I didn’t know the definition of ‘providence,’” he admits. “I looked it up in my early 20s, and the definition is something like ‘the protective power of God—or nature—as a spiritual power.’ When I read that, it inspired the whole song. I was 23 at the time, and I missed the old days and the freedom of youth. Years later, I still try to keep my music honest and somehow sacred.”

Daniel Donato

Cosmic Machine

Instrumentalists bear the burden of communicating musical ideas without the aid of lyrics or storytelling proper. For many years, that’s how 2018 Americana Award nominee Daniel Donato operated as the guitarist for Nashville acts like The Wild Feathers, Paul Cauthen and The Don Kelley Band.

From age 14, Donato has developed his brand of crisp, soulful, on-the-edge telecaster picking under bar lights, honing his skills and proving his mettle within the city’s prominent live music scene. All the while, a growing love of songwriting mirrored the pace of his ever-improving guitar chops.

Now, a short three years after his departure from Kelley’s classic country outfit, the 23-year-old is signed to William Morris Endeavors as an artist with a docket of jam-ready country and bluegrass songs. Backed by his three-piece “Cosmic Country Band” – cosmic country is a catch-all term for experimental roots music, often assisted by electronic sounds – Donato stands at the frontier of his career with characteristic intrepidity, no longer bounded by the expressive limitations of his instrument.

His strident voice and explorative songwriting carry his music into new territory, offering bold ideas to his fan base while staying true to what drew them to him in the first place: a palpable love of music delivered through excelled craft. With one eye on the night’s gig and another on the ages, Donato is continuing his journey down country music’s long and winding road, leaving no stone unturned.

Cosmic Machine

Instrumentalists bear the burden of communicating musical ideas without the aid of lyrics or storytelling proper. For many years, that’s how 2018 Americana Award nominee Daniel Donato operated as the guitarist for Nashville acts like The Wild Feathers, Paul Cauthen and The Don Kelley Band.

From age 14, Donato has developed his brand of crisp, soulful, on-the-edge telecaster picking under bar lights, honing his skills and proving his mettle within the city’s prominent live music scene. All the while, a growing love of songwriting mirrored the pace of his ever-improving guitar chops.

Now, a short three years after his departure from Kelley’s classic country outfit, the 23-year-old is signed to William Morris Endeavors as an artist with a docket of jam-ready country and bluegrass songs. Backed by his three-piece “Cosmic Country Band” – cosmic country is a catch-all term for experimental roots music, often assisted by electronic sounds – Donato stands at the frontier of his career with characteristic intrepidity, no longer bounded by the expressive limitations of his instrument.

His strident voice and explorative songwriting carry his music into new territory, offering bold ideas to his fan base while staying true to what drew them to him in the first place: a palpable love of music delivered through excelled craft. With one eye on the night’s gig and another on the ages, Donato is continuing his journey down country music’s long and winding road, leaving no stone unturned.

Rhett Miller Acoustic

"This has been a hell of a year," Rhett Miller says. "I turned 48 in September and I'm still surprising myself."
 
After more than two decades as founding member of the venerable Old 97's and acclaimed singer-songwriter in his own right, Rhett Miller has crafted a trio of new projects that see him pushing his creative energies in hitherto untraveled directions. Among them are two utterly unique new albums - one solo, the other as part of Old 97's - as well as his first ever book, a collection of subversive kids' poems.
 
THE MESSENGER, Miller's eighth solo album, is perhaps his most unflinchingly personal collection of songs to date. Recorded over five spring days at The Isokon in Woodstock, NY with producer/musician Sam Cohen (Kevin Morby, Benjamin Booker), THE MESSENGER sees Miller playing it faster and looser than perhaps any other time in his quarter century career, instilling songs like the first single, "Total Disaster," with a groovy limberness that belies the reflective darkness within. Backed by a white hot backing combo comprised of Cohen (Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Pedal Steel Guitar, Keys), Brian Betancourt (Bass), and Ray Rizzo (Drums), Miller worked quickly and with purpose, fast-tracking four or five "keepers" each day.
 
"I wanted this record to be less safe," he says. "I wanted to put myself in the hands of a producer who was going to do things that I didn't expect; I wanted to perform with people I didn't know and be surprised by what they came up with. And all of that really came to pass. 

"That's what you're getting with this record. You're getting a locked-in rhythm section with a crazy, psychedelic guitar maestro playing along with me as I dig deep into these songs about depression and insecurity and modern life and somehow wanting to live despite all of it," Miller chuckles. 
 
While that might sound somewhat flip, Miller is in some ways more serious than ever before. THE MESSENGER sees the veteran songsmith diving deep into his own youthful encounters with suicide and depression, placing "a long distance phone call to myself as a 14-year-old" on surprisingly buoyant new songs like "Permanent Damage" and "I Used To Write In Notebooks."
 
"For a lot of years I tried to keep self-reference out of my work," he says, "and I believe there's a lot to be said for that. There's enough about what I do that's masturbatory without me reading from my diary. But at a certain point, when you want to dig into personal issues and maybe explore things from your own past, you have to let yourself go there."

Miller hadn't publicly addressed his adolescent suicide attempt until a 2008 interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. "She asked me about my suicide attempt and I found myself telling her the story. I was surprised at how people responded. I ended up doing a little work on behalf of the National Suicide Prevention Network and that kind of blossomed to where I've made a point of recognizing my own history and doing whatever I can to try and bring it out of the shadows and make it something people are okay talking about. But even then, I'd never really recognized it in my own work."

And while THE MESSENGER addresses this darkness head-on many times, the album also visits the brighter corners. Songs like "You Were A Stranger" and "Wheels" speak to the joy that comes with having survived. Towards the end of "Wheels," when Miller sings "I'm broken, we're all broken, we just keep on trying," it's clearly a rallying cry rather than a lament.

After delving inward to create THE MESSENGER, Miller rejoined his mates in the Old 97's - Murry Hammond (Bass, Vocals), Ken Bethea (Electric Guitar), and Philip Peeples (Drums & Percussion) - to make a red-and-green gift for the world. Produced, mixed & engineered by John Pedigo in the band's home state of Texas, LOVE THE HOLIDAYS presents a stocking stuffed with rockin' new Yuletide favorites, capped off inevitably by the Old 97's take on the New Year's Eve staple, "Auld Lang Syne." Among the album's many highlights are the title track, co-written with Kevin Russell (The Gourds, Shinyribs), "Gotta Love Being A Kid (Merry Christmas)" and "Snow Angels," both co-written with acclaimed prose writer Ben Greenman, and the continuing saga of everyone's favorite reindeer, "Rudolph Is Blue," co-written by Miller and Dan Bern.
 
"I've thought about making a Christmas record for years and years," Miller says. "My goal was to make a record that could stand up alongside the classics, a record that would offer some new songs to this frustratingly finite list of holiday tunes that we all have to listen to on a loop between Halloween and New Year's Day.  We all get sick of the old ones, so why not try and come up with some new options for people to listen to when they're wrapping their gifts and snuggling in front of the fire?"
 
Speaking of gifts, Miller has teamed with Caldecott Medalist and bestselling artist Dan Santat for NO MORE POEMS!, a hilarious collection of irreverent poems for modern families, to be published March 5th, 2019 by Little/Brown Books For Young Readers. Written in the tradition of Shel Silverstein and Edward Gorey, Miller's poems bring a fresh new twist to the classic dilemmas of childhood as well as a perceptive eye to the foibles of modern family life. Full of clever wordplay and bright visual gags - with toilet humor to spare - these clever verses will have the whole family cackling.
 
"I was missing my kids so bad while out on tour," Miller says. "So I had to come up with a trick to get them to spend time on the phone with me. The trick was, ‘Hey, I wrote a poem, and I need you kids to critique it for me.' I gave them carte blanche to criticize me, to tell me that what I did was stupid. They let me have it, which was so great. It kept them on the phone way longer than if it was just me moping about how lonely I was in Peoria, Illinois or whatever."

Miller - who left Sarah Lawrence with a full scholarship for creative writing to pursue a career in music - has long worked a side game as a writer, publishing a number of essays, short stories, and criticism over the past 20 years. Though NO MORE POEMS! is his first proper book to be published, he firmly avows it will not be his last.
 
"When I dropped out I thought, I'll do rock ‘n' roll when I'm young and then when I'm middle aged, I can segue into writing with decades of experience under my belt," he says. "So now, that plan is coming to fruition. If I have my druthers, I'm going to keep writing books of different stripes for years and years to come. "
 
From THE MESSENGER to LOVE THE HOLIDAYS to NO MORE POEMS!, Miller's current crop of original output is testament to those aforementioned decades of experience, each distinct project marked by his ever-increasing skill set and multi-faceted approach to art and artistry. Having long ago committed himself to the artist's life, he has kept his nose to the grindstone, determined each and every day to create something of quality, meaning, and purpose.
 
"I've always believed that making art gives meaning to life," says Rhett Miller. "So far it's worked out pretty well."

"This has been a hell of a year," Rhett Miller says. "I turned 48 in September and I'm still surprising myself."
 
After more than two decades as founding member of the venerable Old 97's and acclaimed singer-songwriter in his own right, Rhett Miller has crafted a trio of new projects that see him pushing his creative energies in hitherto untraveled directions. Among them are two utterly unique new albums - one solo, the other as part of Old 97's - as well as his first ever book, a collection of subversive kids' poems.
 
THE MESSENGER, Miller's eighth solo album, is perhaps his most unflinchingly personal collection of songs to date. Recorded over five spring days at The Isokon in Woodstock, NY with producer/musician Sam Cohen (Kevin Morby, Benjamin Booker), THE MESSENGER sees Miller playing it faster and looser than perhaps any other time in his quarter century career, instilling songs like the first single, "Total Disaster," with a groovy limberness that belies the reflective darkness within. Backed by a white hot backing combo comprised of Cohen (Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Pedal Steel Guitar, Keys), Brian Betancourt (Bass), and Ray Rizzo (Drums), Miller worked quickly and with purpose, fast-tracking four or five "keepers" each day.
 
"I wanted this record to be less safe," he says. "I wanted to put myself in the hands of a producer who was going to do things that I didn't expect; I wanted to perform with people I didn't know and be surprised by what they came up with. And all of that really came to pass. 

"That's what you're getting with this record. You're getting a locked-in rhythm section with a crazy, psychedelic guitar maestro playing along with me as I dig deep into these songs about depression and insecurity and modern life and somehow wanting to live despite all of it," Miller chuckles. 
 
While that might sound somewhat flip, Miller is in some ways more serious than ever before. THE MESSENGER sees the veteran songsmith diving deep into his own youthful encounters with suicide and depression, placing "a long distance phone call to myself as a 14-year-old" on surprisingly buoyant new songs like "Permanent Damage" and "I Used To Write In Notebooks."
 
"For a lot of years I tried to keep self-reference out of my work," he says, "and I believe there's a lot to be said for that. There's enough about what I do that's masturbatory without me reading from my diary. But at a certain point, when you want to dig into personal issues and maybe explore things from your own past, you have to let yourself go there."

Miller hadn't publicly addressed his adolescent suicide attempt until a 2008 interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. "She asked me about my suicide attempt and I found myself telling her the story. I was surprised at how people responded. I ended up doing a little work on behalf of the National Suicide Prevention Network and that kind of blossomed to where I've made a point of recognizing my own history and doing whatever I can to try and bring it out of the shadows and make it something people are okay talking about. But even then, I'd never really recognized it in my own work."

And while THE MESSENGER addresses this darkness head-on many times, the album also visits the brighter corners. Songs like "You Were A Stranger" and "Wheels" speak to the joy that comes with having survived. Towards the end of "Wheels," when Miller sings "I'm broken, we're all broken, we just keep on trying," it's clearly a rallying cry rather than a lament.

After delving inward to create THE MESSENGER, Miller rejoined his mates in the Old 97's - Murry Hammond (Bass, Vocals), Ken Bethea (Electric Guitar), and Philip Peeples (Drums & Percussion) - to make a red-and-green gift for the world. Produced, mixed & engineered by John Pedigo in the band's home state of Texas, LOVE THE HOLIDAYS presents a stocking stuffed with rockin' new Yuletide favorites, capped off inevitably by the Old 97's take on the New Year's Eve staple, "Auld Lang Syne." Among the album's many highlights are the title track, co-written with Kevin Russell (The Gourds, Shinyribs), "Gotta Love Being A Kid (Merry Christmas)" and "Snow Angels," both co-written with acclaimed prose writer Ben Greenman, and the continuing saga of everyone's favorite reindeer, "Rudolph Is Blue," co-written by Miller and Dan Bern.
 
"I've thought about making a Christmas record for years and years," Miller says. "My goal was to make a record that could stand up alongside the classics, a record that would offer some new songs to this frustratingly finite list of holiday tunes that we all have to listen to on a loop between Halloween and New Year's Day.  We all get sick of the old ones, so why not try and come up with some new options for people to listen to when they're wrapping their gifts and snuggling in front of the fire?"
 
Speaking of gifts, Miller has teamed with Caldecott Medalist and bestselling artist Dan Santat for NO MORE POEMS!, a hilarious collection of irreverent poems for modern families, to be published March 5th, 2019 by Little/Brown Books For Young Readers. Written in the tradition of Shel Silverstein and Edward Gorey, Miller's poems bring a fresh new twist to the classic dilemmas of childhood as well as a perceptive eye to the foibles of modern family life. Full of clever wordplay and bright visual gags - with toilet humor to spare - these clever verses will have the whole family cackling.
 
"I was missing my kids so bad while out on tour," Miller says. "So I had to come up with a trick to get them to spend time on the phone with me. The trick was, ‘Hey, I wrote a poem, and I need you kids to critique it for me.' I gave them carte blanche to criticize me, to tell me that what I did was stupid. They let me have it, which was so great. It kept them on the phone way longer than if it was just me moping about how lonely I was in Peoria, Illinois or whatever."

Miller - who left Sarah Lawrence with a full scholarship for creative writing to pursue a career in music - has long worked a side game as a writer, publishing a number of essays, short stories, and criticism over the past 20 years. Though NO MORE POEMS! is his first proper book to be published, he firmly avows it will not be his last.
 
"When I dropped out I thought, I'll do rock ‘n' roll when I'm young and then when I'm middle aged, I can segue into writing with decades of experience under my belt," he says. "So now, that plan is coming to fruition. If I have my druthers, I'm going to keep writing books of different stripes for years and years to come. "
 
From THE MESSENGER to LOVE THE HOLIDAYS to NO MORE POEMS!, Miller's current crop of original output is testament to those aforementioned decades of experience, each distinct project marked by his ever-increasing skill set and multi-faceted approach to art and artistry. Having long ago committed himself to the artist's life, he has kept his nose to the grindstone, determined each and every day to create something of quality, meaning, and purpose.
 
"I've always believed that making art gives meaning to life," says Rhett Miller. "So far it's worked out pretty well."

The Steel Wheels

“Few groups have come as far in such a short period of time as The Steel Wheels…” – NPR’s Mountain Stage

Virginia-based acoustic roots music collective The Steel Wheels have announced the July 12th release of their 7th full-length album, Over The Trees. Recorded in Maine with producer Sam Kassirer, Over The Trees draws attention to the impeccable harmonies of the four original members: Trent Wagler (guitar/banjo), Eric Brubaker (fiddle), Brian Dickel (bass), and Jay Lapp (guitars/mandolin). Kevin Garcia, who plays multiple percussion instruments, keyboard, and mallet-based instruments, formally joined the band after the 2017 release of Wild as We Came Here, which Kassirer also produced. In addition to familiar-to-fans harmonies, The Steel Wheels ventured a little farther out of their known comfort zone for Over The Trees. “This is a bit of an experimental record at times, with new sounds and influences,” Wagler says. “We know where we come from. We are a string band from Virginia, but we are evolving with this album, and we are embracing the future.”

Over The Trees opens with the percussion-heavy groove of “Rains Come,” a rehashing of the classic tale of Noah and his ark in relation to today’s contingency of climate change deniers. “If there are real dangers ahead in our planet’s hope for survival, why isn’t it all any of us are talking about?” asks Wagler, the song’s primary writer. “It’s overwhelming, that’s why. I don’t like admitting that I get stuck right there, but this song offers some of those questions.” A little deeper into the record, the swampy chant of “Something New” ushers in a recurring theme on Over The Trees; mantra and meditation. “Get To Work” is another tune that falls under the theme. Wagler muses, “I know that ‘Get To Work’ is self-talk for when I’m feeling down, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, or when I’m feeling like, ‘Ugh, what do we do this for?’” Certainly though, not all the songs on Over The Trees fall so neatly under that umbrella. “Time To Rest,” co-written by Wagler and southern songstress Sarah Siskind, reflects on the weight of letting down friends or loved ones in a lilting feel that Wagler calls “an implied Levon Helm swing.” The album closes with “This Year,” a wistful a cappella ode to keeping an optimistic spirit, even down to showing gratitude for the cat who is waiting for you when you finally get home.

On the whole, Over The Trees is a collection of songs about surviving tragedy. “At times our human response is muted and resigned, at other times triumphant and steadfast,” notes The Steel Wheels’ fiddle master Eric Brubaker, who’s outlook on the album changed significantly when he lost his 10 year old daughter to a sudden illness earlier this year. "Over the Trees is an ode to the community that rises up to support those in need, and is dedicated to the memory of Norah Brubaker."

The release of Over The Trees coincides with the band’s Red Wing Roots Music Festival, which they have hosted and curated for seven years. “Lucky number seven, can you believe it?” said Wagler. “The changes of seasons in Virginia are always something to behold. The colors of fall, the cool, quiet, darkness of winter, and the new growth of spring bringing us to our full bloom in the heat of summer. Summertime brings vacation for many, perhaps a slower pace, but in our modern age, it also comes with so many great choices for recreation and fun. We are charmed and delighted that somewhere along the way, among all the different choices, so many of you have joined our Red Wing family.” The community of Red Wing and the greater community of Steel Wheels fans have been the driving factor of what sets the band apart from their contemporaries and peers in a densely populated digital age. The love and kindness that breathes life into The Steel Wheels’ music flows freely from the stage, into the audience, and is taken from there into the world as a medicine; a much-needed pick-me-up for today’s trying times.

“Few groups have come as far in such a short period of time as The Steel Wheels…” – NPR’s Mountain Stage

Virginia-based acoustic roots music collective The Steel Wheels have announced the July 12th release of their 7th full-length album, Over The Trees. Recorded in Maine with producer Sam Kassirer, Over The Trees draws attention to the impeccable harmonies of the four original members: Trent Wagler (guitar/banjo), Eric Brubaker (fiddle), Brian Dickel (bass), and Jay Lapp (guitars/mandolin). Kevin Garcia, who plays multiple percussion instruments, keyboard, and mallet-based instruments, formally joined the band after the 2017 release of Wild as We Came Here, which Kassirer also produced. In addition to familiar-to-fans harmonies, The Steel Wheels ventured a little farther out of their known comfort zone for Over The Trees. “This is a bit of an experimental record at times, with new sounds and influences,” Wagler says. “We know where we come from. We are a string band from Virginia, but we are evolving with this album, and we are embracing the future.”

Over The Trees opens with the percussion-heavy groove of “Rains Come,” a rehashing of the classic tale of Noah and his ark in relation to today’s contingency of climate change deniers. “If there are real dangers ahead in our planet’s hope for survival, why isn’t it all any of us are talking about?” asks Wagler, the song’s primary writer. “It’s overwhelming, that’s why. I don’t like admitting that I get stuck right there, but this song offers some of those questions.” A little deeper into the record, the swampy chant of “Something New” ushers in a recurring theme on Over The Trees; mantra and meditation. “Get To Work” is another tune that falls under the theme. Wagler muses, “I know that ‘Get To Work’ is self-talk for when I’m feeling down, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, or when I’m feeling like, ‘Ugh, what do we do this for?’” Certainly though, not all the songs on Over The Trees fall so neatly under that umbrella. “Time To Rest,” co-written by Wagler and southern songstress Sarah Siskind, reflects on the weight of letting down friends or loved ones in a lilting feel that Wagler calls “an implied Levon Helm swing.” The album closes with “This Year,” a wistful a cappella ode to keeping an optimistic spirit, even down to showing gratitude for the cat who is waiting for you when you finally get home.

On the whole, Over The Trees is a collection of songs about surviving tragedy. “At times our human response is muted and resigned, at other times triumphant and steadfast,” notes The Steel Wheels’ fiddle master Eric Brubaker, who’s outlook on the album changed significantly when he lost his 10 year old daughter to a sudden illness earlier this year. "Over the Trees is an ode to the community that rises up to support those in need, and is dedicated to the memory of Norah Brubaker."

The release of Over The Trees coincides with the band’s Red Wing Roots Music Festival, which they have hosted and curated for seven years. “Lucky number seven, can you believe it?” said Wagler. “The changes of seasons in Virginia are always something to behold. The colors of fall, the cool, quiet, darkness of winter, and the new growth of spring bringing us to our full bloom in the heat of summer. Summertime brings vacation for many, perhaps a slower pace, but in our modern age, it also comes with so many great choices for recreation and fun. We are charmed and delighted that somewhere along the way, among all the different choices, so many of you have joined our Red Wing family.” The community of Red Wing and the greater community of Steel Wheels fans have been the driving factor of what sets the band apart from their contemporaries and peers in a densely populated digital age. The love and kindness that breathes life into The Steel Wheels’ music flows freely from the stage, into the audience, and is taken from there into the world as a medicine; a much-needed pick-me-up for today’s trying times.

SOLD OUT - (Early Show) An Evening With James McMurtry - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP

James McMurtry has been working with legendary Los Angeles-based producer Ross Hogarth at Santa Monica's GrooveMasters for his forthcoming album. Liner notes enthusiasts know multiple-Grammy-winning producer/engineer/mixer Hogarth from his work with Gov’t Mule, Roger Waters, The Black Crowes, Shawn Colvin, John Mellencamp, R.E.M.and Jewel, among many others. Hogarth’s wide and varied experience and taste opened up all creative doors and usual and unusual possibilities for all their classics. And no need to explain the incredible GrooveMasters Studio.

Hogarth has never allowed himself to be pigeonholed or trapped in any one musical genre as his studio work runs the gamut from the heavy metal icons Mötley Crüe to the Grammy-winning Americana favorite Keb’ Mo’ to recent releases by Van Halen, Ziggy Marley and the Sick Puppies. Exclusive and particular in its clientele, the semi-private Santa Monica recording studio where McMurtry will be recording has recently opened its doors to Laurel Canyon legends such as David Crosby, Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon, David Bromberg and more. The spiritual vibe and feel of this studio, along with the cast of characters, will most definitely bring out the best in the upcoming McMurtry record.

Other notable players on the album (in addition to his stellar band) include David Grissom (John Mellencamp) and Harmoni Kelley (Kenny Chesney). McMurtry will unleash this latest collection of poignant and timely songs on New West Records this fall! “I first became aware of James McMurtry’s formidable songwriting prowess while working at Bug Music Publishing in the ’90s,” says New West President John Allen. “He’s a true talent. All of us at New West are excited at the prospect of championing the next phase of James’ already successful and respected career.” McMurtry joins New West's singular roster of top-tier roots music all-stars including Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, John Hiatt, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Buddy Miller, Nikki Lane and dozens more.

James McMurtry has been working with legendary Los Angeles-based producer Ross Hogarth at Santa Monica's GrooveMasters for his forthcoming album. Liner notes enthusiasts know multiple-Grammy-winning producer/engineer/mixer Hogarth from his work with Gov’t Mule, Roger Waters, The Black Crowes, Shawn Colvin, John Mellencamp, R.E.M.and Jewel, among many others. Hogarth’s wide and varied experience and taste opened up all creative doors and usual and unusual possibilities for all their classics. And no need to explain the incredible GrooveMasters Studio.

Hogarth has never allowed himself to be pigeonholed or trapped in any one musical genre as his studio work runs the gamut from the heavy metal icons Mötley Crüe to the Grammy-winning Americana favorite Keb’ Mo’ to recent releases by Van Halen, Ziggy Marley and the Sick Puppies. Exclusive and particular in its clientele, the semi-private Santa Monica recording studio where McMurtry will be recording has recently opened its doors to Laurel Canyon legends such as David Crosby, Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon, David Bromberg and more. The spiritual vibe and feel of this studio, along with the cast of characters, will most definitely bring out the best in the upcoming McMurtry record.

Other notable players on the album (in addition to his stellar band) include David Grissom (John Mellencamp) and Harmoni Kelley (Kenny Chesney). McMurtry will unleash this latest collection of poignant and timely songs on New West Records this fall! “I first became aware of James McMurtry’s formidable songwriting prowess while working at Bug Music Publishing in the ’90s,” says New West President John Allen. “He’s a true talent. All of us at New West are excited at the prospect of championing the next phase of James’ already successful and respected career.” McMurtry joins New West's singular roster of top-tier roots music all-stars including Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, John Hiatt, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Buddy Miller, Nikki Lane and dozens more.

(Late Show) An Evening With James McMurtry - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP

James McMurtry has been working with legendary Los Angeles-based producer Ross Hogarth at Santa Monica's GrooveMasters for his forthcoming album. Liner notes enthusiasts know multiple-Grammy-winning producer/engineer/mixer Hogarth from his work with Gov’t Mule, Roger Waters, The Black Crowes, Shawn Colvin, John Mellencamp, R.E.M.and Jewel, among many others. Hogarth’s wide and varied experience and taste opened up all creative doors and usual and unusual possibilities for all their classics. And no need to explain the incredible GrooveMasters Studio.

Hogarth has never allowed himself to be pigeonholed or trapped in any one musical genre as his studio work runs the gamut from the heavy metal icons Mötley Crüe to the Grammy-winning Americana favorite Keb’ Mo’ to recent releases by Van Halen, Ziggy Marley and the Sick Puppies. Exclusive and particular in its clientele, the semi-private Santa Monica recording studio where McMurtry will be recording has recently opened its doors to Laurel Canyon legends such as David Crosby, Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon, David Bromberg and more. The spiritual vibe and feel of this studio, along with the cast of characters, will most definitely bring out the best in the upcoming McMurtry record.

Other notable players on the album (in addition to his stellar band) include David Grissom (John Mellencamp) and Harmoni Kelley (Kenny Chesney). McMurtry will unleash this latest collection of poignant and timely songs on New West Records this fall! “I first became aware of James McMurtry’s formidable songwriting prowess while working at Bug Music Publishing in the ’90s,” says New West President John Allen. “He’s a true talent. All of us at New West are excited at the prospect of championing the next phase of James’ already successful and respected career.” McMurtry joins New West's singular roster of top-tier roots music all-stars including Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, John Hiatt, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Buddy Miller, Nikki Lane and dozens more.

James McMurtry has been working with legendary Los Angeles-based producer Ross Hogarth at Santa Monica's GrooveMasters for his forthcoming album. Liner notes enthusiasts know multiple-Grammy-winning producer/engineer/mixer Hogarth from his work with Gov’t Mule, Roger Waters, The Black Crowes, Shawn Colvin, John Mellencamp, R.E.M.and Jewel, among many others. Hogarth’s wide and varied experience and taste opened up all creative doors and usual and unusual possibilities for all their classics. And no need to explain the incredible GrooveMasters Studio.

Hogarth has never allowed himself to be pigeonholed or trapped in any one musical genre as his studio work runs the gamut from the heavy metal icons Mötley Crüe to the Grammy-winning Americana favorite Keb’ Mo’ to recent releases by Van Halen, Ziggy Marley and the Sick Puppies. Exclusive and particular in its clientele, the semi-private Santa Monica recording studio where McMurtry will be recording has recently opened its doors to Laurel Canyon legends such as David Crosby, Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon, David Bromberg and more. The spiritual vibe and feel of this studio, along with the cast of characters, will most definitely bring out the best in the upcoming McMurtry record.

Other notable players on the album (in addition to his stellar band) include David Grissom (John Mellencamp) and Harmoni Kelley (Kenny Chesney). McMurtry will unleash this latest collection of poignant and timely songs on New West Records this fall! “I first became aware of James McMurtry’s formidable songwriting prowess while working at Bug Music Publishing in the ’90s,” says New West President John Allen. “He’s a true talent. All of us at New West are excited at the prospect of championing the next phase of James’ already successful and respected career.” McMurtry joins New West's singular roster of top-tier roots music all-stars including Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, John Hiatt, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Buddy Miller, Nikki Lane and dozens more.

Kat Edmonson: Dreamers Do Tour 2020

Kat Edmonson has played major stages across the United States, Europe and Japan. The Texas native and Brooklyn transplant forged her sound performing in small rooms and clubs before touring worldwide and performing with Lyle Lovett, Chris Isaak, Jaime Cullum and Gary Clark, Jr. In the decade since, Edmonson has emerged as one of the most distinctive performers in contemporary American music.

With a sweetly mellifluous soprano echoing Blossom Dearie’s lighter-than-air approach as well as her gift for evocative songwriting, the 35-year-old is a rare artist who embodies the spirit of the past while remaining resolutely au courant. Her unusually charming and seamless blend of old and new has garnered attention on NPR Tiny Desk concert, Austin City Limits TV, and A Prairie Home Companion. Other notable appearances include one of David Letterman’s final Late Night shows with Western Swing masters Asleep at the Wheel and Woody Allen’s film, Café Society backed up by New York’s premiere jazz ensemble, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. In 2018, Edmonson released her cinematically inspired, fourth album, Old Fashioned Gal to warm critical acclaim. The Associated Press describes Edmonson, "Part bashful debutante, part starry-eyed fiancée, part world-wise seductress, her voice possesses a singular expressiveness."

Kat Edmonson has played major stages across the United States, Europe and Japan. The Texas native and Brooklyn transplant forged her sound performing in small rooms and clubs before touring worldwide and performing with Lyle Lovett, Chris Isaak, Jaime Cullum and Gary Clark, Jr. In the decade since, Edmonson has emerged as one of the most distinctive performers in contemporary American music.

With a sweetly mellifluous soprano echoing Blossom Dearie’s lighter-than-air approach as well as her gift for evocative songwriting, the 35-year-old is a rare artist who embodies the spirit of the past while remaining resolutely au courant. Her unusually charming and seamless blend of old and new has garnered attention on NPR Tiny Desk concert, Austin City Limits TV, and A Prairie Home Companion. Other notable appearances include one of David Letterman’s final Late Night shows with Western Swing masters Asleep at the Wheel and Woody Allen’s film, Café Society backed up by New York’s premiere jazz ensemble, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. In 2018, Edmonson released her cinematically inspired, fourth album, Old Fashioned Gal to warm critical acclaim. The Associated Press describes Edmonson, "Part bashful debutante, part starry-eyed fiancée, part world-wise seductress, her voice possesses a singular expressiveness."

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