club cafe

pittsburgh, pa
Patrick Sweany

Patrick Sweany likes the spaces in between.

On a given night (or on a given album) he'll swing through blues, folk, soul, bluegrass, maybe some classic 50s rock, or a punk speedball. He's a musical omnivore, devouring every popular music sound of the last 70 years, and mixing 'em all together seamlessly into his own stew. Yet, the one thing that most people notice about Patrick isn't his ability to copy - it's his authenticity. Like his heroes, artists like Bobby "Blue" Bland, Doug Sahm, Joe Tex, Patrick somehow manages to blend all of these influences into something all his own.

It's no wonder that as a kid he immersed himself in his dad's extensive record collection: 60s folk, vintage country, soul, and, of course, blues. Patrick spent hours teaching himself to fingerpick along to Leadbelly, Lightnin' Hopkins, and other folk-blues giants.

In his late teens, Patrick began playing the clubs and coffeehouses around Kent, OH. He quickly gained a reputation for the intricate country blues style he was developing: part Piedmont picking, part Delta slide - with an equally impressive deep, smooth vocal style.

But Patrick wouldn't stay in the acoustic world for long. His love of 50s era soul and rock fused with the adrenaline-soaked garage punk revival happening throughout the Rust Belt pushed him to form a band.

After 7 critically acclaimed records (two produced by longtime collaborator Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys), Patrick has expanded his touring radius to 49 states and Europe. He's played premiere festivals (Newport Folk Fest, Merlefest, Montreal Jazz Fest, Telluride Blues & Brews) and supported international acts such as The Black Keys, The Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Wood Brothers, Hot Tuna, and others on tour.

His forthcoming record, Ancient Noise, comes out in Spring 2018. It was recordedat historic Sam Phillips Recording by acclaimed producer/engineer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margot Price) and features an all-star backing band: Ken Coomer on drums (ex-Wilco), Ted Pecchio on bass (Doyle Bramhall II, Susan Tedeschi), and the legendary Charles Hodges on keys (Al Green). Ancient Noise is a great amalgam of Sweany's evolving sounds, from the gritty blues of the openers "Old Time Ways" and "Up & Down," to the piano-based ballad "Country Loving." "We also added a lot more funk to this record," says Sweany. "There's a definite nod to the Deep South 70s sound of Allen Toussaint productions and Little Feat jams."

Patrick Sweany likes the spaces in between.

On a given night (or on a given album) he'll swing through blues, folk, soul, bluegrass, maybe some classic 50s rock, or a punk speedball. He's a musical omnivore, devouring every popular music sound of the last 70 years, and mixing 'em all together seamlessly into his own stew. Yet, the one thing that most people notice about Patrick isn't his ability to copy - it's his authenticity. Like his heroes, artists like Bobby "Blue" Bland, Doug Sahm, Joe Tex, Patrick somehow manages to blend all of these influences into something all his own.

It's no wonder that as a kid he immersed himself in his dad's extensive record collection: 60s folk, vintage country, soul, and, of course, blues. Patrick spent hours teaching himself to fingerpick along to Leadbelly, Lightnin' Hopkins, and other folk-blues giants.

In his late teens, Patrick began playing the clubs and coffeehouses around Kent, OH. He quickly gained a reputation for the intricate country blues style he was developing: part Piedmont picking, part Delta slide - with an equally impressive deep, smooth vocal style.

But Patrick wouldn't stay in the acoustic world for long. His love of 50s era soul and rock fused with the adrenaline-soaked garage punk revival happening throughout the Rust Belt pushed him to form a band.

After 7 critically acclaimed records (two produced by longtime collaborator Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys), Patrick has expanded his touring radius to 49 states and Europe. He's played premiere festivals (Newport Folk Fest, Merlefest, Montreal Jazz Fest, Telluride Blues & Brews) and supported international acts such as The Black Keys, The Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Wood Brothers, Hot Tuna, and others on tour.

His forthcoming record, Ancient Noise, comes out in Spring 2018. It was recordedat historic Sam Phillips Recording by acclaimed producer/engineer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margot Price) and features an all-star backing band: Ken Coomer on drums (ex-Wilco), Ted Pecchio on bass (Doyle Bramhall II, Susan Tedeschi), and the legendary Charles Hodges on keys (Al Green). Ancient Noise is a great amalgam of Sweany's evolving sounds, from the gritty blues of the openers "Old Time Ways" and "Up & Down," to the piano-based ballad "Country Loving." "We also added a lot more funk to this record," says Sweany. "There's a definite nod to the Deep South 70s sound of Allen Toussaint productions and Little Feat jams."

(Early Show) The Damaged Pies - Last One Out Shuts the Lights 30th Anniversary Show Benefiting WhyHunger

Since its' inception, Damaged Pies has played and recorded at some of the most legendary venues in world. From CBGB's in New York City to the Whisky a-go-go in L.A., from Liverpool's Cavern to Sun Studio in Memphis to Trident Studios in London, from Farm Aid Eve in Hershey to The Surf Ballroom in Iowa, from Damaged Pies Day in Pittsburgh to Toronto to Philly, from Athens to Boston, from Wrigley Field to Three Rivers Stadium from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco to the Wheeling Jamboree to Nashville and all points in between, Damaged Pies has been one of rock and roll's most durable and well-traveled acts.

Damaged Pies/ Steve Bodner has also been honored with the Jefferson Award for Public Service. The Damaged Pies current single to benefit WhyHUnger's Artists Against Hunger and Poverty is entitled Same Circus, Different Town and features David Hentschel (Elton John, Genesis) and covert art by Bernie Taupin (Elton John).

The Damaged Pies new album, The Stars on a Summer’s Night, is available now on Amazon, I-Tunes, CD Baby and Spotify and features cover art, And Blue by Bernie Taupin. One of the tracks, We Must Learn to Live Together features the words of Civil Rights Leader and Georgia State Representative John Lewis.

Musicians for Hunger Relief's new song, Louder Than Concorde features Rock and Roll Legends Adam Marsland (The Beach Boys, Wilson Phillips), Spooner Oldham (Aretha Franklin, Crosby Stills, Nash and Young, Percy Sledge) and Caleb Quaye (Elton John, Hall and Oates).

Damaged Pies has opened for former Beatle Pete Best, Marshall Crenshaw, Alejandro Escovedo, Pegi Young (Neil’s wife), James McCartney, The Atomic Punks, Peter Case, former Eagle Don Felder, Peter Mulvey, John Hall (Orleans) Wayne “The Train” Hancock and Jen Chapin.

Damaged Pies is a member of WhyHunger's Artists Against Hunger & Poverty, The Recording Academy, Pittsburgh Legends Awards and ASCAP. Damaged Pies also founded Pittsburgh Musicians for Hunger Relief. The Damaged Pies Steve Bodner is also a District Advocate for The Recording Academy/ The Grammys.
Damaged Pies movie Same Circus, Different Town is available on You Tube.

Since its' inception, Damaged Pies has played and recorded at some of the most legendary venues in world. From CBGB's in New York City to the Whisky a-go-go in L.A., from Liverpool's Cavern to Sun Studio in Memphis to Trident Studios in London, from Farm Aid Eve in Hershey to The Surf Ballroom in Iowa, from Damaged Pies Day in Pittsburgh to Toronto to Philly, from Athens to Boston, from Wrigley Field to Three Rivers Stadium from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco to the Wheeling Jamboree to Nashville and all points in between, Damaged Pies has been one of rock and roll's most durable and well-traveled acts.

Damaged Pies/ Steve Bodner has also been honored with the Jefferson Award for Public Service. The Damaged Pies current single to benefit WhyHUnger's Artists Against Hunger and Poverty is entitled Same Circus, Different Town and features David Hentschel (Elton John, Genesis) and covert art by Bernie Taupin (Elton John).

The Damaged Pies new album, The Stars on a Summer’s Night, is available now on Amazon, I-Tunes, CD Baby and Spotify and features cover art, And Blue by Bernie Taupin. One of the tracks, We Must Learn to Live Together features the words of Civil Rights Leader and Georgia State Representative John Lewis.

Musicians for Hunger Relief's new song, Louder Than Concorde features Rock and Roll Legends Adam Marsland (The Beach Boys, Wilson Phillips), Spooner Oldham (Aretha Franklin, Crosby Stills, Nash and Young, Percy Sledge) and Caleb Quaye (Elton John, Hall and Oates).

Damaged Pies has opened for former Beatle Pete Best, Marshall Crenshaw, Alejandro Escovedo, Pegi Young (Neil’s wife), James McCartney, The Atomic Punks, Peter Case, former Eagle Don Felder, Peter Mulvey, John Hall (Orleans) Wayne “The Train” Hancock and Jen Chapin.

Damaged Pies is a member of WhyHunger's Artists Against Hunger & Poverty, The Recording Academy, Pittsburgh Legends Awards and ASCAP. Damaged Pies also founded Pittsburgh Musicians for Hunger Relief. The Damaged Pies Steve Bodner is also a District Advocate for The Recording Academy/ The Grammys.
Damaged Pies movie Same Circus, Different Town is available on You Tube.

Mipso

Chapel Hill’s indie Americana quartet Mipso – Jacob Sharp (mandolin, vocals), Wood Robinson (bass, vocals), Joseph Terrell (guitar, vocals), and Libby Rodenbough (fiddle, vocals) – release their fifth album, Edges Run, on April 6th, 2018 via a newly inked record deal with AntiFragile Music. Influenced by the contradiction of its progressive home and the surrounding rural southern landscapes, Mipso has been hailed as “hewing surprisingly close to gospel and folk while still sounding modern and secular”(Acoustic Guitar) and was recently recognized by Rolling Stone as an “ Artist You Need to Know.” The band brings a distinctly unique sound – full of wistful beauty, hopeful undercurrents, and panoramic soundscapes. Venturing ever-further from its string-band pedigree to discover a broader Americana where classic folk-rock and modern alt-country sounds mingle easily with Appalachian tradition, Mipso’s music is lush and forward moving, with lyrics that sear and salve in turn. Look for Mipso on tour this spring in support of their new release, Edges Run.

Chapel Hill’s indie Americana quartet Mipso – Jacob Sharp (mandolin, vocals), Wood Robinson (bass, vocals), Joseph Terrell (guitar, vocals), and Libby Rodenbough (fiddle, vocals) – release their fifth album, Edges Run, on April 6th, 2018 via a newly inked record deal with AntiFragile Music. Influenced by the contradiction of its progressive home and the surrounding rural southern landscapes, Mipso has been hailed as “hewing surprisingly close to gospel and folk while still sounding modern and secular”(Acoustic Guitar) and was recently recognized by Rolling Stone as an “ Artist You Need to Know.” The band brings a distinctly unique sound – full of wistful beauty, hopeful undercurrents, and panoramic soundscapes. Venturing ever-further from its string-band pedigree to discover a broader Americana where classic folk-rock and modern alt-country sounds mingle easily with Appalachian tradition, Mipso’s music is lush and forward moving, with lyrics that sear and salve in turn. Look for Mipso on tour this spring in support of their new release, Edges Run.

An Evening With Chris Smither

Born in Miami, during World War II, Chris Smither grew up in New Orleans where he first started playing music as a child. The son of a Tulane University professor, he was taught the rudiments of instrumentation by his uncle on his mother’s ukulele. “Uncle Howard,” Smither says, “showed me that if you knew three chords, you could play a lot of the songs you heard on the radio. And if you knew four chords, you could pretty much rule the world.” With that bit of knowledge under his belt, he was hooked. “I’d loved acoustic music – specifically the blues – ever since I first heard Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Blues In My Bottle album. I couldn’t believe the sound Hopkins got. At first I thought it was two guys playing guitar. My style, to a degree, came out of trying to imitate that sound I heard.”

In his early twenties, Smither turned his back on his anthropology studies and headed to Boston at the urging of legendary folk singer Eric von Schmidt. It was the mid-’60s and acoustic music thrived in the streets and coffeehouses there. Smither forged lifelong friendships with many musicians, including Bonnie Raitt who went on to record his songs, “Love You Like A Man” and “I Feel the Same. (Their friendship has endured as their career paths intertwined over the years.) What quickly evolved from his New Orleans and Cambridge musical experiences is his enduring, singular guitar sound – a beat-driven finger-picking, strongly influenced by the playing of Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins, layered over the ever-present backbeat of his rhythmic, tapping feet (always mic’d in performance).

Smither’s first albums, I’m A Stranger, Too! (1971) and Don’t It Drag On (1972) were released on Poppy Records, home of kindred spirit Townes Van Zandt. By the time Smither recorded his third album, Honeysuckle Dog with Lowell George and Dr. John helping out, United Artists had absorbed Poppy and ultimately dropped much of their roster, including Smither. Smither made his next record in 1985, when the spare It Ain’t Easy on Adelphi Records marked his return to the studio.

By the early ’90s, Smither’s steady nationwide touring and regular release of consistently acclaimed albums cemented his reputation as one of the finest acoustic musicians in the country. His 1991 album, Another Way to Find You, was recorded live in front of an in-studio audience with no overdubs or second takes. This would be the first of two albums with Flying Fish Records. His next recording, Happier Blue, was embraced by Triple A radio and received the NAIRD (now AFIM) award as Best Folk Recording of 1993. Up On The Lowdown (1995) marked the first of a trio of albums to be recorded with producer Stephen Bruton at The Hit Shack in Austin and his first of five albums with roots label HighTone Records. Up On the Lowdown rode the crest of the newly formed Americana radio format wave and sparked considerable interest abroad. A tour of Australia with Dave Alvin and extensive solo touring in Europe led to an expanding global interest in Smither. His song, “I Am the Ride,” from this album inspired the independent film, The Ride, for which Smither also composed the original score.

In early 1997 Smither released Small Revelations. It climbed the Americana and Triple A radio charts and led to concert dates with B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Nanci Griffith, and the hugely successful, original Monsters of Folk’ tour with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dave Alvin and Tom Russell. Small Revelations also generated several film projects for Smither. Emmylou Harris recorded his song, “Slow Surprise,” for the The Horse Whisperer soundtrack on MCA. And his recording of “Hold On” was used in the indie feature film Love From Ground Zero. Smither also shared insight into his guitar style and technique on two instructional DVDs, available from Homespun Video.

His CD, Drive You Home Again (1999), garnered four-stars from Rolling Stone. And with it, Smither continued to tour world-wide. Shortly after, in 2000, Smither released his one-man-tour-de-force, Live As I’ll Ever Be. Recorded in-concert at various clubs and concert halls in California, Dublin, Galway, Boston, and Washington DC, it has proven to be a fan favorite, capturing Smither at what he loves to do: performing in front of an audience.

Train Home (2003) was Smither’s last record for HighTone and his first with producer David Goodrich. Over a six-week period, basic tracks for Train Home were recorded in the relaxed environment of Smither’s home near Boston. Working with new session musicians, the record is simultaneously sparse and assured. Bonnie Raitt graciously provided backing vocals and slide guitar on Smither’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row.” And Smither’s “Seems So Real” from the CD earned a Folk Alliance Award as “Song of the Year.”

In 2005, jazz great Diana Krall covered “Love Me Like A Man,” introducing what is now a blues standard to a whole world of jazz fans. Shortly after, Smither’s song “Slow Surprise” was included in the independent film, Brother’s Shadow. In addition, Smither narrated a two-CD audio book recording of “Will Rogers’ Greatest Hits.” Continuing to expand his creative horizon, Smither was invited to contribute an essay to Sixty Things to Do When You Turn Sixty, a 2006 collection of essays by American luminaries on reaching that milestone. In 2009, Melville House published Amplified, a book featuring 16 short stories by notable American performing songwriters. Smither’s story Leroy Purcell about a touring musician’s encounter with a Texas State Patrolman leads off the collection.

With the release of his 12th recording Leave The Light On (2006) on his own imprint, Mighty Albert, Smither began a new label relationship with the renowned acoustic and modern folk label, Signature Sounds. For the recording, Smither reunited with producer David Goodrich and session musicians Mike Piehl, Lou Ulrich and Anita Suhanin. As an added treat, Smither invited good friend and Grammy Award-winning multi-instrumentalist, Tim O’Brien, along with rising American roots stars, Ollabelle, to add their distinctive talents on several tracks. Smither followed this with Time Stands Still (2009), his most stripped down recording in some time, working with just two accompanists after the same trio had played a rare band performance – a non-solo setup required in order to play a Netherlands festival.

About the recording Smither says, “We’re the only three guys on this record, and most of the songs only have three parts going on. We had a freewheeling feeling at that festival gig, and we managed to make a lot of that same feeling happen in this record.” In 2011 Smither put out two fan projects: a collection of live tracks from newly discovered concert recordings from the 1980s-1990s titled Lost and Found and the rollicking EP, What I Learned in School, on which Smither covered six classic rock and roll songs.

Smither followed these fan-projects with Hundred Dollar Valentine (2012), a ★★★★★ (MOJO) studio record of all Smither-penned songs. With longtime producer David “Goody” Goodrich at the helm, this collection sported Smither’s trademark acoustic guitar sound and evocative sonic textures meshed with spare, brilliant songs, delivered in a bone-wise, hard-won voice.

In 2014 Smither released Still on the Levee (2014) – a double-CD retrospective. Recorded in New Orleans at the Music Shed, this career-spanning project features fresh new takes on 24 iconic songs from his vast career and some very special guests including the legendary Allen Toussaint and Loudon Wainwright III.

The coffee table –style book Chris Smither Lyrics 1966-2012 and Signature Sounds’ Link of Chain – an all-star tribute record including a stellar list of artists offering their takes on some Smither favorites including Josh Ritter, Bonnie Raitt, Loudon Wainwright III, Dave Alvin, Peter Case, Tim O’Brien, Patty Larkin, and many others were fan-favorite accompaniments to the retrospective CD .

In March 2018, Smither released his eighteenth record, Call Me Lucky (Signature Sounds/Mighty Albert) once again teaming up with producer and multi-instrumentalist David Goodrich. Also joined by Billy Conway (Morphine) and Matt Lorenz (The Suitcase Junket), Smither recorded eight new originals along with some very special and surprising covers at the Blue Rock studios in the Texas hills in June 2017.

The new records continues what As Acoustic Guitar magazine wrote that, Smither sings about “the big things – life, love, loss – in a penetrating and poetic yet unpretentious way.”

Born in Miami, during World War II, Chris Smither grew up in New Orleans where he first started playing music as a child. The son of a Tulane University professor, he was taught the rudiments of instrumentation by his uncle on his mother’s ukulele. “Uncle Howard,” Smither says, “showed me that if you knew three chords, you could play a lot of the songs you heard on the radio. And if you knew four chords, you could pretty much rule the world.” With that bit of knowledge under his belt, he was hooked. “I’d loved acoustic music – specifically the blues – ever since I first heard Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Blues In My Bottle album. I couldn’t believe the sound Hopkins got. At first I thought it was two guys playing guitar. My style, to a degree, came out of trying to imitate that sound I heard.”

In his early twenties, Smither turned his back on his anthropology studies and headed to Boston at the urging of legendary folk singer Eric von Schmidt. It was the mid-’60s and acoustic music thrived in the streets and coffeehouses there. Smither forged lifelong friendships with many musicians, including Bonnie Raitt who went on to record his songs, “Love You Like A Man” and “I Feel the Same. (Their friendship has endured as their career paths intertwined over the years.) What quickly evolved from his New Orleans and Cambridge musical experiences is his enduring, singular guitar sound – a beat-driven finger-picking, strongly influenced by the playing of Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins, layered over the ever-present backbeat of his rhythmic, tapping feet (always mic’d in performance).

Smither’s first albums, I’m A Stranger, Too! (1971) and Don’t It Drag On (1972) were released on Poppy Records, home of kindred spirit Townes Van Zandt. By the time Smither recorded his third album, Honeysuckle Dog with Lowell George and Dr. John helping out, United Artists had absorbed Poppy and ultimately dropped much of their roster, including Smither. Smither made his next record in 1985, when the spare It Ain’t Easy on Adelphi Records marked his return to the studio.

By the early ’90s, Smither’s steady nationwide touring and regular release of consistently acclaimed albums cemented his reputation as one of the finest acoustic musicians in the country. His 1991 album, Another Way to Find You, was recorded live in front of an in-studio audience with no overdubs or second takes. This would be the first of two albums with Flying Fish Records. His next recording, Happier Blue, was embraced by Triple A radio and received the NAIRD (now AFIM) award as Best Folk Recording of 1993. Up On The Lowdown (1995) marked the first of a trio of albums to be recorded with producer Stephen Bruton at The Hit Shack in Austin and his first of five albums with roots label HighTone Records. Up On the Lowdown rode the crest of the newly formed Americana radio format wave and sparked considerable interest abroad. A tour of Australia with Dave Alvin and extensive solo touring in Europe led to an expanding global interest in Smither. His song, “I Am the Ride,” from this album inspired the independent film, The Ride, for which Smither also composed the original score.

In early 1997 Smither released Small Revelations. It climbed the Americana and Triple A radio charts and led to concert dates with B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Nanci Griffith, and the hugely successful, original Monsters of Folk’ tour with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dave Alvin and Tom Russell. Small Revelations also generated several film projects for Smither. Emmylou Harris recorded his song, “Slow Surprise,” for the The Horse Whisperer soundtrack on MCA. And his recording of “Hold On” was used in the indie feature film Love From Ground Zero. Smither also shared insight into his guitar style and technique on two instructional DVDs, available from Homespun Video.

His CD, Drive You Home Again (1999), garnered four-stars from Rolling Stone. And with it, Smither continued to tour world-wide. Shortly after, in 2000, Smither released his one-man-tour-de-force, Live As I’ll Ever Be. Recorded in-concert at various clubs and concert halls in California, Dublin, Galway, Boston, and Washington DC, it has proven to be a fan favorite, capturing Smither at what he loves to do: performing in front of an audience.

Train Home (2003) was Smither’s last record for HighTone and his first with producer David Goodrich. Over a six-week period, basic tracks for Train Home were recorded in the relaxed environment of Smither’s home near Boston. Working with new session musicians, the record is simultaneously sparse and assured. Bonnie Raitt graciously provided backing vocals and slide guitar on Smither’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row.” And Smither’s “Seems So Real” from the CD earned a Folk Alliance Award as “Song of the Year.”

In 2005, jazz great Diana Krall covered “Love Me Like A Man,” introducing what is now a blues standard to a whole world of jazz fans. Shortly after, Smither’s song “Slow Surprise” was included in the independent film, Brother’s Shadow. In addition, Smither narrated a two-CD audio book recording of “Will Rogers’ Greatest Hits.” Continuing to expand his creative horizon, Smither was invited to contribute an essay to Sixty Things to Do When You Turn Sixty, a 2006 collection of essays by American luminaries on reaching that milestone. In 2009, Melville House published Amplified, a book featuring 16 short stories by notable American performing songwriters. Smither’s story Leroy Purcell about a touring musician’s encounter with a Texas State Patrolman leads off the collection.

With the release of his 12th recording Leave The Light On (2006) on his own imprint, Mighty Albert, Smither began a new label relationship with the renowned acoustic and modern folk label, Signature Sounds. For the recording, Smither reunited with producer David Goodrich and session musicians Mike Piehl, Lou Ulrich and Anita Suhanin. As an added treat, Smither invited good friend and Grammy Award-winning multi-instrumentalist, Tim O’Brien, along with rising American roots stars, Ollabelle, to add their distinctive talents on several tracks. Smither followed this with Time Stands Still (2009), his most stripped down recording in some time, working with just two accompanists after the same trio had played a rare band performance – a non-solo setup required in order to play a Netherlands festival.

About the recording Smither says, “We’re the only three guys on this record, and most of the songs only have three parts going on. We had a freewheeling feeling at that festival gig, and we managed to make a lot of that same feeling happen in this record.” In 2011 Smither put out two fan projects: a collection of live tracks from newly discovered concert recordings from the 1980s-1990s titled Lost and Found and the rollicking EP, What I Learned in School, on which Smither covered six classic rock and roll songs.

Smither followed these fan-projects with Hundred Dollar Valentine (2012), a ★★★★★ (MOJO) studio record of all Smither-penned songs. With longtime producer David “Goody” Goodrich at the helm, this collection sported Smither’s trademark acoustic guitar sound and evocative sonic textures meshed with spare, brilliant songs, delivered in a bone-wise, hard-won voice.

In 2014 Smither released Still on the Levee (2014) – a double-CD retrospective. Recorded in New Orleans at the Music Shed, this career-spanning project features fresh new takes on 24 iconic songs from his vast career and some very special guests including the legendary Allen Toussaint and Loudon Wainwright III.

The coffee table –style book Chris Smither Lyrics 1966-2012 and Signature Sounds’ Link of Chain – an all-star tribute record including a stellar list of artists offering their takes on some Smither favorites including Josh Ritter, Bonnie Raitt, Loudon Wainwright III, Dave Alvin, Peter Case, Tim O’Brien, Patty Larkin, and many others were fan-favorite accompaniments to the retrospective CD .

In March 2018, Smither released his eighteenth record, Call Me Lucky (Signature Sounds/Mighty Albert) once again teaming up with producer and multi-instrumentalist David Goodrich. Also joined by Billy Conway (Morphine) and Matt Lorenz (The Suitcase Junket), Smither recorded eight new originals along with some very special and surprising covers at the Blue Rock studios in the Texas hills in June 2017.

The new records continues what As Acoustic Guitar magazine wrote that, Smither sings about “the big things – life, love, loss – in a penetrating and poetic yet unpretentious way.”

Matthew Logan Vasquez

Matthew Logan Vasquez is feeling optimistic.

That's not necessarily apparent the first time you spin his new full-length solo album. Each track on Matthew Logan Does What He Wants feels urgent and intense. Impatient landlords, financial woes and other frustrations fan the agitation embedded in the opening track, "Same." Isolation darkens the brooding images of "From Behind The Glass." Death takes a bow on "The Fighter." Vasquez can't help but juxtapose the celebration of "Fatherhood" with a lament that "we ain't got the money to pay the hospital." The music enhances this impression. As fans of his work with Delta Spirit and Middle Brother know well, Vasquez knows how to fuse passion and poetry in his writing and then ignite this volatile mix with extraordinarily expressive singing. In this sense he stands as a peer and a worthy successor to those who influenced him as an up-and-coming artist - Neil Young, Kurt Cobain, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed and others often mentioned, none of them known for their upbeat, sunny lyrics. With the 2016 release Solicitor Returns. "That last record had a sarcastic, darker tone. The new one is just as hard-hitting and wide-ranging but with a more positive message." This becomes clearer when you replay Does What He Wants and listen more carefully. On the surface, "Tall Man" unfolds as a journey into self-destruction. But at the end, the subject of the story is repeating "I know I can change," each time with escalating emotion as brought to life in Vasquez's searing vocal. "Bad things happen in the song," he acknowledges. "But it all leads to an epiphany. And that is positive. The truth rarely comes to you in an easy way - not unless you're a wiser person than I am. "My point is that life is a struggle," Vasquez continues. "But how can you have optimism and hope if you don't have something negative? Context is what makes it meaningful." For Vasquez, context involves drawing from dramatically different settings. Growing up in Texas and along the California coast, hunkering down for years in Brooklyn as he finessed his music in a more pressurized urban context and then heading back to Austin to put all the pieces together, he took note of the differences and similarities these places offered. During much of that time he channeled his experiences into Delta Spirit, whose albums inspired critics to laud the band as "restless and defiant" (Paste), its music infused by "waves of measured ferocity" (Uncut) and "significant depth" (Austin Chronicle). Vasquez was actually in the process of writing for a projected upcoming Delta Spirit project early last year when he began to think that it might be more appropriate to focus instead on his next solo effort. "I was imagining a new Delta Spirit album as I was writing," he says. "But I began to realize that's not exactly where I'm at right now. The band isn't broken up but it's not coming back right now. I started to feel like Rhett Miller, who had to go away from the Old 97s for a while so he could get tap into his creativity and come back to the band in a new and healthy way." To keep his path clear and work on his own terms, Vasquez built a studio in his home for this past year - a trailer parked about an hour west of Austin. Here, in Texas Hill Country, surrounded by evergreen oak trees, he wrote and recorded basic tracks and then brought in singer Kam Franklin from The Suffers and Shakey Graves drummer Christopher Booshada to add parts as needed. For backup vocals and string parts, he worked long-distance via sound files with the Parkington Sisters, who he performed with during a Middle Brother set at last year's Newport Folk Festival. "They performed a miracle, giving me a 3-D depth that makes the tracks they appear on jump out of the speakers," he insists. In final form, Does What He Wants is like a hall of mirrors, each capturing a different image of one self-aware and restlessly creative individual. The pure finger-picked acoustic guitar that sets up vivid stories on "The Informant" and "Tall Man," the retro textures of "Headed West" (which, Vasquez points out, were actually played on real strings by the Parkingtons), the lofting melody that evokes Roy Orbison ("the greatest singer in the history of singers," Vasquez opines), the waterfall of harmonies in "The Fighter" - This music is diverse yet unified, which of course was a priority for its author. And, in the end, it turns out to feel pretty optimistic after all - a perfect statement for these times and possibly for some time to come.

Matthew Logan Vasquez is feeling optimistic.

That's not necessarily apparent the first time you spin his new full-length solo album. Each track on Matthew Logan Does What He Wants feels urgent and intense. Impatient landlords, financial woes and other frustrations fan the agitation embedded in the opening track, "Same." Isolation darkens the brooding images of "From Behind The Glass." Death takes a bow on "The Fighter." Vasquez can't help but juxtapose the celebration of "Fatherhood" with a lament that "we ain't got the money to pay the hospital." The music enhances this impression. As fans of his work with Delta Spirit and Middle Brother know well, Vasquez knows how to fuse passion and poetry in his writing and then ignite this volatile mix with extraordinarily expressive singing. In this sense he stands as a peer and a worthy successor to those who influenced him as an up-and-coming artist - Neil Young, Kurt Cobain, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed and others often mentioned, none of them known for their upbeat, sunny lyrics. With the 2016 release Solicitor Returns. "That last record had a sarcastic, darker tone. The new one is just as hard-hitting and wide-ranging but with a more positive message." This becomes clearer when you replay Does What He Wants and listen more carefully. On the surface, "Tall Man" unfolds as a journey into self-destruction. But at the end, the subject of the story is repeating "I know I can change," each time with escalating emotion as brought to life in Vasquez's searing vocal. "Bad things happen in the song," he acknowledges. "But it all leads to an epiphany. And that is positive. The truth rarely comes to you in an easy way - not unless you're a wiser person than I am. "My point is that life is a struggle," Vasquez continues. "But how can you have optimism and hope if you don't have something negative? Context is what makes it meaningful." For Vasquez, context involves drawing from dramatically different settings. Growing up in Texas and along the California coast, hunkering down for years in Brooklyn as he finessed his music in a more pressurized urban context and then heading back to Austin to put all the pieces together, he took note of the differences and similarities these places offered. During much of that time he channeled his experiences into Delta Spirit, whose albums inspired critics to laud the band as "restless and defiant" (Paste), its music infused by "waves of measured ferocity" (Uncut) and "significant depth" (Austin Chronicle). Vasquez was actually in the process of writing for a projected upcoming Delta Spirit project early last year when he began to think that it might be more appropriate to focus instead on his next solo effort. "I was imagining a new Delta Spirit album as I was writing," he says. "But I began to realize that's not exactly where I'm at right now. The band isn't broken up but it's not coming back right now. I started to feel like Rhett Miller, who had to go away from the Old 97s for a while so he could get tap into his creativity and come back to the band in a new and healthy way." To keep his path clear and work on his own terms, Vasquez built a studio in his home for this past year - a trailer parked about an hour west of Austin. Here, in Texas Hill Country, surrounded by evergreen oak trees, he wrote and recorded basic tracks and then brought in singer Kam Franklin from The Suffers and Shakey Graves drummer Christopher Booshada to add parts as needed. For backup vocals and string parts, he worked long-distance via sound files with the Parkington Sisters, who he performed with during a Middle Brother set at last year's Newport Folk Festival. "They performed a miracle, giving me a 3-D depth that makes the tracks they appear on jump out of the speakers," he insists. In final form, Does What He Wants is like a hall of mirrors, each capturing a different image of one self-aware and restlessly creative individual. The pure finger-picked acoustic guitar that sets up vivid stories on "The Informant" and "Tall Man," the retro textures of "Headed West" (which, Vasquez points out, were actually played on real strings by the Parkingtons), the lofting melody that evokes Roy Orbison ("the greatest singer in the history of singers," Vasquez opines), the waterfall of harmonies in "The Fighter" - This music is diverse yet unified, which of course was a priority for its author. And, in the end, it turns out to feel pretty optimistic after all - a perfect statement for these times and possibly for some time to come.

(Early Show) Caitlin Canty

Caitlin Canty is an American singer/songwriter whose music carves a line through folk, blues, and country ballads. Her voice was called “casually devastating” by the San Francisco Chronicle and NPR Music describes her songs as having a “haunting urgency.”

Motel Bouquet, Canty’s third record, features ten original songs that hold her darkly radiant voice firmly in the spotlight. Produced by Grammy-nominated Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers) and recorded live over three days in Nashville, the album boasts a band of some of finest musicians in roots music, including fiddler Stuart Duncan and vocalist Aoife O’Donovan. Rolling Stone hails Motel Bouquet as “dreamy and daring” with “poetic lyrics and haunting melodies.”

Since the release of her critically-acclaimed Reckless Skyline in 2015, Canty has put thousands of miles on her songs, circling through the U.S. and Europe. She warmed up stages for The Milk Carton Kids and Gregory Alan Isakov and recorded with longtime collaborators Darlingside and with Down Like Silver, her duo with Peter Bradley Adams. She won the Troubadour songwriting competition at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and her song, “Get Up,” was nominated for Song of the Year in the Folk Alliance International Music Awards. Canty’s original recordings have recently appeared on CBS’s Code Black and on the Netflix original series House of Cards.

Raised in small-town Vermont, the daughter of a school teacher and a house painter, Canty earned her degree in biology in the Berkshires and subsequently moved to New York City. She spent her days in the city working as an environmental sustainability consultant and her nights making music at Lower East Side music halls and bars. In 2009, she quit her job and set out to make music full time. In 2015, she packed up her house plants and her 1939 Recording King guitar and drove to Nashville, TN, which she now calls home.

Caitlin Canty is an American singer/songwriter whose music carves a line through folk, blues, and country ballads. Her voice was called “casually devastating” by the San Francisco Chronicle and NPR Music describes her songs as having a “haunting urgency.”

Motel Bouquet, Canty’s third record, features ten original songs that hold her darkly radiant voice firmly in the spotlight. Produced by Grammy-nominated Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers) and recorded live over three days in Nashville, the album boasts a band of some of finest musicians in roots music, including fiddler Stuart Duncan and vocalist Aoife O’Donovan. Rolling Stone hails Motel Bouquet as “dreamy and daring” with “poetic lyrics and haunting melodies.”

Since the release of her critically-acclaimed Reckless Skyline in 2015, Canty has put thousands of miles on her songs, circling through the U.S. and Europe. She warmed up stages for The Milk Carton Kids and Gregory Alan Isakov and recorded with longtime collaborators Darlingside and with Down Like Silver, her duo with Peter Bradley Adams. She won the Troubadour songwriting competition at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and her song, “Get Up,” was nominated for Song of the Year in the Folk Alliance International Music Awards. Canty’s original recordings have recently appeared on CBS’s Code Black and on the Netflix original series House of Cards.

Raised in small-town Vermont, the daughter of a school teacher and a house painter, Canty earned her degree in biology in the Berkshires and subsequently moved to New York City. She spent her days in the city working as an environmental sustainability consultant and her nights making music at Lower East Side music halls and bars. In 2009, she quit her job and set out to make music full time. In 2015, she packed up her house plants and her 1939 Recording King guitar and drove to Nashville, TN, which she now calls home.

(Late Show) Danielle Nicole

For Immediate Release – "I'm definitely taking more chances now," Danielle Nicole says of Cry No More, her second solo album and the follow-up to her widely acclaimed 2015 solo debut Wolf Den. "I grew up playing the blues, and the blues is still a big part of what I do. But now I'm reaching out more and trying different things. It still sounds like me, but I'm stretching out a lot more than I have previously."

Indeed, while Wolf Den served as a powerful intro to the young singer-bassist-songwriter's funky, blues-steeped songcraft, Cry No More, set for release on February 23rd, 2018 via Concord Records, takes the artist into fresh new creative territory, delivering 14 emotion-charged new songs whose rootsy musical edge is matched by their air of hard-won personal experience.

Danielle Nicole's expansive approach yields deeply compelling musical results throughout Cry No More. With seasoned veteran Tony Braunagel (Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Burdon) producing, such heartfelt, groove-intensive new tunes as "Crawl," "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore," the Bill Withers-penned "Hot Spell" and the heart-tugging title track find Danielle cutting loose and focusing on the storytelling and character-development aspects of her songwriting.

"I wanted to open up more about myself, and I think it shows in the songs," Danielle asserts. "I thought really hard about the stories I wanted to tell in these songs. I really dug into my personal experience, and worked to be more open and expose more of myself than I have in the past.

"There's a song there about my father, 'Bobby,' who passed away a long time ago," she continues. "That was a big one for me, because I'd never gone there before. And I've had lots of changes going on in my life, so the title track, 'Cry No More,' is about moving on and letting go, and about getting over things and moving past them. There are a lot of songs on this album about moving on, although that wasn't a conscious direction. Every song is a different story, and every song has a purpose and a perspective."

While Danielle wrote or co-wrote nine of Cry No More's 14 songs, the seductive "Hot Spell" was given to Danielle by its author, long-retired R&B legend Bill Withers. Withers was a surprise visitor to the album's recording sessions at L.A.'s Ultratone Studios, and was so impressed with Danielle's singing that he dug into his archives and offered her the song, which he wrote back in the '70s, but which had gone unrecorded since then.

"Bill is one of my all-time musical heroes," Danielle notes. "We played him a couple of the songs we'd been working on, and he said 'Come on, let's go out to my car for a minute.' So we were hanging out in his SUV, and he's shuffling through his glovebox and he pulls out this disc and says 'I've got this song; it's a bit risqué, but if you don't mind, I'll play it for you.' It was this demo that he'd done, with his daughter doing the vocals. It was real moody and had a great groove, and it was Bill all the way. He told me that if I liked it, I was welcome to record it."

She didn't have to be told twice. "There was a section on the demo where Bill's scatting where the guitar solo would be. We asked him to do that on my version, but he's retired, so he respectfully declined to sing on it. So I sang the scat line and harmonized to it, in his honor. He dug it!"

Danielle enlisted an old friend, Braunagel, who also produced the last two albums by her old family band, Trampled Under Foot, to record the album. The pair's longstanding creative rapport is apparent throughout Cry No More, on which Braunagel co-wrote five songs with Danielle.

"I really wanted to work with Tony on this record, because I knew that he would get the best out of me," Danielle explains. "We've really developed a great working relationship and we write together really well, and I knew that Tony could help me develop these stories into songs.

"This whole record was like a dream come true," she adds. "I got to do the songs I wanted to do, work with the producer I wanted to work with, and record in the studio I wanted to record in. It was really cool how everything fell into place. All of the songs were what I wanted them to be, and all of the players were perfect for the songs. Every aspect of this album, from the birth of the songs to the mastering, was really free and organic."

In addition to Danielle on bass, producer Braunagel on drums and longtime Bonnie Raitt guitarist Johnnie Lee Schell (who also engineered the sessions), Cry No More features appearances by such notable guitarists as Kenny Wayne Shepherd (on "Save Me"), Luther Dickinson (on "Just Can't Keep From Crying"), Walter Trout (on "Burnin' for You"), Sonny Landreth (on "I'm Going Home"), Danielle's touring guitarist Brandon Miller (on "Baby Eyes"), and her brother and former bandmate Nick Schnebelen (on "Crawl").

The musical expertise and emotional depth of Cry No More reflect of a lifetime's worth of music-making. Born Danielle Nicole Schnebelen, Danielle comes from a long line of singers and musicians, and showed an affinity for singing almost from birth. Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, she performed in public for the first time at the age of 12, singing Koko Taylor's "Never Trust a Man" as part of a Blues for Schools program at her elementary school. In her early teens, she began singing in local coffeehouses and at open mic events, often jamming with her parents at clubs that would allow minors. At 16, she became lead singer in her father's band, Little Eva and the Works. In 1999, she started her own band, Fresh Brew, with some older local musicians. Fresh Brew performed for four years and represented Kansas City in the prestigious International Blues Challenge.

It was during this time that Danielle and her brothers Nick and Kris launched a family band, Trampled Under Foot, relocating to Philadelphia in the process. To maintain the family concept, Danielle learned to play bass, eventually mastering the instrument. Trampled Under Foot traveled the world and recorded several self-released albums, building a sizable national fan base through years of nonstop roadwork. For their 2013 album Badlands, produced by Braunagel, Trampled Under Foot moved to the Telarc label, a division of Concord Music Group. Badlands debuted at #1 on Billboard's Blues Chart.

As Trampled Under Foot wound down after an eventful 13-year run, Danielle formed her own band and signed with Concord Records, releasing a self-titled EP and the Anders Osborne-produced album Wolf Den in 2015. Those releases established Danielle as a formidable solo artist and bandleader.

"I learned a lot from the last album," Danielle states. "It was the first time I was writing and recording and choosing all of the material on my own, which was a big thing for me. I had been in a band with my brothers for 13 years, but it's a whole different thing when it's your name that's on the line. That aspect feels a lot more comfortable now, and I can make decisions without worrying about what everybody else will think."

Nicole's distinctive, inventive bass work—which resulted in her becoming the first woman to win the Blues Foundation's 2014 Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist, Bass—is the product of years of intensive roadwork. Although she had no experience with the instrument when she became Trampled Under Foot's bassist, now she can't imagine life without it.

"Playing the bass definitely influences the way I sing, the way I write and the way I approach music," she says. "As I've progressed more, the bass lines have been getting a lot more intricate. It's still a challenge to sing while playing bass, because it's very rare that the bass line and the vocal go together. I still get tripped up sometimes, but at this point I'd never give up the bass.

"When I started doing my solo thing," she continues, "someone asked me if I was gonna hire a bass player. No, of course not! I originally picked up the bass to keep Trampled Under Foot a family band, but I really fell in love with it. It was a huge challenge, and it still is. But I really love being part of the groove and getting to sing on top of that. I had learned some stuff on acoustic guitar before I started playing bass, but I never really felt connected to it the way I do with the bass. It's empowering, walking onto a stage full of grown men who can play their asses off, and it's 'OK, I'm gonna play this bass, we're gonna do this, and it's gonna rock.'"

With Cry No More marking a substantial creative step forward, Danielle Nicole is ready to reap her musical destiny.

"I think that it's a good time for the kind of thing I'm doing," she states. "From my years of playing blues festivals, I've seen that younger and younger audiences are getting into the blues. I think that people want to hear authentic music again."

For Immediate Release – "I'm definitely taking more chances now," Danielle Nicole says of Cry No More, her second solo album and the follow-up to her widely acclaimed 2015 solo debut Wolf Den. "I grew up playing the blues, and the blues is still a big part of what I do. But now I'm reaching out more and trying different things. It still sounds like me, but I'm stretching out a lot more than I have previously."

Indeed, while Wolf Den served as a powerful intro to the young singer-bassist-songwriter's funky, blues-steeped songcraft, Cry No More, set for release on February 23rd, 2018 via Concord Records, takes the artist into fresh new creative territory, delivering 14 emotion-charged new songs whose rootsy musical edge is matched by their air of hard-won personal experience.

Danielle Nicole's expansive approach yields deeply compelling musical results throughout Cry No More. With seasoned veteran Tony Braunagel (Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Burdon) producing, such heartfelt, groove-intensive new tunes as "Crawl," "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore," the Bill Withers-penned "Hot Spell" and the heart-tugging title track find Danielle cutting loose and focusing on the storytelling and character-development aspects of her songwriting.

"I wanted to open up more about myself, and I think it shows in the songs," Danielle asserts. "I thought really hard about the stories I wanted to tell in these songs. I really dug into my personal experience, and worked to be more open and expose more of myself than I have in the past.

"There's a song there about my father, 'Bobby,' who passed away a long time ago," she continues. "That was a big one for me, because I'd never gone there before. And I've had lots of changes going on in my life, so the title track, 'Cry No More,' is about moving on and letting go, and about getting over things and moving past them. There are a lot of songs on this album about moving on, although that wasn't a conscious direction. Every song is a different story, and every song has a purpose and a perspective."

While Danielle wrote or co-wrote nine of Cry No More's 14 songs, the seductive "Hot Spell" was given to Danielle by its author, long-retired R&B legend Bill Withers. Withers was a surprise visitor to the album's recording sessions at L.A.'s Ultratone Studios, and was so impressed with Danielle's singing that he dug into his archives and offered her the song, which he wrote back in the '70s, but which had gone unrecorded since then.

"Bill is one of my all-time musical heroes," Danielle notes. "We played him a couple of the songs we'd been working on, and he said 'Come on, let's go out to my car for a minute.' So we were hanging out in his SUV, and he's shuffling through his glovebox and he pulls out this disc and says 'I've got this song; it's a bit risqué, but if you don't mind, I'll play it for you.' It was this demo that he'd done, with his daughter doing the vocals. It was real moody and had a great groove, and it was Bill all the way. He told me that if I liked it, I was welcome to record it."

She didn't have to be told twice. "There was a section on the demo where Bill's scatting where the guitar solo would be. We asked him to do that on my version, but he's retired, so he respectfully declined to sing on it. So I sang the scat line and harmonized to it, in his honor. He dug it!"

Danielle enlisted an old friend, Braunagel, who also produced the last two albums by her old family band, Trampled Under Foot, to record the album. The pair's longstanding creative rapport is apparent throughout Cry No More, on which Braunagel co-wrote five songs with Danielle.

"I really wanted to work with Tony on this record, because I knew that he would get the best out of me," Danielle explains. "We've really developed a great working relationship and we write together really well, and I knew that Tony could help me develop these stories into songs.

"This whole record was like a dream come true," she adds. "I got to do the songs I wanted to do, work with the producer I wanted to work with, and record in the studio I wanted to record in. It was really cool how everything fell into place. All of the songs were what I wanted them to be, and all of the players were perfect for the songs. Every aspect of this album, from the birth of the songs to the mastering, was really free and organic."

In addition to Danielle on bass, producer Braunagel on drums and longtime Bonnie Raitt guitarist Johnnie Lee Schell (who also engineered the sessions), Cry No More features appearances by such notable guitarists as Kenny Wayne Shepherd (on "Save Me"), Luther Dickinson (on "Just Can't Keep From Crying"), Walter Trout (on "Burnin' for You"), Sonny Landreth (on "I'm Going Home"), Danielle's touring guitarist Brandon Miller (on "Baby Eyes"), and her brother and former bandmate Nick Schnebelen (on "Crawl").

The musical expertise and emotional depth of Cry No More reflect of a lifetime's worth of music-making. Born Danielle Nicole Schnebelen, Danielle comes from a long line of singers and musicians, and showed an affinity for singing almost from birth. Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, she performed in public for the first time at the age of 12, singing Koko Taylor's "Never Trust a Man" as part of a Blues for Schools program at her elementary school. In her early teens, she began singing in local coffeehouses and at open mic events, often jamming with her parents at clubs that would allow minors. At 16, she became lead singer in her father's band, Little Eva and the Works. In 1999, she started her own band, Fresh Brew, with some older local musicians. Fresh Brew performed for four years and represented Kansas City in the prestigious International Blues Challenge.

It was during this time that Danielle and her brothers Nick and Kris launched a family band, Trampled Under Foot, relocating to Philadelphia in the process. To maintain the family concept, Danielle learned to play bass, eventually mastering the instrument. Trampled Under Foot traveled the world and recorded several self-released albums, building a sizable national fan base through years of nonstop roadwork. For their 2013 album Badlands, produced by Braunagel, Trampled Under Foot moved to the Telarc label, a division of Concord Music Group. Badlands debuted at #1 on Billboard's Blues Chart.

As Trampled Under Foot wound down after an eventful 13-year run, Danielle formed her own band and signed with Concord Records, releasing a self-titled EP and the Anders Osborne-produced album Wolf Den in 2015. Those releases established Danielle as a formidable solo artist and bandleader.

"I learned a lot from the last album," Danielle states. "It was the first time I was writing and recording and choosing all of the material on my own, which was a big thing for me. I had been in a band with my brothers for 13 years, but it's a whole different thing when it's your name that's on the line. That aspect feels a lot more comfortable now, and I can make decisions without worrying about what everybody else will think."

Nicole's distinctive, inventive bass work—which resulted in her becoming the first woman to win the Blues Foundation's 2014 Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist, Bass—is the product of years of intensive roadwork. Although she had no experience with the instrument when she became Trampled Under Foot's bassist, now she can't imagine life without it.

"Playing the bass definitely influences the way I sing, the way I write and the way I approach music," she says. "As I've progressed more, the bass lines have been getting a lot more intricate. It's still a challenge to sing while playing bass, because it's very rare that the bass line and the vocal go together. I still get tripped up sometimes, but at this point I'd never give up the bass.

"When I started doing my solo thing," she continues, "someone asked me if I was gonna hire a bass player. No, of course not! I originally picked up the bass to keep Trampled Under Foot a family band, but I really fell in love with it. It was a huge challenge, and it still is. But I really love being part of the groove and getting to sing on top of that. I had learned some stuff on acoustic guitar before I started playing bass, but I never really felt connected to it the way I do with the bass. It's empowering, walking onto a stage full of grown men who can play their asses off, and it's 'OK, I'm gonna play this bass, we're gonna do this, and it's gonna rock.'"

With Cry No More marking a substantial creative step forward, Danielle Nicole is ready to reap her musical destiny.

"I think that it's a good time for the kind of thing I'm doing," she states. "From my years of playing blues festivals, I've seen that younger and younger audiences are getting into the blues. I think that people want to hear authentic music again."

Suuns with Special Guest Facs

"This record is definitely looser than our last one," says Suuns singer/guitarist Ben Shemie. "It's not as clinical. There's more swagger."
You can hear this freedom flowing through the 11 tracks on Felt, from Look No Further's dramatically loping, surrender-to-the-soil skeletal rock - "Our minimalist overture," notes Shemie - to the climactic bleep 'n' bliss-out of pocket symphony Materials, which finds his vocoder-treated voice floating deliriously amid cavernous inner space. It's both a continuation and rebirth, the Montreal quartet returning to beloved local facility Breakglass Studios (where they cut their first two albums with Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes) but this time recording themselves at their own pace, over five fertile sessions spanning several months. A simultaneous stretching out and honing in, mixed to audiophile perfection by St Vincent producer John Congleton (helmer of Suuns' previous full-length Hold/Still), who flew up especially from Dallas to deploy his award-winning skills in situ.

While maintaining a pleasing economy - the closest thing to a ‘jam' here is an otherworldly two-minute instrumental, aptly titled Moonbeams - the informality of self-production has enabled Suuns to explore bright new vistas. "It was different and exciting," declares drummer Liam O'Neill. "In the past there was a more concerted effort on my part to drum in a controlled and genre-specific way. Self-consciously approaching things stylistically. Us doing it ourselves, that process was like a very receptive, limitless workshop to just try out ideas."

Hence the hypnotic future-pop percolations of X-ALT, where guitarist Joseph Yarmush's delicate precision is engulfed by squalls of giddy saxophone. Or the way Watch You, Watch Me's organic/synthetic rush builds and and builds atop O'Neill's elevatory rhythm and the ecstatic, Harmonia-meets-Game Boy patterns unleashed by electronics mastermind Max Henry. As befits a band who cite Andy Stott and My Bloody Valentine as touchstones yet don't sound like either, Suuns have always seamlessly blended the programmed and played. Never mere fusionists, it's now pointless trying to decode their sonic signature as ‘dance music that rocks' or vice versa.

Eschewing presets, Henry devised fresh sounds for each song while also becoming a default musical director, orchestrating patches and oscillations. Quietly enthusing about "freaky post-techno" and Frank Ocean's use of space, he's among your more modest studio desk jockeys: "Yeah, I sat in the control room while the others played - hitting ‘record' and ‘stop'. It also gave me the flexibility to move parts around and play with effects. I do have a sweet tooth for pop music. So if there's a more straightforward option on the table, I tend to push for it. Of course, interesting pop music isn't always about being straightforward, so it's a good thing I don't always get my way."

Said sweetness is amplified by Ben Shemie's newfound vocal range and buoyant melodies, showcased in such wholly unexpected delights as the yearning lilt of Make It Real and sax-smoothed Peace And Love, which sincerely comes on like a post-punk Sade. There's a previously unheard confidence to the singer and lyricist, perhaps best exemplified by centre-piece Control, where his hushed tones are complemented by a bilingual voice musing on dreams and reality, sampled from an old Montreal social art project.

"The sample of that man speaking has a serendipitous story behind it. It's a bit of audio I copied from a series of interviews of people living on the streets of Montreal called The Dream Listener. It was recorded by an artist 10 years ago at the St-James Drop-In Center to raise money for the clinic and asked them to talk about their dreams. I always thought it was a compelling sample, but didn't realize until after we used it that the man in the recording was a family friend, a respected poet, whose struggled with mental illness. It makes the song the true centre piece of the album."

Suuns are proud of their roots in Canada's most socialist province, whilst not sounding quite like anything else the city has produced. "Conditions are great for musicians, but not so much if you want to be a high powered investment banker," laughs Ben. "If I could compare Montreal to anywhere I'd say it's kind of like Berlin, in the sense that there isn't a huge industry, so there isn't that much money. Plus you have to speak French if you want a career, so that stops too many people moving here. It's gentrifying at a slower rate than other cities."

Quebecois natives Shemie and Yarmush founded the group just over a decade ago, the latter having moved to Montreal from a nearby village: "Ben's from the city but I grew up in the mountains - in the forest with nothing!" The only member not to be formally schooled in jazz, guitarist Yarmush studied photography and utilized his visual training to help realize Shemie's novel concept for the eye-catching album artwork.

"I was at a barbecue last summer and there were balloons everywhere," recalls the singer. "I like this idea of pressure, resistance, and pushing against something just before it brakes. And there is something strangely subversive about a finger pushing into a balloon. It seemed to fit the vibe of the record we were making. We made plaster casts of our hands, going for a non-denominational statue vibe. Joe came up with the colour scheme, the sickly green background, and shot the whole cover in an hour."

It's a suitably outré image for Felt, which breaks with Suuns' earlier darkness for a more optimistic ambience. The record's playful atmosphere is echoed by its double meaning title. "Some people might think of the material," muses Ben. "I like that that could be misconstrued. Also it's to have felt and not to feel - a little introspective, but that feeling's in the past."

"This record is definitely looser than our last one," says Suuns singer/guitarist Ben Shemie. "It's not as clinical. There's more swagger."
You can hear this freedom flowing through the 11 tracks on Felt, from Look No Further's dramatically loping, surrender-to-the-soil skeletal rock - "Our minimalist overture," notes Shemie - to the climactic bleep 'n' bliss-out of pocket symphony Materials, which finds his vocoder-treated voice floating deliriously amid cavernous inner space. It's both a continuation and rebirth, the Montreal quartet returning to beloved local facility Breakglass Studios (where they cut their first two albums with Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes) but this time recording themselves at their own pace, over five fertile sessions spanning several months. A simultaneous stretching out and honing in, mixed to audiophile perfection by St Vincent producer John Congleton (helmer of Suuns' previous full-length Hold/Still), who flew up especially from Dallas to deploy his award-winning skills in situ.

While maintaining a pleasing economy - the closest thing to a ‘jam' here is an otherworldly two-minute instrumental, aptly titled Moonbeams - the informality of self-production has enabled Suuns to explore bright new vistas. "It was different and exciting," declares drummer Liam O'Neill. "In the past there was a more concerted effort on my part to drum in a controlled and genre-specific way. Self-consciously approaching things stylistically. Us doing it ourselves, that process was like a very receptive, limitless workshop to just try out ideas."

Hence the hypnotic future-pop percolations of X-ALT, where guitarist Joseph Yarmush's delicate precision is engulfed by squalls of giddy saxophone. Or the way Watch You, Watch Me's organic/synthetic rush builds and and builds atop O'Neill's elevatory rhythm and the ecstatic, Harmonia-meets-Game Boy patterns unleashed by electronics mastermind Max Henry. As befits a band who cite Andy Stott and My Bloody Valentine as touchstones yet don't sound like either, Suuns have always seamlessly blended the programmed and played. Never mere fusionists, it's now pointless trying to decode their sonic signature as ‘dance music that rocks' or vice versa.

Eschewing presets, Henry devised fresh sounds for each song while also becoming a default musical director, orchestrating patches and oscillations. Quietly enthusing about "freaky post-techno" and Frank Ocean's use of space, he's among your more modest studio desk jockeys: "Yeah, I sat in the control room while the others played - hitting ‘record' and ‘stop'. It also gave me the flexibility to move parts around and play with effects. I do have a sweet tooth for pop music. So if there's a more straightforward option on the table, I tend to push for it. Of course, interesting pop music isn't always about being straightforward, so it's a good thing I don't always get my way."

Said sweetness is amplified by Ben Shemie's newfound vocal range and buoyant melodies, showcased in such wholly unexpected delights as the yearning lilt of Make It Real and sax-smoothed Peace And Love, which sincerely comes on like a post-punk Sade. There's a previously unheard confidence to the singer and lyricist, perhaps best exemplified by centre-piece Control, where his hushed tones are complemented by a bilingual voice musing on dreams and reality, sampled from an old Montreal social art project.

"The sample of that man speaking has a serendipitous story behind it. It's a bit of audio I copied from a series of interviews of people living on the streets of Montreal called The Dream Listener. It was recorded by an artist 10 years ago at the St-James Drop-In Center to raise money for the clinic and asked them to talk about their dreams. I always thought it was a compelling sample, but didn't realize until after we used it that the man in the recording was a family friend, a respected poet, whose struggled with mental illness. It makes the song the true centre piece of the album."

Suuns are proud of their roots in Canada's most socialist province, whilst not sounding quite like anything else the city has produced. "Conditions are great for musicians, but not so much if you want to be a high powered investment banker," laughs Ben. "If I could compare Montreal to anywhere I'd say it's kind of like Berlin, in the sense that there isn't a huge industry, so there isn't that much money. Plus you have to speak French if you want a career, so that stops too many people moving here. It's gentrifying at a slower rate than other cities."

Quebecois natives Shemie and Yarmush founded the group just over a decade ago, the latter having moved to Montreal from a nearby village: "Ben's from the city but I grew up in the mountains - in the forest with nothing!" The only member not to be formally schooled in jazz, guitarist Yarmush studied photography and utilized his visual training to help realize Shemie's novel concept for the eye-catching album artwork.

"I was at a barbecue last summer and there were balloons everywhere," recalls the singer. "I like this idea of pressure, resistance, and pushing against something just before it brakes. And there is something strangely subversive about a finger pushing into a balloon. It seemed to fit the vibe of the record we were making. We made plaster casts of our hands, going for a non-denominational statue vibe. Joe came up with the colour scheme, the sickly green background, and shot the whole cover in an hour."

It's a suitably outré image for Felt, which breaks with Suuns' earlier darkness for a more optimistic ambience. The record's playful atmosphere is echoed by its double meaning title. "Some people might think of the material," muses Ben. "I like that that could be misconstrued. Also it's to have felt and not to feel - a little introspective, but that feeling's in the past."

Bruno Major

There's nothing like a deadline to focus the mind. Last year, Bruno Major set himself a task: to record and release one song a month for 12 months. Four weeks to take a song from an idea in his head to a finished product and have it out there for people to listen to and enjoy, every month, for a year. People had made albums in less time, he reasoned, how hard could it be?

"When I first said that I was going to do it most people said, ‘Nice one…that's never going to happen.'" Major recalls with a laugh. "A lot of people thought it was overly aspirational: it probably was."

What's impressive is not so much that he managed to pull it off, more that the challenge produced such a remarkable collection of songs. That within the time frame of a month, Major could produce such fully-realised, beautiful and inventive songs and then repeat the trick the following month, twelve times over.

"With a traditional album, there exists the concept of an album track...I haven't had that luxury because once a month I have to release a song and every song has to be a single. There's no room for a piano interlude. Each one had to be something that I could stand behind and say: ‘Hey, this is my next single, it's coming out, I've worked on it all month, I hope you like it.' It forced me to make sure the standard was at a certain level."

Not only did every song hit its mark, but listening to the fruits of Major's labour in the order he created them, you're given an experience that doesn't really have a precedent in music. Tracing a line from the blissful future soul and skittering beats of Wouldn't Mean A Thing through Home's delicate folk to Cold Blood's pulsating electronica, you're treated to a dozen snapshots of an artist at a specific moment in time. You can hear him grow, develop and move through the different emotional states of a year in a way that a traditional album simply wouldn't be able to offer. You can hear how he moved from the minimalism and sub bass warmth of There's Little Left to the jazz-flecked finger picking and layered harmonies of Second Time in just a few weeks and how the latter's dreamlike infatuation slowly faded into the bittersweet kiss-off of Fair-Weather Friend like the changing of the seasons.

"Albums are generally recorded within a smaller time frame and that helps lend them an identity as a whole and gives the tracks a feeling that they're siblings sonically," Major notes. "The big challenge for me has been to make sure there's a link through all of these songs because I've changed as a musician over the year. Listening to 'Wouldn't Mean A Thing' now, I think the sound I have developed with my co producer Phairo has become more developed. If I were to redo the whole thing now, there are elements of every song I would change, but that's part of the charm of them. I like that there's a little journey."

Having initially worked as a session guitarist, Major moved down from Northampton to London and, inspired by the energy of the city, became obsessed with songwriting. Honing his craft writing for other artists while all the time formulating his own musical style; an impossible to pigeonhole blend of sounds that can draw upon anything from James Blake and D'Angelo to Chet Baker and Nick Drake to create its own, uniquely intoxicating aura. It wasn't until a chance psychoactive revelation last year, however, that he struck upon the idea that would give him the perfect means to realise it.

"Whilst I was in Los Angeles I smoked DMT and had this mad epiphany where I saw how the universe works in perfect geometric patterns and synchronised cycles. I wanted to release a song every month, because that's the length of cycle of the moon," he recalls.

By his own admission, Major may have underestimated the task. A song like the Just The Same's touchingly devoted piano pop may have fallen into place one evening in all of 20 minutes, recorded the following day and then sent off to be mastered, but elsewhere there were weeks of fraught panic, scrapped ideas, stumbling blocks, pressure and looming deadlines where having a life outside of the challenge he'd set himself was a distant memory.

"It's definitely been tough, but it's also been wonderful," he reflects. "My life has been Groundhog Day for a year. I'd finish each month with a show and have a couple of nights of partying and then I'd start the next tune, work towards that, release it, over and over. It's been kind of comforting. In a way, I'm not looking forward to that ending."

He's probably earned a few days off to be fair. While he does, the rest of us can sit back and enjoy the music the last year of Bruno Major's life has produced.

There's nothing like a deadline to focus the mind. Last year, Bruno Major set himself a task: to record and release one song a month for 12 months. Four weeks to take a song from an idea in his head to a finished product and have it out there for people to listen to and enjoy, every month, for a year. People had made albums in less time, he reasoned, how hard could it be?

"When I first said that I was going to do it most people said, ‘Nice one…that's never going to happen.'" Major recalls with a laugh. "A lot of people thought it was overly aspirational: it probably was."

What's impressive is not so much that he managed to pull it off, more that the challenge produced such a remarkable collection of songs. That within the time frame of a month, Major could produce such fully-realised, beautiful and inventive songs and then repeat the trick the following month, twelve times over.

"With a traditional album, there exists the concept of an album track...I haven't had that luxury because once a month I have to release a song and every song has to be a single. There's no room for a piano interlude. Each one had to be something that I could stand behind and say: ‘Hey, this is my next single, it's coming out, I've worked on it all month, I hope you like it.' It forced me to make sure the standard was at a certain level."

Not only did every song hit its mark, but listening to the fruits of Major's labour in the order he created them, you're given an experience that doesn't really have a precedent in music. Tracing a line from the blissful future soul and skittering beats of Wouldn't Mean A Thing through Home's delicate folk to Cold Blood's pulsating electronica, you're treated to a dozen snapshots of an artist at a specific moment in time. You can hear him grow, develop and move through the different emotional states of a year in a way that a traditional album simply wouldn't be able to offer. You can hear how he moved from the minimalism and sub bass warmth of There's Little Left to the jazz-flecked finger picking and layered harmonies of Second Time in just a few weeks and how the latter's dreamlike infatuation slowly faded into the bittersweet kiss-off of Fair-Weather Friend like the changing of the seasons.

"Albums are generally recorded within a smaller time frame and that helps lend them an identity as a whole and gives the tracks a feeling that they're siblings sonically," Major notes. "The big challenge for me has been to make sure there's a link through all of these songs because I've changed as a musician over the year. Listening to 'Wouldn't Mean A Thing' now, I think the sound I have developed with my co producer Phairo has become more developed. If I were to redo the whole thing now, there are elements of every song I would change, but that's part of the charm of them. I like that there's a little journey."

Having initially worked as a session guitarist, Major moved down from Northampton to London and, inspired by the energy of the city, became obsessed with songwriting. Honing his craft writing for other artists while all the time formulating his own musical style; an impossible to pigeonhole blend of sounds that can draw upon anything from James Blake and D'Angelo to Chet Baker and Nick Drake to create its own, uniquely intoxicating aura. It wasn't until a chance psychoactive revelation last year, however, that he struck upon the idea that would give him the perfect means to realise it.

"Whilst I was in Los Angeles I smoked DMT and had this mad epiphany where I saw how the universe works in perfect geometric patterns and synchronised cycles. I wanted to release a song every month, because that's the length of cycle of the moon," he recalls.

By his own admission, Major may have underestimated the task. A song like the Just The Same's touchingly devoted piano pop may have fallen into place one evening in all of 20 minutes, recorded the following day and then sent off to be mastered, but elsewhere there were weeks of fraught panic, scrapped ideas, stumbling blocks, pressure and looming deadlines where having a life outside of the challenge he'd set himself was a distant memory.

"It's definitely been tough, but it's also been wonderful," he reflects. "My life has been Groundhog Day for a year. I'd finish each month with a show and have a couple of nights of partying and then I'd start the next tune, work towards that, release it, over and over. It's been kind of comforting. In a way, I'm not looking forward to that ending."

He's probably earned a few days off to be fair. While he does, the rest of us can sit back and enjoy the music the last year of Bruno Major's life has produced.

(Late Show) Opus One Comedy Presents Zach Miller and the Pump Slam Mafia Featuring Karl Prohaska, Terry Jones, Matt Light, and Guests

Bangin in the game since '03, Zach has found himself in 2018, host/booker of over 2500 stand up shows in 7 years, Host/Producer of the cult smash webseries Burn Booth, Host/Producer of the Stand up series Sex, Drugs & Jokes AND still finds time to handle biz with wifey from time to time.


Back home for rare Pittsburgh shows, Zach will host an event of non stop laughs Start to Finish!

Bring extra Undies.

Bangin in the game since '03, Zach has found himself in 2018, host/booker of over 2500 stand up shows in 7 years, Host/Producer of the cult smash webseries Burn Booth, Host/Producer of the Stand up series Sex, Drugs & Jokes AND still finds time to handle biz with wifey from time to time.


Back home for rare Pittsburgh shows, Zach will host an event of non stop laughs Start to Finish!

Bring extra Undies.

@clubcafelive

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