club cafe

pittsburgh, pa
Low Cut Connie with Special Guest Yawpers- Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP

Low Cut Connie was recently called “the essence of what rock n roll should be” by Greg Kot (Sound Opinions / NPR)..and the New York Times has said “their live show is a phenomenon.” They have been a rolling DIY caravan with an explosive live act bubbling under the surface of the music industry for 5 years, building an obsessive fanbase from all walks of life...white and black, straight and gay, young and old...salty lunatics of every persuasion. Even former President Barack Obama is a fan. He chose their anthem of low-brow American life “Boozophilia” for his Spotify Playlist and met with Weiner at the White House in 2016.

But with Dirty Pictures (part 1), Low Cut Connie moves beyond the drunken bar boogie they have become associated with into a deeper, darker, dirtier American life.

“We’ve been thought of as a great party band by so many people, and we wear that as a badge of honor, but I really wanted to go deeper with this record.” Weiner said recently. “We’ve been travelling this country now for a number of years, meeting people of all stripes, entertaining them in their bars and sleeping on their couches, laughing hard, holding them tight and sweating it out with them...I wrote this record really thinking about how people are feeling and living in this country these days. It’s a wild scene out there.”

And what is it that best brings Americans together in such wild and dirty times? Weiner has a simple answer: “Rock n roll. Nothing moves people more...it’ll make the most unsuspecting citizen hot, horny, angry, weepy and emotional and ultimately open to life like never before. I’ve seen it happen. That’s what we do. We change the molecules in the room.”

Whether they succeed or not, Low Cut Connie always attempts to make us feel something real, something very raw. With Dirty Pictures (part 1), this little rock n roll band from Philadelphia attempts to undress America, laughing and crying real tears with us all night long.

Low Cut Connie was recently called “the essence of what rock n roll should be” by Greg Kot (Sound Opinions / NPR)..and the New York Times has said “their live show is a phenomenon.” They have been a rolling DIY caravan with an explosive live act bubbling under the surface of the music industry for 5 years, building an obsessive fanbase from all walks of life...white and black, straight and gay, young and old...salty lunatics of every persuasion. Even former President Barack Obama is a fan. He chose their anthem of low-brow American life “Boozophilia” for his Spotify Playlist and met with Weiner at the White House in 2016.

But with Dirty Pictures (part 1), Low Cut Connie moves beyond the drunken bar boogie they have become associated with into a deeper, darker, dirtier American life.

“We’ve been thought of as a great party band by so many people, and we wear that as a badge of honor, but I really wanted to go deeper with this record.” Weiner said recently. “We’ve been travelling this country now for a number of years, meeting people of all stripes, entertaining them in their bars and sleeping on their couches, laughing hard, holding them tight and sweating it out with them...I wrote this record really thinking about how people are feeling and living in this country these days. It’s a wild scene out there.”

And what is it that best brings Americans together in such wild and dirty times? Weiner has a simple answer: “Rock n roll. Nothing moves people more...it’ll make the most unsuspecting citizen hot, horny, angry, weepy and emotional and ultimately open to life like never before. I’ve seen it happen. That’s what we do. We change the molecules in the room.”

Whether they succeed or not, Low Cut Connie always attempts to make us feel something real, something very raw. With Dirty Pictures (part 1), this little rock n roll band from Philadelphia attempts to undress America, laughing and crying real tears with us all night long.

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

Will Kimbrough (producer) 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Kimbrough (producer) 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Kimbrough (producer) 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Kimbrough (producer) 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slaid Cleaves

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Humming House with Special Guest Becca Mancari

Turning on the radio, computer, or television can seem like a gamble, at best. Each new tuning offers a deluge of anxieties to greet us. In the face of this 21st century tumult, Humming House is on a quest. They do not want to wish away the pain and fear all too real in our lives, but to put those elements in conversation with the elements that sustain us: hope, partnership, even joy. And so, their newest album begins with Tam's unmistakable voice intoning, "I want to be your companion." It's an appropriate beginning for a band who has built itself on complex musicianship and careful collaboration. They know the value of hard work and compromise. Their music is evidence of the thrill of creativity.

Humming House is Justin Wade Tam, Bobby Chase, Joshua Wolak, and Benjamin Jones. The band formed organically out of jam sessions that Tam held in his living room in East Nashville-evidence that some of the best projects come from spontaneous collaboration and the subsequent seeing it through. Now, three albums and six years later, Humming House continues to embody what is best about the Nashville each transplant chooses to call home.

What Humming House does so well is paint sonic landscapes that are at once compelling and honest, even in the most rollicking of songs. Revelries, Humming House's second full-length album released in 2015, was largely influenced by the band's history of touring. Its songs revealed the power and revelations that come from travel. Companion, to be released by Soundly on the 6th of October 2017, continues to pursue that which transforms. In part, it is still movement, movement that comes easily to the body as well as movement driven by the unease we daily brush up against. What's most powerful about Humming House is their ability to be present with you, to take those moments in life that seem mundane and shift the lens so that they are rendered extraordinary. Theirs is a music of presence.

Humming House maintains that sense of intimacy that derives from making music with friends altogether in the same room. It is fun combined with substance. With Tam's sincerity, Jones' groove, and Chase and Wolak's charm, their live shows extend the invitation to participate. As Dustin Ogdin observes in No Depression, "Humming House exudes restraint and a wily intelligence. They never pander to their crowd, but do respect them. They also seem to understand that the best music comes from an exchange between artist and audience rather than simply one giving and the other receiving."

These essential traits of Humming House are evident in Companion. The story of the album mirrors the story of the band: it's one of collaboration, experimentation, and showing up for each other over and again. There are songs of hope and of desperation so that the prevailing mood is one of exchange and balance. In the spirit of experimentation, the band threw out the constraining rule that they would only write with acoustic instruments. While those sounds still center the creative impulses of the songs, the added electric experimentation and expanded instrumentation imbue the new songs with a dynamism that is irresistible. Tam notes that the "extremes of the record in emotion are wider on this album. There's more desperation, but there's also fun and an upbeat aspect that's more joyous." The first half of the album is infused with Indie Rock, especially in songs such as "Can't Stay Away," "Takin' Over," and "Make it Through." The influence of quirky 90s rock, a la Cake, is there too. "Takin' Over" adheres to the Humming House desire to move you and is emblematic of those moments in our lives where the rhythm of the things that we love: music, friends, family commandeer our bodies until we're compelled to move in joy.

"Sign Me Up" and "Companion" nod to Paul Simon, while "Silver Lining," "Find What Waits," and "London" gesture to Humming House's long engagement with classical composition and songwriter driven melodies so strong in the realm of Americana. The album isn't all hip swinging bravado; halfway through, "Silver Lining" will stop and compel you to attend to the broken things that shape us. "Make it Through" and "Hope in My Head" are prisms to transform difficult days into livable ones. "I Want It All" does justice to the nostalgia and influence of a favorite album, while "Sign Me Up" conveys the increasing distance between our digital, urban lives and the ecosystems that sustain us.

"Wishing Well" is a late album gem. It opens with the observation, "Be patient with the ones you love / because we're not here for long enough / to judge," and so the song is an invitation to come to terms with our collective humanity, a difficult enough feat in the current torrid climate of politics, environmental concerns, and general unease. Thankfully, Humming House is dedicated to honest songwriting, attending to the complex interactions that shape us, and is committed to being present with us in their albums and live shows. What choice do we have but to respond? Theirs is a music that places us.

Turning on the radio, computer, or television can seem like a gamble, at best. Each new tuning offers a deluge of anxieties to greet us. In the face of this 21st century tumult, Humming House is on a quest. They do not want to wish away the pain and fear all too real in our lives, but to put those elements in conversation with the elements that sustain us: hope, partnership, even joy. And so, their newest album begins with Tam's unmistakable voice intoning, "I want to be your companion." It's an appropriate beginning for a band who has built itself on complex musicianship and careful collaboration. They know the value of hard work and compromise. Their music is evidence of the thrill of creativity.

Humming House is Justin Wade Tam, Bobby Chase, Joshua Wolak, and Benjamin Jones. The band formed organically out of jam sessions that Tam held in his living room in East Nashville-evidence that some of the best projects come from spontaneous collaboration and the subsequent seeing it through. Now, three albums and six years later, Humming House continues to embody what is best about the Nashville each transplant chooses to call home.

What Humming House does so well is paint sonic landscapes that are at once compelling and honest, even in the most rollicking of songs. Revelries, Humming House's second full-length album released in 2015, was largely influenced by the band's history of touring. Its songs revealed the power and revelations that come from travel. Companion, to be released by Soundly on the 6th of October 2017, continues to pursue that which transforms. In part, it is still movement, movement that comes easily to the body as well as movement driven by the unease we daily brush up against. What's most powerful about Humming House is their ability to be present with you, to take those moments in life that seem mundane and shift the lens so that they are rendered extraordinary. Theirs is a music of presence.

Humming House maintains that sense of intimacy that derives from making music with friends altogether in the same room. It is fun combined with substance. With Tam's sincerity, Jones' groove, and Chase and Wolak's charm, their live shows extend the invitation to participate. As Dustin Ogdin observes in No Depression, "Humming House exudes restraint and a wily intelligence. They never pander to their crowd, but do respect them. They also seem to understand that the best music comes from an exchange between artist and audience rather than simply one giving and the other receiving."

These essential traits of Humming House are evident in Companion. The story of the album mirrors the story of the band: it's one of collaboration, experimentation, and showing up for each other over and again. There are songs of hope and of desperation so that the prevailing mood is one of exchange and balance. In the spirit of experimentation, the band threw out the constraining rule that they would only write with acoustic instruments. While those sounds still center the creative impulses of the songs, the added electric experimentation and expanded instrumentation imbue the new songs with a dynamism that is irresistible. Tam notes that the "extremes of the record in emotion are wider on this album. There's more desperation, but there's also fun and an upbeat aspect that's more joyous." The first half of the album is infused with Indie Rock, especially in songs such as "Can't Stay Away," "Takin' Over," and "Make it Through." The influence of quirky 90s rock, a la Cake, is there too. "Takin' Over" adheres to the Humming House desire to move you and is emblematic of those moments in our lives where the rhythm of the things that we love: music, friends, family commandeer our bodies until we're compelled to move in joy.

"Sign Me Up" and "Companion" nod to Paul Simon, while "Silver Lining," "Find What Waits," and "London" gesture to Humming House's long engagement with classical composition and songwriter driven melodies so strong in the realm of Americana. The album isn't all hip swinging bravado; halfway through, "Silver Lining" will stop and compel you to attend to the broken things that shape us. "Make it Through" and "Hope in My Head" are prisms to transform difficult days into livable ones. "I Want It All" does justice to the nostalgia and influence of a favorite album, while "Sign Me Up" conveys the increasing distance between our digital, urban lives and the ecosystems that sustain us.

"Wishing Well" is a late album gem. It opens with the observation, "Be patient with the ones you love / because we're not here for long enough / to judge," and so the song is an invitation to come to terms with our collective humanity, a difficult enough feat in the current torrid climate of politics, environmental concerns, and general unease. Thankfully, Humming House is dedicated to honest songwriting, attending to the complex interactions that shape us, and is committed to being present with us in their albums and live shows. What choice do we have but to respond? Theirs is a music that places us.

Crystal Bowersox

Crystal Bowersox, a northwest Ohio native currently calling Nashville home, has built her life around music. Crystal’s love for music developed at an early age from a need to find peace in a chaotic world. Through art and creation, Crystal was able to direct her energy and emotion, finding a way to mend a mind in turmoil. For her, music was always the most effective form of catharsis, and she would play for anyone, anywhere. In her own words, “my guitar was an appendage. I couldn’t live without it.”

Dead set on a career in music, Crystal moved to Chicago as a teenager, where she spent her days performing underground on subway platforms in between working odd jobs. While in the big city, she broadened her musical horizons and shared her talents with a variety of venues, ultimately auditioning for the ninth season of American Idol. Crystal’s time on the show proved to be well spent, as she immediately left the the soundstage for the recording studio. Since her introduction to the world through television, Crystal has released two LP’s, two EPs, and several singles. Additionally, she has used her talents to benefit several causes close to her heart, and has become an advocate and inspiration for people living with Type 1 Diabetes.

However, it is what’s in front of her, not what’s behind her, that will define Crystal’s personal and professional evolution. The accomplished singer-songwriter is set to release a new project – a live album, recorded at the Kitchen Sink Studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico, cleverly titled Alive. Not only is the title a play on words, representing the rawness of the tracks, but it pertains to the place where Crystal currently is in her life. That place is one of joy, fulfillment, and stability for Crystal and her eight year old son, Tony.

To create her newest project, Crystal called on her “chosen family” of musicians. The combination of keeping those she cherishes close to her and taking an honest look at life has resulted in the truest music she has released to date. Crystal has drawn on her various influences — across folk-pop, classic rock, soul, blues and country — to make the kind of music that resonates with her spirit. It is both tender and tough, rough yet polished, and it encompasses many genres without falling neatly into one category. As one of her songwriting partners describes it, Crystal has “a voice like dirt and diamonds.” Her music is intended to bring a positive message of love and light to the world – things that folks will be able to take with them on their own journey, so that they, too, can feel truly alive.

Similar to her beginnings, Crystal intends to make music that has healing power, but at this point, she sees far beyond her own troubles. Her live show is a safe space for concertgoers. Attend a Crystal Bowersox show, and you just might see a grown man cry and a child dance simultaneously. You’ll also likely get the chance to meet her personally; Crystal is typically the first one to arrive and the last one to leave the venue. Meeting with the fans and hearing their personal stories is something Crystal considers a blessing in her life.

By reliving her own painful moments in song, Crystal hopes to transcend that pain, lifting herself and her audience to a higher place. In the opening lines of “A Broken Wing” she sings, “I know there’s beauty in the burden / And even on my darkest day that sun will shine.” Crystal’s story is one of resilience and perseverance, and it’s evident in every note of her newest release, Alive.

Crystal Bowersox, a northwest Ohio native currently calling Nashville home, has built her life around music. Crystal’s love for music developed at an early age from a need to find peace in a chaotic world. Through art and creation, Crystal was able to direct her energy and emotion, finding a way to mend a mind in turmoil. For her, music was always the most effective form of catharsis, and she would play for anyone, anywhere. In her own words, “my guitar was an appendage. I couldn’t live without it.”

Dead set on a career in music, Crystal moved to Chicago as a teenager, where she spent her days performing underground on subway platforms in between working odd jobs. While in the big city, she broadened her musical horizons and shared her talents with a variety of venues, ultimately auditioning for the ninth season of American Idol. Crystal’s time on the show proved to be well spent, as she immediately left the the soundstage for the recording studio. Since her introduction to the world through television, Crystal has released two LP’s, two EPs, and several singles. Additionally, she has used her talents to benefit several causes close to her heart, and has become an advocate and inspiration for people living with Type 1 Diabetes.

However, it is what’s in front of her, not what’s behind her, that will define Crystal’s personal and professional evolution. The accomplished singer-songwriter is set to release a new project – a live album, recorded at the Kitchen Sink Studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico, cleverly titled Alive. Not only is the title a play on words, representing the rawness of the tracks, but it pertains to the place where Crystal currently is in her life. That place is one of joy, fulfillment, and stability for Crystal and her eight year old son, Tony.

To create her newest project, Crystal called on her “chosen family” of musicians. The combination of keeping those she cherishes close to her and taking an honest look at life has resulted in the truest music she has released to date. Crystal has drawn on her various influences — across folk-pop, classic rock, soul, blues and country — to make the kind of music that resonates with her spirit. It is both tender and tough, rough yet polished, and it encompasses many genres without falling neatly into one category. As one of her songwriting partners describes it, Crystal has “a voice like dirt and diamonds.” Her music is intended to bring a positive message of love and light to the world – things that folks will be able to take with them on their own journey, so that they, too, can feel truly alive.

Similar to her beginnings, Crystal intends to make music that has healing power, but at this point, she sees far beyond her own troubles. Her live show is a safe space for concertgoers. Attend a Crystal Bowersox show, and you just might see a grown man cry and a child dance simultaneously. You’ll also likely get the chance to meet her personally; Crystal is typically the first one to arrive and the last one to leave the venue. Meeting with the fans and hearing their personal stories is something Crystal considers a blessing in her life.

By reliving her own painful moments in song, Crystal hopes to transcend that pain, lifting herself and her audience to a higher place. In the opening lines of “A Broken Wing” she sings, “I know there’s beauty in the burden / And even on my darkest day that sun will shine.” Crystal’s story is one of resilience and perseverance, and it’s evident in every note of her newest release, Alive.

Shane Smith & The Saints

Play just the first 10 seconds of “The Mountain,” which opens Geronimo, the latest and most ambitious release from Shane Smith & The Saints. Robust a cappella, four-part harmonies set the stage for a saga of family tragedy, a young son’s revenge and a blaze burning eternally in a Pennsylvania mine. The vivid lyrics, powerful vocals and thumping four-beat drums throughout this song are reason enough for lovers of creative roots music to celebrate.

From their home base in Austin through performances across the country (17 states) and abroad (Ireland), these five gentlemen have not just stuck stubbornly to their musical and lyrical convictions. They’ve defied audience expectations by delivering incendiary shows, each one ignited by the band’s ability to unleash, feed from and feed back the energy of the crowd — in spite of the fact that they don’t fit easily into any musical category.

With Geronimo, they’ve dared themselves to exceed their own expectations.

Each song begins with Smith creating its “bones,” in the form of chords and lyrics. He then joins fiddler Bennett Brown, lead guitarist Tim Allen, bassist Chase Satterwhite and drummer Zach Stover to bring those bones to life. Aside from a bit of cello, some horns and a few keyboard parts, the band lays down each note on Geronimo. Their ability to bring songs to life has even earned them opportunities to record instrumental tracks for other artists.

Smith’s ability to draw images from everyday life into poetry goes back to his earliest days in Terrell, Texas, an hour east of Dallas.

“There was an old Catholic church right next to our house,” he recalls. “To this day, I remember those church bells ringing. In fact, I use that reference in a song from Geronimo called ‘Suzannah,’ which is about a guy who’s fighting a war and is thinking of his hometown — and he also remembers being raised with a church bell ringing on the hour every day.”

Before he ever thought of himself as a songwriter, Smith was concerned mainly with tennis. He played for the formidable program at Tyler Junior College before transferring to St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. Smith soon began getting into music as well, playing solo gigs in local bars. And he began writing, inspired by looking at life as it played out around him.

“I’d be in a restaurant and overhear someone saying something, and I’ll have to excuse myself, walk outside and write a note to myself about it,” he says. “These days, I make little iPhone recordings. The other day I made one about this homeless guy I saw by the side of the road out in the middle of nowhere. He was dirty and worn out but he was picking these gorgeous flowers. I constantly see moments and images and statements, put them in the bank and have them there to reflect on and make into honest lyrics down the road.”

Even when he writes a love song, Smith almost can’t help but turn the mundane into something transcendent. On Geronimo, he does this with “All I See Is You”: “The storm’s running through the Midwest like a bandit on the loose. / All the clouds are black as night and all I see is you. / The rain’s pouring through the window panes and the cracks of this roof. / Tea’s boiling from the spout of the pot, but all I see is you.”

Recorded and self-produced while on the road throughout Austin, Dallas and Nashville, Geronimo weaves these images into story lines, each enhancing the other, together coming alive. “I love trying to tell stories through songs,” Smith observes. “There’s something that fascinates me about echoing old tales in songs to carry them on for years and years, like old folk songs.”

And so we travel with a newly freed slave in the nineteenth century, hearing the music and feeling the exuberance of dancing in Congo Square on “New Orleans.” We feel the rueful reflection from a sinner who “spent time on the wrong side of the church door” on “Right Side of the Ground.” We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Alamo’s doomed heroes as their final seconds near on “Crockett’s Prayer.” And the title track serves a dual purpose, taking us to a heroic time and place while making a broader statement about this project.

“On one end, it is an attempt to pay tribute to the life of Geronimo, the Apache warrior,” says Smith. “I’ve always been fascinated by Geronimo and the principles he stood for. This also presented the perfect opportunity to relate the term ‘Geronimo’ with our intensions of this album and the ‘jumping from a cliff’ idea that it symbolizes. If we are going to attempt a career in music, this album is our commitment to give it everything we’ve got.”

“Our goal with this album was never to put out a bunch of catchy singles and be all over the radio,” explains Smith. “It was to set us apart, with meaningful lyrics, huge harmonies and the sound of a hard-working band that has played some crappy gigs and come out stronger for it. We always had the options to either make a ‘safe’ record or put something out that sounds like us and no one else.”

“We took that second option and named it Geronimo.”

Play just the first 10 seconds of “The Mountain,” which opens Geronimo, the latest and most ambitious release from Shane Smith & The Saints. Robust a cappella, four-part harmonies set the stage for a saga of family tragedy, a young son’s revenge and a blaze burning eternally in a Pennsylvania mine. The vivid lyrics, powerful vocals and thumping four-beat drums throughout this song are reason enough for lovers of creative roots music to celebrate.

From their home base in Austin through performances across the country (17 states) and abroad (Ireland), these five gentlemen have not just stuck stubbornly to their musical and lyrical convictions. They’ve defied audience expectations by delivering incendiary shows, each one ignited by the band’s ability to unleash, feed from and feed back the energy of the crowd — in spite of the fact that they don’t fit easily into any musical category.

With Geronimo, they’ve dared themselves to exceed their own expectations.

Each song begins with Smith creating its “bones,” in the form of chords and lyrics. He then joins fiddler Bennett Brown, lead guitarist Tim Allen, bassist Chase Satterwhite and drummer Zach Stover to bring those bones to life. Aside from a bit of cello, some horns and a few keyboard parts, the band lays down each note on Geronimo. Their ability to bring songs to life has even earned them opportunities to record instrumental tracks for other artists.

Smith’s ability to draw images from everyday life into poetry goes back to his earliest days in Terrell, Texas, an hour east of Dallas.

“There was an old Catholic church right next to our house,” he recalls. “To this day, I remember those church bells ringing. In fact, I use that reference in a song from Geronimo called ‘Suzannah,’ which is about a guy who’s fighting a war and is thinking of his hometown — and he also remembers being raised with a church bell ringing on the hour every day.”

Before he ever thought of himself as a songwriter, Smith was concerned mainly with tennis. He played for the formidable program at Tyler Junior College before transferring to St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. Smith soon began getting into music as well, playing solo gigs in local bars. And he began writing, inspired by looking at life as it played out around him.

“I’d be in a restaurant and overhear someone saying something, and I’ll have to excuse myself, walk outside and write a note to myself about it,” he says. “These days, I make little iPhone recordings. The other day I made one about this homeless guy I saw by the side of the road out in the middle of nowhere. He was dirty and worn out but he was picking these gorgeous flowers. I constantly see moments and images and statements, put them in the bank and have them there to reflect on and make into honest lyrics down the road.”

Even when he writes a love song, Smith almost can’t help but turn the mundane into something transcendent. On Geronimo, he does this with “All I See Is You”: “The storm’s running through the Midwest like a bandit on the loose. / All the clouds are black as night and all I see is you. / The rain’s pouring through the window panes and the cracks of this roof. / Tea’s boiling from the spout of the pot, but all I see is you.”

Recorded and self-produced while on the road throughout Austin, Dallas and Nashville, Geronimo weaves these images into story lines, each enhancing the other, together coming alive. “I love trying to tell stories through songs,” Smith observes. “There’s something that fascinates me about echoing old tales in songs to carry them on for years and years, like old folk songs.”

And so we travel with a newly freed slave in the nineteenth century, hearing the music and feeling the exuberance of dancing in Congo Square on “New Orleans.” We feel the rueful reflection from a sinner who “spent time on the wrong side of the church door” on “Right Side of the Ground.” We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Alamo’s doomed heroes as their final seconds near on “Crockett’s Prayer.” And the title track serves a dual purpose, taking us to a heroic time and place while making a broader statement about this project.

“On one end, it is an attempt to pay tribute to the life of Geronimo, the Apache warrior,” says Smith. “I’ve always been fascinated by Geronimo and the principles he stood for. This also presented the perfect opportunity to relate the term ‘Geronimo’ with our intensions of this album and the ‘jumping from a cliff’ idea that it symbolizes. If we are going to attempt a career in music, this album is our commitment to give it everything we’ve got.”

“Our goal with this album was never to put out a bunch of catchy singles and be all over the radio,” explains Smith. “It was to set us apart, with meaningful lyrics, huge harmonies and the sound of a hard-working band that has played some crappy gigs and come out stronger for it. We always had the options to either make a ‘safe’ record or put something out that sounds like us and no one else.”

“We took that second option and named it Geronimo.”

(Early Show) Bonnie Bishop

It's only a matter of time until Hollywood snaps up the story of how singer-songwriter Bonnie Bishop connected with Dave Cobb, one of the hottest producers in the business, to unlock her inner soul singer and record the best album of her career: "Ain't Who I Was" (May 27; Thirty Tigers/RED).

Even though Bishop can barely believe it herself, it's a story that will need no dramatic embellishment, because every twist of fate - and faith - is absolutely true.

Before landing with Cobb, whose credits include Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson, Bishop had thrown in the towel on her country-leaning career, too frustrated, beat-up and broke to go on after 13 years, five albums and one failed marriage. It landed on the rag pile despite monogramming by her idol, Bonnie Raitt, who recorded a Bishop/Big Al Anderson co-write on her comeback album, "Slipstream." The song, "Not Cause I Wanted To," topped the New York Times' year-end best-of list, then "Slipstream" won 2012's Best Americana Album Grammy. Bishop also popped onto iTunes' country chart in 2013 with a song delivered by Connie Britton, the star of ABC-TV's hit series "Nashville."

But a girl can only live so long on accolades and exposure. After spending 200 nights a year on the road - loading her own gear, running her own sound and sleeping in her van - and still not earning enough to afford Christmas presents for her family, Bishop knew she'd hit a dead end.

"I started to break down mentally and physically from the stress," she confesses. When a panic attack sent her to a Nashville emergency room, she was told to take a rest. So Texas-raised Bishop, who'd moved to Nashville in the hopes of writing Raitt-worthy songs, retreated to her parents' ranch in Wimberley, outside of Austin. Feelings of failure and despair gnawed at her psyche; she went into mourning for the death of her dream.

"I spent three months crying and feeling sorry for myself, then decided I had to figure out what to do," explains Bishop, her voice bright and cheerful. "I had all these amazing stories from the road, and I started writing them down as a way of healing. Then stories from childhood started coming out, and I started seeing these threads in my stories in a way that allowed me to celebrate what I had done, instead of beating myself up for having failed. I thought maybe I could make a career doing that. So I applied to graduate school."

But before leaving Nashville, she called Thirty Tigers co-founder David Macias, whose multi-faceted entertainment company handles Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Simpson and Isbell - whose Cobb-produced release won 2015's Best Americana Album Grammy.

"David always believed in me," Bishop says. "I told him what was going on in my life, and he said, 'I don't think your music career is over. You just need to make a great record with a real producer.'"

He sent Cobb some demos. Cobb invited her to lunch. At the time, he was working with Stapleton, recording what would become 2015's Best Country Album Grammy winner and 2016's ACM Album of the Year.

Bishop flew to Nashville to meet him. Cobb told her she should be singing soul, not country, and that he'd been wanting to record a soul album.

She was thrilled. As a child in Houston, she'd heard her surgeon father, a former musician, playing blues piano, and her cellist mother spinning Motown singles. After they split, her mother married football coach Jackie Sherrill, who took a coaching job at Mississippi State.

"I am from Texas, but there's a lot of Mississippi in me," Bishop offers. "I definitely got my soul from hanging with all the black girls in choir there. That's how I learned to sing."

She credits her late songwriter friend Tim Krekel with helping her rediscover her "bluesy voice." Krekel had also written with Stapleton, and when Cobb mentioned to Stapleton and his wife, Morgane, that he was meeting Bishop, Morgane said, "I love Bonnie Bishop's voice! You have to do this record!"

Bishop didn't even know Stapleton had co-authored her favorite Krekel song, "Be With You," when she added it to her setlist after singing it at his funeral (he passed away from cancer in 2010). It's one of several standout tracks on the album. But before she recorded it - or any others - she had to face another series of panic-inducing challenges.

"It was very scary for me to make the mental space for hope to live again, because I was so afraid of getting my heart broken by music," she admits. "I had doubts about whether or not I could still even sing. I was nervous as hell."

Plus, she had no idea what Cobb actually had in mind. "I just had to trust this person," Bishop notes. "At the same time, I'm having this huge mental battle because I'd worked so hard to kill this dream, and then here I am … it required complete faith that there was a purpose to this."

She also had debt from the semester she'd just completed in the graduate creative writing program at Sewanee University of the South, outside of Nashville. (Bishop earned her undergraduate degree in sociology and musical theater from the University of Texas.) When her album investor bailed at the last minute, her friend and manager, Dave Claassen, had to talk her down from another freak-out, reassuring her that it would somehow work out. (His motto, she says, is "just show up.")

Cobb picked six songs from her list of 36, including six she co-wrote, and they found two more. One is "Done Died," a spiritual he discovered on YouTube, sung by an old Mississippi bluesman named Boyd Rivers. Cobb had been saving it for someone special; when she heard it, she cried.

"That's totally how I feel, like I died and I'm coming back to life," she explains. "I'd already had that spiritual transformation years before, but now I'm having it again musically." In Bishop's version, which slinks like a full-bellied crocodile from gutbucket blues to raw, unfettered soul, her sandstone voice captures the frenzy of a born-again believer as it rises to the heavens.

"[Cobb] knew that I had a deep story that I wanted to tell and he really helped me do that," Bishop says. It's a story of transformation, expressed in lyrics of longing, loss, loneliness and finally, resurrection.

"The record is called 'Ain't Who I Was' because I'm not the same person I was, personally or musically," says Bishop. "I was at a point where I just didn't know anymore. I didn't even have a vision, and this amazing producer came alongside me and believed in me and pulled my voice back out and made me get back up and sing."

She chokes up while describing the experience, but one thing is clear: Her vocal prowess was never an issue. She just hadn't worked with someone who knew how to unleash its full power. On this release, she gets right to it with the funky opener, "Mercy" (recorded as "Have A Little Mercy" by Ann Sexton), answering wah-wah guitar licks with a gritty groove. Then she gets soft and whispery on "Be With You," creating a sound so intimate, its almost as if the listener becomes the lover she's singing to.

On "Not Cause I Wanted To," she confesses to her ex how much pain she carries after leaving him; if the ballad, which takes us to church with a Wurlitzer-filled bridge, somehow sounds even more soulful than Raitt's version, it's because this writer lived it.

Bishop again laments that hurt, but with a completely different approach, on "Too Late," a co-write with Ford Thurston. Here, she conjures Dusty and the Supremes while dancing through a storm of needle-sharp guitar notes.

"It was simple arrangements and cool grooves, and I loved the sounds I was hearing as we recorded," Bishop says. "It's the record I always wanted to make and didn't know how. And Dave did. Without having ever seen me live, just hearing three acoustic demos, he pulled it out of me when I thought was dead. It was such an incredible thing."

But she really gets to the heart of the matter with "Broken," one of three she penned with keyboardist Jimmy Wallace. It's a sweeping, emotion-filled ballad, tailor-made for playing over a movie's closing credits. When Bishop lets loose on the chorus, singing, "I don't wanna be /Broken anymore/Don't wanna see pieces of me/Shattered on the floor," you can hear every tear she spilled while writing those lines. It truly is a knockout performance.

When Macias heard it, along with the other tracks they'd done, he announced Thirty Tigers would pay for the album and help get it heard.

"All these Davids believed in me and brought me back to life," says Bishop. "I feel like I'm truly living a fairy tale. All I do on a daily basis now is get up and say thank-you, Jesus that this is all going on and show me how to show up today. Show me how to show up and not think too hard about it and not beat myself up and not allow what happened in the past to affect what I do today. … That is the gift that Dave Cobb gave me. And I'm so grateful and so excited."

She's also thankful she recorded with Cobb when she did; his work is winning so many awards, he's more in demand than ever.

If Bishop and Cobb should share an award someday, that'll be icing for the movie. But with or without that scene, she knows the message she wants it to convey: That dreams do come true. As long as you keep believing.

"Dreams are lifetime visions," Bishop says wisely. "And life is valleys and mountains. And if you can accept that, you'll be fine."

'Ain't Who I Was' Track Listing:
1. Mercy
2. Be With You
3. Looking For You
4. Done Died
5. Poor Man's Melody
6. Broken
7. Too Late
8. Ain't Who I Was
9. Not Cause I Wanted To
10. You Will Be Loved
Follow Bonnie Bishop here:

It's only a matter of time until Hollywood snaps up the story of how singer-songwriter Bonnie Bishop connected with Dave Cobb, one of the hottest producers in the business, to unlock her inner soul singer and record the best album of her career: "Ain't Who I Was" (May 27; Thirty Tigers/RED).

Even though Bishop can barely believe it herself, it's a story that will need no dramatic embellishment, because every twist of fate - and faith - is absolutely true.

Before landing with Cobb, whose credits include Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson, Bishop had thrown in the towel on her country-leaning career, too frustrated, beat-up and broke to go on after 13 years, five albums and one failed marriage. It landed on the rag pile despite monogramming by her idol, Bonnie Raitt, who recorded a Bishop/Big Al Anderson co-write on her comeback album, "Slipstream." The song, "Not Cause I Wanted To," topped the New York Times' year-end best-of list, then "Slipstream" won 2012's Best Americana Album Grammy. Bishop also popped onto iTunes' country chart in 2013 with a song delivered by Connie Britton, the star of ABC-TV's hit series "Nashville."

But a girl can only live so long on accolades and exposure. After spending 200 nights a year on the road - loading her own gear, running her own sound and sleeping in her van - and still not earning enough to afford Christmas presents for her family, Bishop knew she'd hit a dead end.

"I started to break down mentally and physically from the stress," she confesses. When a panic attack sent her to a Nashville emergency room, she was told to take a rest. So Texas-raised Bishop, who'd moved to Nashville in the hopes of writing Raitt-worthy songs, retreated to her parents' ranch in Wimberley, outside of Austin. Feelings of failure and despair gnawed at her psyche; she went into mourning for the death of her dream.

"I spent three months crying and feeling sorry for myself, then decided I had to figure out what to do," explains Bishop, her voice bright and cheerful. "I had all these amazing stories from the road, and I started writing them down as a way of healing. Then stories from childhood started coming out, and I started seeing these threads in my stories in a way that allowed me to celebrate what I had done, instead of beating myself up for having failed. I thought maybe I could make a career doing that. So I applied to graduate school."

But before leaving Nashville, she called Thirty Tigers co-founder David Macias, whose multi-faceted entertainment company handles Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Simpson and Isbell - whose Cobb-produced release won 2015's Best Americana Album Grammy.

"David always believed in me," Bishop says. "I told him what was going on in my life, and he said, 'I don't think your music career is over. You just need to make a great record with a real producer.'"

He sent Cobb some demos. Cobb invited her to lunch. At the time, he was working with Stapleton, recording what would become 2015's Best Country Album Grammy winner and 2016's ACM Album of the Year.

Bishop flew to Nashville to meet him. Cobb told her she should be singing soul, not country, and that he'd been wanting to record a soul album.

She was thrilled. As a child in Houston, she'd heard her surgeon father, a former musician, playing blues piano, and her cellist mother spinning Motown singles. After they split, her mother married football coach Jackie Sherrill, who took a coaching job at Mississippi State.

"I am from Texas, but there's a lot of Mississippi in me," Bishop offers. "I definitely got my soul from hanging with all the black girls in choir there. That's how I learned to sing."

She credits her late songwriter friend Tim Krekel with helping her rediscover her "bluesy voice." Krekel had also written with Stapleton, and when Cobb mentioned to Stapleton and his wife, Morgane, that he was meeting Bishop, Morgane said, "I love Bonnie Bishop's voice! You have to do this record!"

Bishop didn't even know Stapleton had co-authored her favorite Krekel song, "Be With You," when she added it to her setlist after singing it at his funeral (he passed away from cancer in 2010). It's one of several standout tracks on the album. But before she recorded it - or any others - she had to face another series of panic-inducing challenges.

"It was very scary for me to make the mental space for hope to live again, because I was so afraid of getting my heart broken by music," she admits. "I had doubts about whether or not I could still even sing. I was nervous as hell."

Plus, she had no idea what Cobb actually had in mind. "I just had to trust this person," Bishop notes. "At the same time, I'm having this huge mental battle because I'd worked so hard to kill this dream, and then here I am … it required complete faith that there was a purpose to this."

She also had debt from the semester she'd just completed in the graduate creative writing program at Sewanee University of the South, outside of Nashville. (Bishop earned her undergraduate degree in sociology and musical theater from the University of Texas.) When her album investor bailed at the last minute, her friend and manager, Dave Claassen, had to talk her down from another freak-out, reassuring her that it would somehow work out. (His motto, she says, is "just show up.")

Cobb picked six songs from her list of 36, including six she co-wrote, and they found two more. One is "Done Died," a spiritual he discovered on YouTube, sung by an old Mississippi bluesman named Boyd Rivers. Cobb had been saving it for someone special; when she heard it, she cried.

"That's totally how I feel, like I died and I'm coming back to life," she explains. "I'd already had that spiritual transformation years before, but now I'm having it again musically." In Bishop's version, which slinks like a full-bellied crocodile from gutbucket blues to raw, unfettered soul, her sandstone voice captures the frenzy of a born-again believer as it rises to the heavens.

"[Cobb] knew that I had a deep story that I wanted to tell and he really helped me do that," Bishop says. It's a story of transformation, expressed in lyrics of longing, loss, loneliness and finally, resurrection.

"The record is called 'Ain't Who I Was' because I'm not the same person I was, personally or musically," says Bishop. "I was at a point where I just didn't know anymore. I didn't even have a vision, and this amazing producer came alongside me and believed in me and pulled my voice back out and made me get back up and sing."

She chokes up while describing the experience, but one thing is clear: Her vocal prowess was never an issue. She just hadn't worked with someone who knew how to unleash its full power. On this release, she gets right to it with the funky opener, "Mercy" (recorded as "Have A Little Mercy" by Ann Sexton), answering wah-wah guitar licks with a gritty groove. Then she gets soft and whispery on "Be With You," creating a sound so intimate, its almost as if the listener becomes the lover she's singing to.

On "Not Cause I Wanted To," she confesses to her ex how much pain she carries after leaving him; if the ballad, which takes us to church with a Wurlitzer-filled bridge, somehow sounds even more soulful than Raitt's version, it's because this writer lived it.

Bishop again laments that hurt, but with a completely different approach, on "Too Late," a co-write with Ford Thurston. Here, she conjures Dusty and the Supremes while dancing through a storm of needle-sharp guitar notes.

"It was simple arrangements and cool grooves, and I loved the sounds I was hearing as we recorded," Bishop says. "It's the record I always wanted to make and didn't know how. And Dave did. Without having ever seen me live, just hearing three acoustic demos, he pulled it out of me when I thought was dead. It was such an incredible thing."

But she really gets to the heart of the matter with "Broken," one of three she penned with keyboardist Jimmy Wallace. It's a sweeping, emotion-filled ballad, tailor-made for playing over a movie's closing credits. When Bishop lets loose on the chorus, singing, "I don't wanna be /Broken anymore/Don't wanna see pieces of me/Shattered on the floor," you can hear every tear she spilled while writing those lines. It truly is a knockout performance.

When Macias heard it, along with the other tracks they'd done, he announced Thirty Tigers would pay for the album and help get it heard.

"All these Davids believed in me and brought me back to life," says Bishop. "I feel like I'm truly living a fairy tale. All I do on a daily basis now is get up and say thank-you, Jesus that this is all going on and show me how to show up today. Show me how to show up and not think too hard about it and not beat myself up and not allow what happened in the past to affect what I do today. … That is the gift that Dave Cobb gave me. And I'm so grateful and so excited."

She's also thankful she recorded with Cobb when she did; his work is winning so many awards, he's more in demand than ever.

If Bishop and Cobb should share an award someday, that'll be icing for the movie. But with or without that scene, she knows the message she wants it to convey: That dreams do come true. As long as you keep believing.

"Dreams are lifetime visions," Bishop says wisely. "And life is valleys and mountains. And if you can accept that, you'll be fine."

'Ain't Who I Was' Track Listing:
1. Mercy
2. Be With You
3. Looking For You
4. Done Died
5. Poor Man's Melody
6. Broken
7. Too Late
8. Ain't Who I Was
9. Not Cause I Wanted To
10. You Will Be Loved
Follow Bonnie Bishop here:

An Evening with The Grammy Award-winning Rebirth Brass Band

Whether seen on HBO's Treme or at their legendary Tuesday night gig at The Maple Leaf, Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band is a true New Orleans institution. Formed in 1983 by the Frazier brothers, the band has evolved from playing the streets of the French Quarter to playing festivals and stages all over the world. While committed to upholding the tradition of brass bands, they have also extended themselves into the realms of funk and hip-hop to create their signature sound. “Rebirth can be precise whenever it wants to,” says The New York Times, “but it’s more like a party than a machine. It’s a working model of the New Orleans musical ethos: as long as everybody knows what they’re doing, anyone can cut loose.” In the wake of the sometimes-stringent competition among New Orleans brass bands, Rebirth is the undisputed leader of the pack, and they show no signs of slowing down.

Following the Grammy-winning Rebirth of New Orleans, Rebirth Brass Band is at it again with Move Your Body, an infectious, groove-laden collection of hip-shakers sure to saturate the dance floor.

Rollicking originals like "Who's Rockin, Who's Rollin'"? and "Take 'Em to the Moon" reaffirm the band's position as head of the brass throne while the rasta-esque "On My Way" and leave-nothing-to-the-imagination lyrics of "HBNS" showcase the unit's talent for penning unabashed party starters.

Boasting a mastery of Rebirth's signature "heavy funk" sound, Move Your Body pushes and swings, leaving behind an 11 track thumbprint, approved by the Frazier brothers themselves, of a sultry Tuesday night spent dancing on their home court at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans.

Whether seen on HBO's Treme or at their legendary Tuesday night gig at The Maple Leaf, Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band is a true New Orleans institution. Formed in 1983 by the Frazier brothers, the band has evolved from playing the streets of the French Quarter to playing festivals and stages all over the world. While committed to upholding the tradition of brass bands, they have also extended themselves into the realms of funk and hip-hop to create their signature sound. “Rebirth can be precise whenever it wants to,” says The New York Times, “but it’s more like a party than a machine. It’s a working model of the New Orleans musical ethos: as long as everybody knows what they’re doing, anyone can cut loose.” In the wake of the sometimes-stringent competition among New Orleans brass bands, Rebirth is the undisputed leader of the pack, and they show no signs of slowing down.

Following the Grammy-winning Rebirth of New Orleans, Rebirth Brass Band is at it again with Move Your Body, an infectious, groove-laden collection of hip-shakers sure to saturate the dance floor.

Rollicking originals like "Who's Rockin, Who's Rollin'"? and "Take 'Em to the Moon" reaffirm the band's position as head of the brass throne while the rasta-esque "On My Way" and leave-nothing-to-the-imagination lyrics of "HBNS" showcase the unit's talent for penning unabashed party starters.

Boasting a mastery of Rebirth's signature "heavy funk" sound, Move Your Body pushes and swings, leaving behind an 11 track thumbprint, approved by the Frazier brothers themselves, of a sultry Tuesday night spent dancing on their home court at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans.

P.O.S with Special Guests Metasota, Transit 22

Doomtree co-founder, punk philosopher and lyrical bomb-thrower Stefon Alexander, aka P.O.S, makes tight, declamatory music that builds on the Minneapolis-bred rapper and producer’s penchant for grinding beats and radical lyrics. Known for welding hip-hop with guitar squalls, screamed vocals, and futuristic beats fit for a Berlin nightclub, P.O.S steps even further into genre-blurring territory with Chill, dummy, his first official release with Doomtree Records since his 2004 debut Ipecac Neat. The album reflects on the past three years since a near-fatal kidney transplant sidelined him from making music and deals with the the difficulties of trying to maintain peace of mind and navigate through a confusing world which is becoming increasingly more alienating. P.O.S’ production fingerprints are all over this one as he maneuvers through a wide range of sprawling beats contributed by himself, usual suspects Lazerbeak and Ryan Olson, and newcomers Cory Grindberg and Makr. Several friends touch down along the way to offer up biting commentary and varying points of view (Allan Kingdom, Astronautalis, Kathleen Hanna, Justin Vernon, Open Mike Eagle, Busdriver, and Lady Midnight to name a few), but the album never suffers from an oversaturation of scattered voices, instead using everyone’s individual ethos and strengths to build a unifying call to arms. The result is P.O.S’ most bold, honest, and daring work to date, so Chill, dummy.

Doomtree co-founder, punk philosopher and lyrical bomb-thrower Stefon Alexander, aka P.O.S, makes tight, declamatory music that builds on the Minneapolis-bred rapper and producer’s penchant for grinding beats and radical lyrics. Known for welding hip-hop with guitar squalls, screamed vocals, and futuristic beats fit for a Berlin nightclub, P.O.S steps even further into genre-blurring territory with Chill, dummy, his first official release with Doomtree Records since his 2004 debut Ipecac Neat. The album reflects on the past three years since a near-fatal kidney transplant sidelined him from making music and deals with the the difficulties of trying to maintain peace of mind and navigate through a confusing world which is becoming increasingly more alienating. P.O.S’ production fingerprints are all over this one as he maneuvers through a wide range of sprawling beats contributed by himself, usual suspects Lazerbeak and Ryan Olson, and newcomers Cory Grindberg and Makr. Several friends touch down along the way to offer up biting commentary and varying points of view (Allan Kingdom, Astronautalis, Kathleen Hanna, Justin Vernon, Open Mike Eagle, Busdriver, and Lady Midnight to name a few), but the album never suffers from an oversaturation of scattered voices, instead using everyone’s individual ethos and strengths to build a unifying call to arms. The result is P.O.S’ most bold, honest, and daring work to date, so Chill, dummy.

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