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Posts Categorized / Song Of The Week

Song Of The Week | Dec 22, 2014

Mulebone – Ain’t No Price To Pay

mulebone_boomboxMulebone is a partnership comprised of multi-instrumentalist, John Ragusa and roots music specialist, Hugh Pool. The launching pad for their musical expression is traditional blues.

Together they have recorded a CD which spent 15 weeks in the Top 100 Albums in America. Along with playing live and TV appearances, they won blues artist of the year at radio stations from Seattle, Washington to Red Bank, New Jersey. Any given week, you may find them playing clubs in NYC or entertaining at private parties thrown by David Rockefeller, Bruce Wasserstein and list of other East Coast residents who are enthusiastic about bringing these boys in for a party by road, sea or air.
In Mulebone, John plays, conch shell, Jews harp, cornet, all manner of flutes, tin whistle, and chimes in on the harmony vocals.
He is member of Beth Nielsen Chapman’s group as well as his own John Ragusa outfit, and plays regularly in conjunction with Deepak Chopra’s speaking engagements. Amongst dozens of studio credits are contemporary jazz greats Joe Taylor, Jeremy Wall and world music icon Tom Ze.
Hugh says, “One time we were in Lexington, Kentucky sitting at an outdoor cafe and John played me a bunch of melodies sliding a straw up and down in a cup of ice water”…you get the drift.
Hugh plays guitars, harmonica, boot board and sings, all with a mouth full of whiskey and a giant heart.
He has played his brand of blues in clubs and at festivals from Jakarta, Indonesia to North Cape, Norway; From Vienna, Austria to Ottawa, Ontario and has been critically lauded by The New York Times, New York Press, The Village Voice, Pittsburgh Press, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Blues Revue Magazine…the list goes on.



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Song Of The Week | Dec 15, 2014

Selwyn Birchwood – Tell Me Why

Selwyn-Birchwood-625x375Selwyn Birchwood, Florida’s rising young blues fireball, is a guitar and lap-steel-playing bundle of pure energy. He delivers his original songs with a revival tent preacher’s fervor and a natural storyteller’s charisma made all the more impactful by his raw, unvarnished vocals. Birchwood plays high-octane blues – at once deeply rooted, funky and up-to-the-minute – with true passion and honest emotion. With his band feeding off his drive and exuberance, the striking 6’3” 29-year-old with his trademark Afro roams the stage (often barefoot), ripping out memorable guitar licks with ease. His ability to win over an audience – any audience – is proven night after night on the bandstand. With his warm, magnetic personality, Birchwood is as down-to-earth as his music is fun, thought-provoking and vital. His mission is to spread his music far and wide, to share his joy, to play his heart out, and to push the blues into the future. “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than playing the blues,” he says. “And I try to convey that with every song and with every performance.”
In 2013, Birchwood catapulted from local hero to shooting star. He won the world-renowned International Blues Challenge, beating out 125 other bands from the U.S. and abroad. He also took home the Albert King Guitarist Of The Year Award. It wasn’t long before Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer offered Birchwood a contract. His debut album, Don’t Call No Ambulance, is a fully realized vision of contemporary blues. Birchwood’s original songs range from raucous romps to hill country stomps, from searing, serious slow blues to modern blues rock. Between his uninhibited sense of fun and adventure and his serious-as-a-heart-attack musicianship, Don’t Call No Ambulance is a window into the future of the blues. “All originals and no filler,” he says of the album. “It’s that genuineness of emotion in the songs that people can hear.”


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Song Of The Week | Dec 08, 2014

Shakey Graves – Pansy Waltz

shakeygravesHailed as Austin’s best one-man band, Shakey Graves is an artist of understated power and overt mystique. His bio simply reads, “Shakey Graves is a gentleman from Texas.” Perhaps that’s all you need to know before stumbling into his music — and stumble you should. Rooted in the darker side of the folk tradition (think Townes Van Zandt), he magically balances lyrical depth with lighthearted accompaniment that creates an awe-inspiring, accessible sound. His two albums — Donor Blues EP and Roll The Bones — expertly capture the juxtaposition of a lo-fi aesthetic and energizing stage shows. The Donor Blues EP (released in 2012) catalogs previously unreleased home recordings using a subpar mic and 4-track recorder, whereas 2011’s Roll The Bones runs the gamut of charming folk tunes and haunting deliveries masked in up-tempo beats.


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Song Of The Week | Dec 01, 2014

Blitzen Trapper – To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High).

38 artists, including Andrew Bird, Blitzen Trapper, Superchunk, Chuck Ragan, Nicki Bluhm, Ted Leo, Ben Kweller, Chris Shiflett (of Foo Fighters), Into It. Over It., Shakey Graves, and more covering songs from Bloodshot’s 20-year history.

With a heady brew of resilience, stalwart dedication, Cervantes-level delusion and mulish determination on behalf of music and artists we love, and luck—serendipity, even—Bloodshot Records has improbably survived 20 years in the venal snake pit that is the music industry.

As an indie label operating on the fringes, we try to keep our eyes forward and ignore and avoid the chaos, distractions, inanities, and indifference on the peripheries of the biz and bring to bear our ingrained, Chicago stacker-of-wheat work ethic. The pay is low, but at least the hours are long, and there’s never been an expectation of longevity; there’s always been some new hurdle to climb over or problem to solve. Still, after all this time, we wake up in the morning (or, er, sometimes afternoons) excited about new music we’ve heard, a new band we’ve seen, some minor victory in the battle to dent the world’s ever-shortening and shallowing attention span.


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Song Of The Week | Nov 24, 2014

Willie Nile – Lost

willienileIn his three and a half decades as a recording artist, Willie Nile has earned a reputation as both a fiercely committed rock ’n’ roller and a singularly insightful songwriter. It’s Nile’s introspective side that fuels If I Was A River, a deeply compelling ten-song collection that diverges from his usual sound, while affirming the remarkable melodic and lyrical skills that have long endeared the artist to his passionately loyal fan base.
In contrast to the rousing, guitar-based rock ’n’ roll that’s been the focus of the dozen albums that he’s released since 1980, If I Was A River features ten stirring original compositions on which Nile accompanies himself on piano, with sparse arrangements that keep the focus firmly on the songs and Nile’s deeply felt performances.
That stripped-down, piano-based approach is one that Nile has explored on various tracks over the years, but never for the length of an entire album. However, in the wake of the warm public reception that greeted his 2013 release American Ride —which won some of the most enthusiastic reviews of his career and was voted Best Rock Album of the Year at the Independent Music Awards — Nile was ready to explore some new creative options.



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