I was thrilled to host a show of extra-ordinary artists and bands, all part of the Media and Marketing Promotion Company that is Lotos Nile. Founder Kissy Black shares her thoughts with us and many great tunes played.
The Artists Featured:
Meet Crooked Still, the hot young alternative bluegrass group on a mission to bend the boundaries of traditional music. The unlikely combination of banjo, cello, and double-bass drives this low lonesome band, whose captivating vocals and high-wire solos have enraptured audiences all over North America and Ireland since 2001.
Four very unique musical personalities merge to form Crooked Still. Aoife O’Donovan’s refined, sultry vocals float over Rushad Eggleston’s rumbling cello riffs, Dr. Gregory Liszt’s futuristic four-finger banjo rolls and Corey DiMario’s pulsing bass lines. The resulting acoustic fusion can warp a traditional American tune to the brink of unrecognizability without sacrificing the authenticity of the original sources. “It’s almost like we’re going back and making imaginary history,” says Eggleston, whose versatile cello style has already sparked a revolution among young cellists. “What if the 1920s Appalachian musicians could’ve heard the music we hear now?”
Hop High, the debut album from Crooked Still, was released at the prestigious Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in July, 2004 and was the top-selling CD at the festival that year.
Following the success of this first festival appearance, Crooked Still has appeared at concert halls, nightclubs, coffeehouses, and festivals in twenty-three states and several different countries. This grassroots endeavor frequently lands Hop High among the top ten best-selling CD’s at the online independent megastore CD Baby.
Although being an unsigned band has afforded Crooked Still the maximum creative freedom, when the president of Signature Sounds Recordings came knocking, Crooked Still listened. With a roster that includes such diverse acts as indie-rocker Josh Ritter, contemporary songwriter Lori McKenna, and old-timey folk jammers The Mammals, Signature Sounds was a perfect fit, simultaneously progressive and down-to-earth.
Jen Schonwald came to Angel Band as a veteran of the Phildelphia folk scene and as singer/guitarist with the popular group “Full Frontal Folk”.
A gritty and powerful singer, Jen had been performing since the age of twelve and Angel Band offered just the right situation to showcase her wonderfully unique talent.
Newest member, Kathleen Weber, was born into a musical family, where she developed a deep appreciation for all genres of music. Having participated in numerous choirs, bands and acoustic groups for over 20 years, Kathleen has developed vocal abilities that perfectly compliment Angel Band.
She has performed with the likes of Moravian Women’s choir, singer songwriter Steven Kelly of the Lehigh Valley, and most recently with Los Manatees of the Philadelphia area. The youngest member of the group brings a musical maturity that completes the rich harmonic texture that is the Angel Band trademark.
Nancy Josephson has a long and varied musical pedigree. As a vocalist and bass player she did stints with the Buffalo Gals, David Bromberg Band, Arlo Guthrie, Peter Rowan and Fiddle Fever. Nancy was also a vocalist with the legendary Chicago Gospel Choir, The Annettes. After a long absence from the “official” music scene, she returns with both voice and attitude to anchor this extraordinary group.
Like most explorers, Suzy offers no apologies for chasing her muse wherever it leads her. She’s always listened to her head and her heart when picking music for her albums. She’s guided by a desire to be true to herself while communicating with her audience.
She says, “What I’m really trying to do is make music that people like. That’s why I started playing in bars in the fi rst place. That’s why I listened to people when they told me I should sing another person’s songs. I believed them. We were talking to each other. We were communicating. That’s what’s so great about the Internet now. It’s what we used to do with artist co-ops and mailing lists only now you can reach millions of music fans instead of hundreds.”
Connecting with her audience has been a fundamental part of her career since she graduated from Illinois State University with an art degree and began touring the coffeehouse and club circuit.
After five years crisscrossing the country in a camper truck, Bogguss landed in Nashville and immersedherself in the creative community. She found like-minded writers who believed in songs with style and substance. Her big break came when a talent scout from Capitol Records saw her perform at Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s theme park in East Tennessee’s Smokey Mountains. A tape of her music that she sold at the park got into the hands of a label executive and three weeks later she was signed.
Her strong, supple voice and straightforward style were a clarion call for country fans looking for music with meaning. Songs like “Aces,” “Drive South,” “Someday Soon,” “Outbound Plane” and “Letting Go” soon took her to the top of the country music charts. Along the way she won raves from critics and her peers in all genres. She won the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award in 1992 and album of the Year Award in 1994, ASCAP country and pop awards for her songwriting, and in 2005 a Grammy for her contribution to the Best Folk Album, Beautiful Dreamer, the Songs of Stephen Foster.
Holly’s songs have received numerous feature film and TV placements including NBC’s Passions, the soundtracks for Warner Bros.’ films Winning London and Our Lips are Sealed, and multiple CD compilations including Live On: Songs of Love, Hope and Inspiration (A benefit CD to aid the American Red Cross Relief efforts helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Rita) and Girls Night Out: Life & Love, that have graced the shelves of TARGET and other major retail outlets.
Since then, Holly has given birth to her two children, a beautiful girl named Josephine and sweet baby boy, Truman. Fittingly, Jo provided much of the inspiration for Holly’s third project and well-received second CD Every Little Seam released in 2004. Truman has also since been instrumental in molding Holly’s ever-changing creative and musical voice.
Continuing the journey of being a mom and an artist brought Holly to write and record her third full length album, Leaving Kansas, under the careful musical direction of her Manager, Producer and dear friend, Anthony J.W. Benson. For this project Benson enlisted an experienced production team to help capture the organic feel, emotion and intimacy that would best highlight Holly’s beautiful voice and skillful songwriting. With the new team in place, including renowned recording engineer Ian Terry (David Bowie, Diana Krall, Leonard Cohen) and mastering wiz Dominick Maita (Fall Out Boy, Jewel, Curtis Stigers), the results, arguably, reflect the best of Holly Long as a performer and songwriter to date.
Holly happily resides in Venice, CA with her husband and children and continues to wrangle the butterfly muse. Through therapy, yoga, and a little help from her friends, Holly performs with love and gratefulness.
Band Of Heathens
One thing is for certain, what the Heathens do now sounds and feels more like a band. It’s something you can experience while watching Live at Antone’s on DVD. They shine on new tunes like “Rehab Facility” and “Blood In The Water.” Songs like the raucous “Jenny Was A Keeper” and the dripping with soul “Bumblebee,” – both of which appeared on their first effort Live At Momo’s – possess a different fire. Adding to the proceedings on keyboards and accordion is Chip Dolan.
The entire performance at Antone’s, thirteen songs of the Heathens at a new peak, is intercut on the DVD with interview segments that show the band’s droll sense of humor. In addition, an ‘Extras’ section includes a glimpse at the not so glamorous life on the road, as well as three songs recorded at their home base Momo’s and a collection of delightful photographs presented as a slideshow.
The Heathens ever expanding fan base will be pleased to know that they have just wrapped up recording their first studio disc, with renowned Texas troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard in the producer’s chair, and special guests Patty Griffin, Gurf Morlix and Stephen Bruton making appearances. A release in the first part of 2008 is planned.
For now however, the band will continue to tour throughout Texas and into the West, with gigs in Colorado and New Mexico scheduled for early next year, bringing their unique brand of Texas twang and country soul to anyone who is curious. In the meantime, Live At Antone’s loudly proclaims this is a band and this is what Austin‘s Best New Band sounds like
Caroline Herring digs deep—deep into the rich soil of American roots music for her sound, and deep into the recesses of her own consciousness for her themes. The musically understated, psychologically intense songs of this Atlanta-based Mississippi native ponder the eternal verities while probing the complex nature of contemporary existence; she delivers them in a fine-grained alto replete with the residue of hard-earned insight.
On Lantana, her beautiful and eloquent third album (Signature Sounds), Herring fills the listener’s heart with hope one moment and sends a chill down the spine the next. This pivotal album, which documents a personal and artistic crossroads for its author, cements her status as a truth teller, and no matter how bitter or disturbing the story leading to the truth may be, she approaches it clear-eyed and straight-on, getting down to the nub of it with quiet tenacity. No wonder fellow artist Dar Williams, who co-headlined a European tour with Herring in 2006, described her as “the elusive ‘real thing.’”
Since emerging out of the Austin scene earlier in this decade, Herring has beguiled the critics and accumulated an international following with her provocative outpourings. Her subject matter is firmly grounded in the rural South; “Mississippi’s dense history and the shackles of its past are vividly present in Herring’s songs,” noted Craig Havihurst in the Tennessean. As a onetime folklore scholar Herring also draws on her knowledge of traditional music and culture as a way of contextualizing her personal narrative, thus bringing a dimension of timelessness and universality to the work. “I’ve learned a lot from academics and all the artists I’ve worked with,” she says, “but I do try to write from my own experience, as a poet would approach her work, rather than as an academic. Though I admire all sorts of traditional art forms, I would never call myself a traditional artist.”
Vaughan is an intuitive chronicler of modern-day America and its people. His songs are informed and enriched by the places he’s seen and the people he’s met since hitting the road at sixteen to pursue a career as working musician. His fierce attention to detail and an ongoing commitment to refining the craft of his songwriting have made him one of the most heralded of America‘s new breed of song poets. The results have lead to countless accolades and the opportunity to tour with John Mellencamp, John Fogerty, Def Leppard and Journey.
His latest album, Love Like A Mule, received nearly universal critical acclaim and landed in the Top 10 of the AMA (Americana Music Association) Chart. As a road warrior, Vaughan has traveled the country in support of his albums and as an explorer of the human heart. His wandering spirit leads him to the doorway of many opportunities and his fearless explorations allow him to step through them. It’s led to some fascinating opportunities.
In fact, he’s been on tour this past year with Marty Stuart, one of the finest, most respected musicians working in any genre of music. The experience both informed and inspired Vaughan to push his own musicianship to higher levels.
Washed in the spirit and built on simple truths, his songs are ambitious epics performed with brawny passion. Irony does not reside here; Black’s compositions ring out with the unadorned truth of the moment they were conceived. His desire to dig deeper, to cut to the marrow is another hallmark of Black’s writing. He knows the world is painted in more subtle shades than black and white, so he writes songs with a painter’s eye for nuance and detail. His songs delve into complex emotional territory with a simplicity that often belies the craft that goes into their making.
As anyone who’s seen his moving, funny, and unpredictable concerts already knows, He never plays the same show twice. pulling from his commercial catalog Birmingham Road Arista 1998 Honey And Salt Blue Rose 2003, B-Sides And Confessions Volume One Dualtone 2003,” and the new music on Tin Lily, he responds to the moment. And to whatever voodoo is floating through the air shared by a unique collection of people on any given night with the stories and songs that transcend the role of a singer/songwriter and his instrument. What makes a Jeff Black record or show exciting is that, as a listener, you know the singer is there not to perform for you, but to take you on a journey with him.