Author Archive

Lee Fields’ Pure Soul Music

Sometimes it takes decades to become an overnight sensation. Such is the case of soul stirrer Lee Fields; though he released his first single, “Bewildered” b/w “Tell Her I Love Her” on a tiny label in 1969, he didn’t truly score big until 30-plus yeas later. And then his career truly took off some 20

Del McCoury and Steep Canyon Rangers: Mutual Admiration Society

Bluegrass legend Del McCoury remembers vividly the first time he saw and heard the Steep Canyon Rangers. It was at a street festival in Raleigh or Charlotte, not long after the group had formed. “The boys might have still been in college, or just out of college,” he recalls. Even then, he was struck by

Roy Ayers’ Positive Vibrations

Few popular musicians have been successful at making a switch from one genre to another while holding on to a substantial fan base. Singer and vibraphonst Roy Ayers has done it, and more than once. Famously gifted a set of vibes mallets by bandleader Lionel Hampton, Ayers earned one of his first professional breaks as

Shook Twins: Forgoing Folk Formulae

Folk music gets welcome jolts of energy, modern pop culture and technology in the music of Shook Twins. The music of identical twin sisters Laurie and Katelyn Shook is built on a foundation of acoustic folk, but they deftly combine the traditional music form with samples, looping, beatboxing, and a rhythm section that gives the

Quick Takes, Part Three

Today I take a quick look at ten archival releases of note. Tim Buckley — Wings: The Complete Singles 1966-1974 The music of Tim Buckley (yeah, late father of the late Jeff Buckley) has earned a reputation as difficult. And while I’m not here to flatly counter that impression, I must say that this collection

Quick Takes, Part Two

More quick-take reviews … Pop Co-op – Four State Solution Making an album via file sharing – instead of the old-fashioned method of gathering in a studio – is now a well-established practice. The title of this set refers to the approach used to make it. Steve Stoeckel’s name will be familiar to pop connoisseurs;

Quick Takes, Part One

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, these days I spend the majority of my time writing for print publications. Altweeklies across the USA, music and entertainment magazines in the U.S. And abroad, and so on. But I continue to receive CDs for potential review, and while I’ve had to make the “gatekeeping” more stringent, I

The Nth Power: Maximum Musical Skills

New Orleans supergroup delivers spirituality and soul live onstage and on a pair of new albums The hypnotic, deep-groove funky soul of The Nth Power is a big draw on the jam band circuit. On the group’s web site, the New Orleans-founded quartet claims that it’s “on a mission to share the light.” There’s no

Amy Black’s Latter-day FAME

Singer’s Muscle Shoals Revue honors music made at legendary Alabama studio Amy Black didn’t set out to showcase the music of Muscle Shoals, Alabama’s FAME Studios; things just worked out that way. “It wasn’t planned,” she says. “It was kind of organic.” Black originally planned to record most of her 2014 album This is Home

Drive-By Truckers: The Personal is Political

The Drive-By Truckers have always paired incisive, thoughtful lyrics with their supercharged country-rock sound. From their 1998 debut, Gangstabilly to their latest album, 2016’s American Band, the Athens, Georgia based group has resolutely charted its own path. The group’s 11th album, American Band, is being enthusiastically reviewed in many quarters; it’s showing up on more