She’s had a Top Ten hit on the Pop charts, and she’s recorded several albums devoted to jug band, folk and pre-war blues – you can say that Maria Muldaur has had a unique musical journey. That Billboard hit, “Midnight at the Oasis,” garnered her a Grammy nomination and set her on a path as a solo artist.
She’s enjoyed a two-decade partnership with the Canadian label, Stony Plain Records, where she’s been able to delve deep into various strains of American roots music – every time coming up with something that draws on the past yet still sounds fresh.
Her 43rd album is called Let’s Get Happy Together, and it’s a collaboration with Tuba Skinny, a New Orleans street band that’s dedicated to classic music of the early 20th century.
We talk to Muldaur about the crazy story of hooking up with Tuba Skinny, plus, the fun task of finding songs from 100 years ago to do on this album. She also talks about what made her gravitate to roots music in the first place.
She had the voice, the look and the songs, but, for whatever reason, success eluded Evie Sands during her early years in the 1960’s. She recorded the original versions of songs that were hits for other people, like “Take Me For a Little While,” “I Can’t Let Go,” and “Angel of the Morning.” She finally had a hit of her own with “Anyway That You Want Me” in 1969.
Around that time, she began writing songs herself, having heavyweights like Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick and Gladys Knight perform her compositions.
Eventually, she built a career as an independent artist, writing, producing and releasing her own material. Now, she’s issued her first new full album in two decades called Get Out of Your Own Way.
We talk about how the global pandemic threw a wrench in the plans to release the new album. She tells us about her very first recording, “The Roll,” which she sang when she was only eleven years old. And, she also talks about the strange circumstances that clouded her early releases, and why they weren’t successful.
James Holvay grew up listening to R&B music in Chicago and started writing songs at the tender age of 12. He ended up penning a #1 smash for the Buckinghams, “Kind of a Drag.” That was followed up by a trio of hits: “Don’t You Care,” “Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song)” and “Susan” – all Top 20 smashes in the span of a year. He was also a part of The Mob, a group of soul-devotees that played a ton of shows and had success in several cities in the US before disbanding in 1980.
Four decades out of the musical spotlight, Holvay is back with a salute to the Windy City Sound on an EP called Sweet Soul Song. Everything is authentic, from the music, which sounds right out of 1966, to the cover, which mimics a classic album from Gene Chandler.
We chat getting that perfect drum sound by recording…in his kitchen!
Also, he tells us the stories behind the Buckinghams’ hits and what is was like working with producer James Guercio, who went on to bigger success with Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago.
California native Maia Sharp has written songs for a variety of folks, including Bonnie Raitt, Cher, Paul Carrack, Edwin McCain and Trisha Yearwood. At the same time, she’s issued critically-acclaimed albums on her own. Maia has also collaborated with the legendary Art Garfunkel and, more recently, teamed with songwriting partner Anna Schulze as Roscoe & Etta.
She returns with her eighth album, called Mercy Rising, and it sounds like nothing she’s done before. Some of it is dark and eerie, you might expect that after a year of being locked down. But, there’s also an immediacy – as if she’s singing right next to you – and aren’t we all in need of some humanness right now?
Chuck Leavell is one of the most accomplished keyboard players in popular music. He joined the Allman Brothers Band after brother Duane’s untimely passing, and it’s his piano work that adorned the fantastic instrumental “Jessica.” He stayed with the band through the late Seventies before joining the Rolling Stones in the early Eighties.
Since then, he’s toured with and played on albums by Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Bruce Hornsby, the Black Crowes, and more current musicians like John Mayer, Eric Church and Train, just to name a few.
All those artists just mentioned take part in a fantastic new documentary on Leavell called Chuck Leavell – The Tree Man, directed by Allen Farst, a Dayton native. The new film not only covers his life in music, but the title refers to his alter ego as an environmental forester, even winning National Tree Farmer of the Year a few years back. It’s also a love story between Chuck and his wife – Oh, by the way, they also interview President Jimmy Carter in the movie too.
We talk how he got the big break to join the Allman Brothers, and what important role he plays now with the Rolling Stones, who hope to go back on tour soon. In addition, we chat a little known project called Sailcat, who had a “one-hit wonder” with the song “Motorcycle Mama,” which he played on.
Click below to watch the trailer and options to view the full movie:
Firefall emerged from Boulder, Colorado in the mid-Seventies with a string of hit songs, including “You Are the Woman,” “Just Remember I Love You,” “Cinderella,” and “Strange Way.” It’s unusual that, over 40 years later, the band still has three original members.
Even more unlikely, they’ve got some new music to share. Comet is their first new album in over two decades, yet it’s full of the melodic hooks and harmonies that have been the band’s signature ever since the beginning. Vocalist/lead guitarist Jock Bartley spent time in Gram Parsons’ Fallen Angels before forming Firefall with Rick Roberts.
We talk the challenges of completing an album during a pandemic, plus how Chris Hillman of the Byrds played a key role in the band’s early success. We also chat about how he got the gig with Gram Parsons and doing session work for, of all people, Andy Gibb.
Throughout Matthew Sweet’s long career, one thing has remained constant: his uncanny ability to create memorable melodic rock. After spending the 80’s in relative obscurity, soaking in the fertile scenes of Athens, Georgia & Hoboken, New Jersey, Sweet finally hit his stride with 1991’s Girlfriend. Two years later, he followed that with Altered Beast, a darker affair.
He put together a supergroup called the Thorns with Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins. He also teamed with Bangles frontwoman Sussannah Hoffs for a trio of covers albums, while continuing to issue albums on his own.
His latest project is the closest he’s ever come to a true “solo album” – everything except drums was played by Sweet, he also produced and mixed the album himself at his home studio. Called Catspaw, it shows off a heavier, darker side of Sweet, something we haven’t seen since Altered Beast.
We talk with the Nebraska native about handling all the lead guitar for the first time on an album, and how an obscure band inspired the title of one of his new songs. Plus, he talks about how he became a part of the Athens, Georgia music scene fresh out of high school.
Chris Hillman was a founding member of the Byrds, one of the most important American bands of the 1960’s, charting hits like “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “Turn Turn Turn.” After recording the groundbreaking Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which mixed country and rock together, he formed the Flying Burrito Brothers with Gram Parsons.
He also spent time in Stephen Stills’ supergroup, Manassas, worked with Richie Furay and JD Souther, and eventually had commercial success with the Desert Rose Band.
Hillman chronicles his life in music with Time Between – My Life and a Byrd, Burrito Brother and Beyond, just out from BMG Books.
We chat with Hillman about why he chose to write his autobiography without a co-author, and why he eschewed the typical “tell all” book. He also talks about what made Gene Clark such a gifted songwriter and how playing with Stephen Stills really taught him a lot.
Van Duren came out of the same Memphis music scene as cult heroes Big Star and has played with various members of that band. After years of making melodic music in relative obscurity, Duren was approached by a pair of Australian filmmakers who wanted to make a documentary about him. The resulting movie, Waiting – the Van Duren Story, has played at a few film festivals, but has yet to secure wide distribution.
More importantly, Omnivore Recordings assembled a soundtrack to the film, which helped introduce Duren’s music to a whole new audience. Now, that same label has issued the artist’s first two solo albums – Are You Serious? and Idiot Optimism – the former being highly collectible among power pop aficionados, the latter getting its first official release.
We chat with the Memphis native about twice auditioning for Big Star, and what he learned from guitarist Chris Bell. Plus, why after recording his second album, he walked away without it being released, and the prospect of new music from his duo Loveland Duren in 2021.
NRBQ has been around for over 50 years, flying under the radar, all the while blending rock, jazz, blues, rockabilly, country and whatever else they see fit, into their own unique brand of music. The band teamed up with Omnivore Recordings several years ago, and that collaboration has netted a career-spanning, 5-disc collection called High Noon, and a 5-song EP, Happy Talk, among other great releases.
The latest partnership is the band’s first-ever rarities collection, entitled In-Frequencies. This new, 16-track set literally spans the band’s entire career, starting with a sound check (recorded in a bowling alley!) that dates back to 1968 all the way to 2018 and the band’s version of the classic standard “April Showers.”
We chat with band leader and keyboardist Terry Adams about some of the crazy stories behind rarities, like “Sho’ Need Love,” performed by the Dickens (who were actually NRBQ roadies); “Orioles,” a track written for, but never given to, the Baltimore baseball team; and their unlikely cover of “Chapel of Love.” Plus he tells us of a new NRBQ album that should be issued early next year.