Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky’

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GQ clothes-horse and man who saw a darkness Bonnie Prince Billy has his first album of new songs since 2011. This time, he brings the lightness, with help from a Louisville band including picker Nathan Salsburg, ex-Gary Burton Quartet drummer Mike Hyman and singer-songwriter Joan Shelley. Influenced by songwriters John Prine and Tom T. Hall and inspired by the state of Hawaii, I Made a Place finds Bonny using his considerable powers for good.

“This Is Far From Over” features and was edited by Captain Olivia O Wyatt. She just completed a solo transpacific crossing from San Diego to Hawaii on her 34 ft. boat, Juniper. The voyage lasted 23 days and was chronicled on her blog Wilderness of Waves . From Hawaii, she will sail around the world to destinations guided by humpback whale migration patterns. As Olivia traverses the sea, she is creating an ethnographic film exploring the mystery of humpback whale songs from the perspective of indigenous communities who revere them as deities.


Track from full-length Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy album, available January 31st, 2020.

Living in the river town Louisville, Kentucky, where the Ohio River is at its widest, must be impactful for Joan Shelley, as both this album and her last, 2018 EP Rivers and Vessels, include the word “river.” This time the river led her to Iceland, where she recorded yet another exquisite collection of songs that pairs the purest voice since Joan Baez with an exploration of uncertain currents. Over the past few years, and seven albums, Shelley, along with longtime guitarist Nathan Salsburg, has quietly created a genre unto herself.

In her album announcement she said that her songs invoke a “conversation with the divine that has seen all of it. … They are also a longing cry born of all the dividing; a call across the slowly spreading ocean. Primarily, [the album] is a haven for overstimulated heads in uncertain times.” To say that she and Salsburg put you in a trance is an oversimplification, but you do get lost and want to linger in a world so slip-shaped that only heaven seems to know. Thus, I cannot pick any single song to highlight, but if you are taken with “Cycle,” a Nick Drake-Sandy Denny-like floater, you’ll be as smitten as I am.

“LIKE THE RIVER LOVES THE SEA”, the new record, is coming out in just over 2 weeks.  I can’t wait to rip off the seal and let you all into it. Two songs are out now, as singles for the record:
Click to listen to Coming Down for You featuring Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Nathan Salsburg, and James Elkington-and Cycle featuring Nathan and James as well as the Icelandic sisters, string dream-team Sigrún Kristbjörg Jónsdóttir and Þórdís Gerður Jónsdóttir. Music video animated by Douglas Miller.

From “Like The River Loves The Sea” out August 30th, 2019

White Reaper Sign to Elektra Records, Release New Single "Might Be Right"

White Reaper, the raucous garage-punk band from Louisville, Ky., are back with an equally vivacious new single, “Might Be Right.” The Kentucky rockers have also announced that they are now signed to Elektra Records.

Vocalist/guitarist Tony Esposito recalls in a statement, “I remember seeing the big Elektra ‘E’ on the back of so many of my favorite Cars, Doors, Queen and Metallica records. I still can’t believe it.” Drummer Nick Wilkerson adds, “It’s awesome to be a part of a label with such rich history.”

In White Reaper’s new track, Esposito’s amplified vocals coincide with Nick Wilkerson’s turbulent beats, Sam Wilkerson’s pounding bass lines, Ryan Hater’s lively keyboard chords and Hunter Thompson’s dynamic electric guitar shreds. Elements of nu-disco and pop intermingle with the band’s signature garage-punk sound.

The official music video depicts each member performing with their respective instrument, A neon sign glistens, showcasing the White Reaper logo as rotating spotlights swirl around the band. Primary-colored backdrops and various split screen visuals are utilized throughout the video’s almost four minutes.

White Reaper’s latest single is their first new music release in two years. The group’s last LP, 2017’s The World’s Best American Band, reached critical acclaim, and featured tracks like “Judy French,” “Daisies,” “Eagle Beach” and its title track. 2015’s White Reaper Does It Again spawned fan-favorites like “Make Me Wanna Die” and “Sheila,” as they crafted their now well-renowned sound


When Joan Shelley performed with Wilco at New York’s Beacon Theatre this March, she stood huddled on the corner of the massive stage alongside collaborator Nathan Salsburg. Beneath Wilco’s elaborate backdrop of trees and foliage, the pair might have even appeared, from certain angles, as one body, their instruments (Salsburg on guitar, Shelley alternating between guitar and banjo), overlapping both physically and sonically. And if their tight knit music and cozy positioning on stage didn’t already indicate a sense of intimacy, Shelley closed the set—which highlighted tracks from her extraordinary new self-titled album—with a traditional folk song, sans accompaniment and sans microphone. As Shelley stepped to the front of the stage to sing “Darling Don’t You Know That’s Wrong,” the audience became a part of her small circle.

It was a fitting gesture from an artist who describes her music as “the quickest way from me to another person,” whose every word seems to be chosen as a way to cut through the chaos of daily life. “It’s coming to the people instead of people coming to you,” she says of the a capella performance: “As a singer, it’s asking more from my body in order to physically do it—to turn up what you’re doing, and step outside the barrier of technology.” It makes sense that Shelley sees technology as a hurdle and not a tool. As she’s evolved as a songwriter, her songs have become more unadorned and powerful. Her two previous records on Philadelphia label No Quarter—2014’s Electric Ursa and the following year’s Over and Even—each represented massive steps forward through the deeper refinement of her craft. If you carve out a place to listen, her music fills the space around you.

Shelley’s latest record is no different. Produced by Jeff Tweedy at his Loft Studio in Chicago, Joan Shelley widens her scope, focusing on more spacious songcraft. The first single, “Wild Indifference,” is built on a series of sustained, open chords that sound like sighs of relief. But the album also marks Shelley’s starkest, simplest work to date. Early in the writing process, she found herself inspired by the most primitive of folk tunes: recordings in which performers simply sang in unison with their instrument. “I started trying to be a more playful guitarist,” she says, citing the jokey songs of cult favorite folk artist Michael Hurley as a guiding light.

The musicians who accompany her on the record, including Salsburg as well as multi-instrumentalist James Elkington and drummer Spencer Tweedy, took a similar approach. The recordings are mostly first and second takes, just after Shelley introduced her band to the music. “They’re all excellent musicians who can feel the their way through the dark the first time through a song,” Shelley says. You can hear the collaborative energy in the music. “Where I’ll Find You” is one of the album’s most upbeat numbers: a deceptively simple song that ambles with a jazzy lightness. But deeper listens reveal complexities in the performance: Tweedy’s brush-stroked drums never find a steady pattern, looking to the cadence of Shelley’s vocals instead of the rhythm for guidance.


Shelley is quick to note the difference between “percussion” and “implied percussion,” meaning rhythms that are built into the music and not laid atop it. “I always hear percussion when we play,” Shelley says about her process with Salsburg, “The game is to just play the guitar while imagining the percussion, because spelling it out isn’t always the most interesting thing to me.” On the record, Tweedy seems to display an intuitive understanding of the concept as well; it might even take a few listens to the record before you start distinguishing which songs feature drums and which do not.

In this way, Shelley’s most collaborative album also stands as her subtlest and quietest. Like her performance at the Beacon Theatre, the process for writing these songs was one propelled by a sense of proximity and place. She had recently moved into a house in her native Louisville, Kentucky, just around the corner from Salsburg. Their closeness allowed their writing process to become more fruitful than ever, and Shelley found inspiration in her new home. “Certain houses, certain rooms,” she explains, “it’s the same way with instruments, you’re like ’There’s songs in this instrument.’ Even if it’s not the fanciest one.” The songs on Joan Shelley, while rarely making explicit references to her location, often take cues from the world around her. The opening number is called “We’d Be Home,” and it’s one of her most striking compositions. “See the morning light,” she sings, her warm fingerpicking intertwining seamlessly with Salsburg’s, “Gentle as it tries to make you new every morning.”

With its pensive tone and recurring themes of trust and self-preservation, Joan Shelley plays as a series of mantras whose power amplifies when put into practice. “How could you stand it,” she repeats in one of the album’s more ominous numbers, “if the storms never came?”  Shelley assures that all resemblances to the country’s political climate are coincidental. “It’s funny how some of it can be reread in that light now,” she says. “Our inner struggles are the same we’re playing out on a national level.”


While Shelley’s inspirations are based on more insular anxieties, she remains attuned to the pulse of the world. Shortly after Leonard Cohen’s death, she shared a gorgeous cover of his Various Positions track, “Heart With No Companion.” It seemed to really resonate with the times,” she says of his song, which warns of impending “days of shame” and “nights of wild distress.” But while Cohen’s version was featured on one of his most lavishly produced records, Shelley’s rendition is austere—even by her standards. “I wanted to cover that song so people could hear the words,” she explains, “And not be scared away by the crazy Casio keyboards.” In other words, she wanted to make it her own.

In the wake of Cohen’s final album, his death, and Trump’s election, Shelley found herself, like many Americans, in a state of—as Cohen might have put it—wild distress. “If that wasn’t the most dramatic record release, political event, and death of an artist,” she says sternly, “Then tell me another one.” She quietly shared her cover, and shortly after, considered abandoning the Internet all together. “It takes so much mental space once you’re in the feedback loop of posting and seeing and checking again,” she says, “It doesn’t make me feel good. The information’s not necessarily useful.” There’s something slightly anachronistic about hearing Shelley speak of the perils of social media, considering how the most modern technology referenced on her latest album might be a fireplace. But she sees in our times the same lesson she’s learned through her years of songwriting, the same hard-won serenity that her music reflects: to find the things that are most vital to you, to hold them close, and to know it’s enough.

Neil young cardinal stadium 1995 double lp gatefold 72221 1

The Classic 10th anniversary Farm Aid set from Neil Young. The anniversary concert was held at the Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, KY with Neil Young returning as headliner, as he has done almost every year since Farm Aid began. Young performed most of the Cardinal Stadium concert with minimal backing, accompanied only by Willie Nelson on guitar and Mickey Raphael on harmonica. Crazy Horse joined him for the two-track encore however, providing a full scale rock-out on which to complete proceedings. The period prior to the concert had been a busy time for Neil Young. He and Crazy Horse had produced the sombre Sleeps With Angels in 1994, dedicated to Kurt Cobain, who had committed suicide earlier that year. This was followed in June 1995 by Young’s collaboration with Pearl Jam, Mirror Ball, and in 95 too, Young was also recording the instrumental soundtrack for Jim Jarmusch s black and white western Dead Man, which saw general release on 10th May 1996. Young played a set that included numbers from across the man s career, although with emphasis on his 1970s output.

Neil Young with Crazy Horse The Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Oct 1st, 1995

Comes A Time , The Needle and The Damage, Mother Earth ,Four Strong Winds Helpless ,Heart Of Gold ,Sugar Mountain Country Home , Slip Away .  Farm Aid was started by Willie Nelson, Neil Young .

When her debut album At Weddings made a fleeting appearance on bandcamp late last year, we fell in love with Tomberlin‘s devastating “Self-Help“, an exquisite, achingly intimate inner devotional that was intensely moving and quietly powerful in a way that recalled Seven Swans-era Sufjan. At Weddings will see a proper release this week via Saddle Creek Records, and Tomberlin shares the gauzy Laura-Lynn Petrick-directed visuals for another beautiful, poignant gem from the record, “Any Other Way“.  At Weddings is out this Friday.

Tomberlin – “I’m Not Scared” From the album At Weddings – Out 10th August.

Saddle Creek Records are to release that very debut. It’s called At Weddingsand is due out 10th August. We’ve already gotten two great reasons why it should be on your radar, and now here’s yet another one.

Tomberlin’s new single “I’m Not Scared” is still very much of a piece with the previous ones we’ve heard. It’s a fairly somber track, but once again the voice of Sarah Beth Tomberlin is so striking in its emotive delicacy it’s hard not to get totally wrapped up in it. This song uses mostly piano to create a gorgeous thick layer of atmosphere with its hanging notes that lend to its even pace.

Of the song, Sarah Beth Tomberlin says “It is abrasive, heavy, but packaged delicately. I feel like many people view women as such — shrill and emotionally burdensome but responsible for consistently presenting themselves pleasantly. Gentle and affable – their warmth a tool to heal often with no regard for the state of the body and mind that warmth permeates from. Women, and especially queer, trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming people, have such a capacity for pain. Physical, mental, emotional, psychological pain. This is a hymn-like song in the way that it moves melodically. A reflection on that suffering. I didn’t realize the full meaning when I wrote it. The weight of the song didn’t hit me until I was listening to the final recording. It is kind of like leaving a person or situation that is really abusive and not realizing how much it affects your psyche until you’ve removed yourself completely. You look back and you realize you are strong, even though that is the last word you would use to describe how you feel.”


released August 10th, 2018

Credits: Music + lyrics by Sarah Beth Tomberlin 
Sarah Beth Tomberlin – guitar, Wurlitzer, vocals
Owen Pallett – guitar, Prophet 6, and background vocals
Produced, recorded, and mixed by Owen Pallett at M’s House + Owen’s House
Untitled 2 recorded on my phone
Album cover art by Sarah Beth Tomberlin 

Because the music is beautiful to me. Reminds me of Honey Tongue quite a bit, yet it is still a unique acoustic experience that rewards from repeated listening from beginning to end. I am basing my review on the White label that Joyful Noise Recordings released which contained several of the songs on this release.

On her deeply moving debut album At Weddings, Sarah Beth Tomberlin writes with the clarity and wisdom of an artist well beyond her years. Immeasurable space circulates within the album’s ten songs, which set Tomberlin’s searching voice against lush backdrops of piano and guitar. Like Julien Baker and Sufjan Stevens, she has a knack for transforming the personal into parable.

Sarah Beth comments, When I wrote a lot of these songs I never thought they would leave my bedroom. These songs are personal, but I think their themes are easily felt from person to person. I hope these songs can be there for you like they were for me when I was writing them. I am extremely excited to finally be able to share this record with you. My first full length record, ‘At Weddings,’ will be out on Saddle Creek Records on 8/10/18.


Releases August 10th, 2018

Credits: Music + lyrics by Sarah Beth Tomberlin 
Sarah Beth Tomberlin – guitar, Wurlitzer, vocals
Owen Pallett – guitar, Prophet 6, and background vocals
Produced, recorded, and mixed by Owen Pallett at M’s House + Owen’s House

Covers EP recorded February 2018 with guest appearances from Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Daniel Martin Moore, Julia Purcell, and Doug Paisley. Covering Nick Drake can be tricky, but Joan Shelley manages just fine with her gorgeous, heartfelt rendition of Five Leaves Left’s lead off track . She doesn’t do anything radical with the song — she just lets it breathe, wearing its wistful melancholy like a favorite winter coat. Joan Shelley is back on the road this year, for a few dates, she’ll be supporting the guy who played lead guitar on the original “Time Has Told Me” — the mighty Richard Thompson himself, who has been known to cover the tune from time to time. Maybe Joan can coax him onstage for a duet.

100% of sales from the EP on Bandcamp will go to the Kentucky Waterways Alliance. This exclusively digital album is also paired with a limited edition print set, whose proceeds also benefit the organization. The print sets were illustrated by Lettie Jane Rennekamp, and printed by Patrick Masterson Letterpress.

Sincere thanks to the musicians who volunteered their time and talent to this project. Also thank you Jessica George of RPM for coordinating and motivating, Lettie Jane Rennekamp for contributing her drawings and the title, Patrick Masterson Letterpress Printing, Catherine Irwin, Glen Dentinger, Mike Quinn, Jessica Kane, and everyone at the Kentucky Waterways Alliance for their vital work.

Released March 28, 2018

Drums – Sean Johnson 
Bass – John Pedigo (except track 1, Bass – Kevin Ratterman)
Guitars – Joan Shelley & Nathan Salsburg

All songs arranged by Joan Shelley 

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The World’s Best American Band, this Kentucky group’s devilishly catchy second full-length, opens with the roar of an approving crowd. It is not a live album, and this sounds like a large audience packed into an amphitheater, the sort of venue White Reaper might be headlining in a more excellent world. The song that emerges is sheer self-affirming cock-rock (“Rally up and dress to kill / Lace your boots and crush your pills”), a motivational speech for greasy-haired dirtbags.

Hi howdy! It’s Tony here, wanting to thank all of you guys and gals that we’ve seen at these last few dates, which have been absolutely incredible! And one more hello to all those who we’ll be seeing soon when we’re back on the road with our boys in Spoon! .In the meantime though, check out this video of us playing “The World’s Best American Band” in front of a live audience at the historic and beautiful Metro in Chicago!

“The World’s Best American Band” is taken from White Reaper’s second full-length album, The World’s Best American Band

On the album, White Reaper manage to distill all the strut and swagger of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town” into a pithy, 10-song set. The production is a bit clearer and less sludgy than on 2015’s White Reaper Does It Again, and the songs mark the quartet’s most confident collection to date. Two of them (“The World’s Best American Band” and “Little Silver Cross”) even hurtle past the four-minute mark.

“Judy French” is taken from White Reaper’s second full-length album, The World’s Best American Band, out April 7, 2017.

Tomberlin At Weddings Best Alt-Folk of 2017

There needs to be a word for “love at first sound,” because although rare, it has happened more than once over the years. And it’s always late at night, when I find myself scouring the internet in search of humanity. I found it in album by Lemolo Also on Kyle Morton at the end of sometime last year , and now in Tomberlin, as “You Are Here” softly announces, “I am here and nowhere else and you are all I want.” Musician Owen Pallett proudly calls this work, “absolutely the most beautiful record I’ve ever worked on,” which he contributed to, mastered and produced. It’s the product of a one Sarahbeth Tomberlin, from Louisville, Kentucky, and like the others on this list, she’s only a fifth of a century old. It echoes and sways, ebbs and flows, lingering long into the night and hopefully in the genre of ambient folk.