Sociable

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chuck Leavell at Bama Theatre


Chuck Leavell at Bama Theatre 


Alabama Music Office.com goes to the historic Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama to attend a performance by Chuck Leavell. I have attended several performances by Chuck Leavell. In my humble opinion this was his best performance. He seemed to enjoy every moment he spent on stage.
Chuck Leavell played a sold-out concert at the Bama Theatre almost four years ago. Since then, he has performed on both of John Mayer's newest CDs, acted in a Billy Bob Thornton movie in a scene with Robert Duvall, recorded and released a tribute CD to the pioneers of blues piano, written and published Growing a Better America about saving our environment, headlined the Blue's Stage at New Orleans Jazz Fest, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy for his years with the Allman Brothers Band and played 29 tour venues in three countries with the Rolling Stones.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gabriel Tajeu Interview


Gabriel Tajeu Interview


Alabama Music Office.com goes to Highland Music in Birmingham, Alabama to interview Gabriel Tajeu.

*Gabriel Tajeu-R&B Folk Rock Artist   by Jerry W. Henry
I met with Gabriel Tajeu at Highland Music for our interview. It was a convenient place for both of us to meet. His new album, Finding My Way, is getting lots of attention. I recently recorded him on video when he played for Secret Stages. The comments on YouTube tell us they think Gabriel is a renaissance man! His vocals are described as “Clarity, strength of voice. Nice, catchy rhythm.” In other words, folks like him.


Gabriel was raised in upstate New York but went to high school in Auburn, Alabama.  He went back up north for college but now calls Birmingham home. He grew up taking piano lessons and was in the band during high school. Gabriel came from a musical family. His mother plays piano and his brother plays trumpet and keyboards. His father is from Kenya;  has a distinctive voice. Gabriel did not start singing until he went to college.  He joined an acapella class on a whim but found he really could sing. He began to develop his voice then and guitar soon followed. That has led to him playing around town with the cover band, Bonus Round. That gig has lasted for almost 10 years now.

He has branched out and has been doing his own shows for the last couple of years. He released his first album last May. He has a direct approach to his songwriting.  He said, “I listen to a lot of different music.  When I compare my music to others, I don’t use as many fancy metaphors and similes. I think my style is more conversational. It comes from a place that says this is what it is and this is how I was feeling. There is something to be said about simplicity. With some of my lyrics I manage to convey an emotion or feeling or a time in my life without directly saying it. I have come to appreciate my more stripped down style of songwriting. I am working on some music right now that is a little more poetic in some ways. The content in Finding My Way is poetic by nature because the songs represent what I was going through. I think other people can relate to that. The next album that I am working on have a  few lines in there that I think people are going to say ‘Oh that’s a great line!”

Gabriel calls his music “R&B Folk Rock” because it is not quite R&B. He uses all live instruments and is heavy on the drums, electric guitar and bass. His vocal delivery, the harmonies and the underlying cord structures are from traditional R&B. He says, “There is a little bit of everything, it’s music! Like I said about the songwriting, it’s something people can relate to, it’s easy, it’s out there, but it’s advanced in the sense that I’ve got incredible musicians playing.  The song structure isn’t as typical as verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse, chorus.  There is more depth to the actual cord structure. That’s how I describe my own music.”

Those incredible musicians that played on his album, Finding My Way, were Mark Lanter who plays drums and helped Gabriel polish some of his songs. Allen Barlow (Homewood School of Music owner) on guitar. Matt Slocum plays keys. He used 6 different bass players Sean Michael Ray, Beau Treadwell, Abe Becker, Luke Reynolds  Jaron Olevski and Gary Justiss. The horns featured Chad Fisher on trombone, Gary Wheat on tenor Sax, Ledama Tajeu (his brother) on trumpet. Additional musicians were Matt Wiley on piano, David Crenshaw on percussion, Sam Pointer on guitar and Bethany Borg Martin on violin. Finding My Way was recorded at AudioState 55 in Woodlawn and engineered by James Bevelle.  He tells me about James, “Incredible! He brought my music to life. He helped polish things up.” He adds, “Really everybody that has been involved in this since day one has been phenomenal musicians or phenomenal at their craft whether it be playing or recording.  I am very blessed to have been associated with all those phenomenal people. I had other friends that gave input and help me develop ideas.”

Where does he see the future for himself? He answered, “I really see myself going and playing a lot of live shows. I would like to get in front of as many people as I can. The music lends its self to festivals as more than half the album is up-tempo, but also lends its self to coffee shops. More toward listening environments because we can take the instruments on the album and strip them down to just a couple of people. Some of the songs are slower songs that you can really vibe out and feel some emotions. I just want to get out there and play. I want to have as many people to listen to my music as possible.”

Gabriel tells me, “I write these songs because I am connecting with myself. There is something that I have to say. There is something that I have to put out there. In creating that, you create a connection with other people. You hope that they will get what you are saying and hope they will feel that way. When I hear a song on the radio and it touches me I know that someone gave that song to me. So as a musician I feel it is my responsibility to give that back. As a musician I have been blessed with certain talents. If can sing a song that helps somebody it’s my responsibility to do so. I have gotten twitter message all the way from Japan.  I have people from Japan that resonate with this album. It’s beautiful to see the music crosses all kinds of boundaries. At the end of the day you are connecting with people and exploring our emotions. We have to do that as a society.”
     
Gabriel Tajeu’s Finding My Way is available from all major outlets, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify or his website where he will have more merchandise soon.

*This interview was published in the December 2013 Issue of The Leaf

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

J.K. Terrell CD Release Party at Rhythm and Brews


J.K. Terrell CD Release Party at Rhythm and Brews


Alabama Music Office.com goes to Rhythm and Brews in downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama to attend J.K. Terrell's CD Release Party.

*J.K. Terrell-New Wrinkle  by Jerry W. Henry

I can't remember when I first met J.K. Terrell. Maybe it was when he was playing behind Johnny Shines or when I helped record Lost In The Mail. It could have been when he played with Beanland or the John Kilzer Band. Regardless our friendship goes way back.

I have always known J.K. as a percussionist and blues harp player. He is a seasoned, road-tested and proven musician. When he told me a couple of years ago that he was going to fulfill his dream to cut an album, I encouraged him. I assumed it would be an instrumental album or someone else would be the vocalist.

He has never been a vocalist and that part of the recording process scared him. But J.K. was determined to deliver what had been churning in his brain for years. The only alternative was for him to learn to sing. He brought in the best vocal coach in this part of the country. I let them use my studio and after weeks of coaching, he was ready to record.

I am not going to tell you that J.K. Terrell is the world's greatest singer. What I am going to tell you is he won't be embarrassed by the vocals on his album. His vocals are heartfelt, filled with emotion and really good clarity. His project proves you can teach an old dog a new trick.

J.K. wasn't looking to be compared to other artists.  He knew recreating music is more effective than creating it.  He also knows this usually produces recordings that are only satisfactory -- the sound is familiar and well performed, but lacks anything that demands attention. J.K.'s formula was to deliver the sounds that have been churning in his head all these years.

His album is appropriately titled, New Wrinkle, since J.K. is now receiving his social security check every month. He recently retired from the University of Alabama School of Social Work. New Wrinkle was recorded at Southern Breeze Studios in Tuscaloosa. It was engineered & mixed by John Kliner and mastered by Joey Laycock. The musicians for the project are Jason Speegle-guitars, Bruce Hopper-bass, John Kilner-drums, Matt Slocum-keyboards and NotSoSlim & Jann McCutchen Simpson-background vocals.

Though the disc stays true to roots music, it features a wide range of styles and rhythms. From the Chicago-flavored "Blues Had a Baby" to the Ry Cooder beat of "Down in Hollywood" to Scott Boyer's "Don't Hit Me" to the Jay Z/Hugo-inspired "99 Problems" each song expresses a unique personality.

My favorites was the album's only original, "Right Outside" and the cover of Tom Waits "Jockey Full of Bourbon." Another couple of great choices are Wet Willie's Jimmy Hall's "Rendezvous with the Blues" and Slim Harpo's "I Want To Be With You Tonight." Repeating myself, the songs are diverse, and fit perfectly to the record.

New Wrinkle is a southern blues album that grabs you from the beginning and holds you until the end. This album has a well-rounded selection of songs that feature J.K.'s great harmonica and percussion playing; no overplaying or dominating. New Wrinkle is a well-balanced album through out.
New Wrinkle can be purchased at CD Baby and Amazon and locally at some independent record stores.
*Published in November 2013 edition of The Leaf

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Jason Isbell in Birmingham, Alabama


Jason Isbell in Birmingham, Alabama 

Alabama Music Office.com goes to Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham, Alabama to attend a performance by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, headlining for the Revival Music Festival. Revival Music Fest was on Saturday, August 24th 2013 at Railroad Park with music acts; The CO, Elenowen, Leagues, The Apache Relay, The Dirty Guv'nahs, Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors and Jason Isbell!  Food trucks were on-site so folks enjoy some of Birmingham's finest culinary offerings!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Venue Owners and You, the Musician! By Jerry W. Henry


    Venue Owners and You, the Musician!   By Jerry W. Henry

In this part of the country the responsibility for promoting a gig rests on the bands shoulders. This really makes no sense to me. To my way of thinking the venue owner’s ultimate goal should be to build a fan base for their venue. To get people that will trust that you will have good music in your venue every night.

 There seems to me to be too much at stake for venue owners not to be truly interested in the music presented in their venue. They know that live music is important to the demographic that they are trying to reach. They need to reach out to that demographic in a professional way. When a venue owner only thinks about how many people a band can bring to their venue puts them in a never-ending cycle. You are gambling on each band doing their job as promoters. How effective this system is depends on each band.


Fact is people follow bands, not the venue. Bands that come to your venue and play their very best is all that should be expected of a band but we all know better. To my way of thinking, show promotion is a shared responsibility between band and venue. The band knows that without a performance, there would be no money coming into the venue in the first place. But remember just because a venue has live music every night doesn't mean the music pulls in the crowd. Musicians and venue owners need to find a common ground of mutual respect, professionalism, and measured expectation.

There is a very interesting dynamic between venues and musicians. Bands look to increase their following by sharing their music with the people who love it and those who will come to love it. Venues seek great shows with bigger audiences and more sales. There’s definitely a responsibility on both ends to do more for the other and while I think many local venues and artists understand that now, that bond can be strengthened.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Larry and The Loafers at Kelly Ingram VFW in downtown Birmingham



Larry and The Loafers at Kelly Ingram VFW in downtown Birmingham


Alabama Music Office.com goes to Kelly Ingram VFW in downtown Birmingham, Alabama to attend a performance by Larry and The Loafers.

Larry Parker has been rockin' since 1956, when he first appeared onstage at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham for Jim Lucas's Teen Time Talent Search. Jim Lucas, a DJ at the famous teenage hotspot, the Skycastle, located at Eli's Drive-In, told Larry then that groups were hot at the time, so after his solo performance, Larry organized his first of several doo-wop groups. This first and most notable of these acts was the 'Swing'n Teens'. Appearances by Larry along with Rodney Richmond, Wayne Russell, and Tommy Clements on television and stage, and their voices being heard on radio commercials, backed by the Nomads, gave them recognition as Birmingham's hottest vocal group at the time. The commercial for Liberty Trousers 'Skeet Pants' entitled "Skeets Are Neat, Little Mama" was so popular that records were sold at the radio stations that played it. The 'Swing'n Teens' sang hit songs of the day made popular by such vocal groups as Danny and the Juniors, the Midnighters, the Del-Vikings, and the Diamonds. Any song that was popular, they learned to perform with perfect harmony. Larry, an innovative student at Woodlawn High School, had organized a talent show that shocked the teachers and the principal - when his group sang "Little Girl of Mine" and "Come Go with Me". When the students began clapping and shouting with approval, Larry's group was told to leave the auditorium. Rock 'n Roll had indeed arrived at Woodlawn. A summer job as a disc jockey at WIXI AM-1480 radio in Irondale gave Larry access to the studio and recording equipment after hours. Larry, along with guitarist Hal Painter and a couple of friends, borrowed two guitars and amps and a part of a set of drums, and here on a late summer night Larry wrote and recorded his soon-to-be hit "Panama City Blues". The station played the song on the air the next day and the teenagers loved it. When Larry needed a label to release "Panama City Blues" on, Mr. Homer Milam allowed Larry to release it on his own local Reed label because, as Mr. Milam said, "It's a hit!". With the release of "Panama City Blues" in the summer of 1960, Larry formed the group called 'Larry and the Loafers'. The group was comprised of local multi-talented musicians - among them Charles Giambrone on vocals, bass, trumpet, guitar, piano, and drums. Charles later performed with 'Bob Cain and the CainBreakers' and also had his own group - 'Just Friends'. The Loafers' drummer was Dale Serrano, another multi-talented local who brought his dance and show background to the group. Wayne Gross on guitar, saxophone, and clarinet and Johnny Nations on piano and vocals rounded out the band. Many of Birmingham's top musicians served a stint as members of the Loafers over the years and have added to the legend and mystique of 'Larry and the Loafers'. In 1983, after a midnight phone call from Dale Serrano, the idea to have a Rock 'n Roll reunion for Birmingham local bands was born. In June of that year, the Boutwell Auditorium was the scene of "The Rock 'n Roll Reunion", Birmingham's best live in-person stage show ever. Performing artists included Sammy Salvo, Henry Lovoy, the Rockin' Rebellions, the Premiers, the RamRods, the Nomads, Rooster and the Townsmen, and others - headlined by Larry and the Loafers - all encouraged and promoted by the legendary Duke Rumore, Birmingham's godfather of Rock 'n Roll. Larry Parker, as Larry and the Loafers, has recorded on Heart Records, Ed Boutwell Studios in Birmingham, with musicians Ronnie Eades, Barry Beckett, Glen Lane, and the 'Roulettes', Bill Lowery and Master Sounds Studio in Atlanta where he wrote and recorded "Let's Go to the Beach" (co-written by Emery Gordy who later produced for the group Alabama and played with the Atlanta band 'St. John and the Cardinals', and Fame Recording Studio in Memphis with producer Sonny Limbo where he joined the 'Hombres', Booker T. Jones, and the 'Memphis Strings' and recorded "Sunshine" and "Paper Man". Larry, as of this date is alive and well, and is stage-bound with a new 'Larry and the Loafers' band on the "More to Follow Rock 'n Roll Tour". Larry has been a longtime member of the Birmingham Record Collectors and is always good for one of his million fascinating stories about his life in music and performing. He is truly appreciated for the fond musical memories he has created for his vast listening audience of fans and is truly loved by all of us who are lucky enough to know him personally. It is most deserving that our Larry Parker be honored as an inductee into the 2006 Class of the BRC Music Hall of Fame. - See more at: http://alabamamusicoffice.com/artists-a-z/p/866-parker-larry-larry-and-the-loafers#sthash.omA1mY1p.dpuf

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tommy Gardner and Patti Townsend at Kentuck Festival



Tommy Gardner and Patti Townsend at Kentuck Festival


Alabama Music Office.com goes to Kentuck Festival at Kentuck Park in Northport, Alabama to attend a performance by Tommy Gardner and Patti Townsend.

Below is part of an interview I did with Patti Townsend which was published in the Planet Weekly in 2007.

You are best known for performing with Tommy Gardner. When did you and Tommy get together? 
I would sit in with Tommy back in the 80's. In 1993 Barbara (Norlin Grimes) and I did an oldies band called Peer Review with Brian Chandler, Bill Cole, Lee Foster, and Frank Morris. We got to do CityFest with that band. Even while I was with Peer Review I was gigging with Tommy. I was with Peer Review for 4 years and then I went full time with Tommy. It's been great. With Tommy's improvisational style I have learned a lot about being in the moment. Reacting off of each other, reading his mind, getting a sense of really listening, doing things off the cuff. That's been great for me. He's like my brother and I feel so lucky to have a special musical relationship with him.

Can you tell us something that everyone needs to know about Tommy?
Nobody cares about a chord more than Tommy. Nobody cares about chord progressions or a different feel to something than Tommy. He is  searching for the perfect sound in everything he does. Tommy is consumed with that. He lives his music. It's so much a part of him. I have always been lucky to work with people that are better than I am. I have loved learning from people like Kenny Smitherman, Joe Rudd and Tommy. I have been blessed to have worked with Tuscaloosa's best. I've worked with Steve Sample, Jr., a excellent drummer. Buddy Martin, and Steve Jones with the Jazz Babies, both great players. I got to work with sax man Steve Black, Fred DeLoch, Tommy Sorrells, Greg Staggs, and Roy Potter which was one of the original members of the Litiers. Roy's back in town and doing a CD of the old Tuscaloosa greats.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Donnie Miller and Rude Awakening at MidTown Village in Tuscaloosa, Alabama


Donnie Miller and Rude Awakening at MidTown Village in Tuscaloosa, Alabama


Alabama Music Office.com goes to MidTown Village for their Music On The Green Concert Series in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We went there to attend a performance by Donnie Miller and Rude Awakening Blues Band. Donnie Miller is founder and CEO at The National BLUES Network and is a Booking Agent. He books touring Blues bands in Alabama. Backing Donnie is Johnny Dalton on drums and Willie Bee on bass. They play Diamonds Sports Bar in Huntsville often.
It only takes one time hearing Nashville's Donnie Miller & Rude Awakening to hear the effects of lead singer Donnie Miller's lifelong training. Honing his vocals in church beginning at the age of 4, Donnie left home at 18 years old and toured the U.S. for 15 years before signing with SONY Records for his 1990 debut album, "ONE OF THE BOYS", with Cyndi Lauper & Tommy Shaw making guest appearances on backing vocals. Donnie began playing the blues in 1992, discovering just where he belongs in the music world. The current lineup of Donnie Miller and Rude Awakening has been touring and recording together for the last 7 years. With an incredible rhythm section behind him, scorching guitar solos & "from the soul" vocals burning through, this group pulls an audience up onstage with them and is a valuable crowd-pleasing entertainment option for ANY blues-focused venue or festival!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Belle Adair at Kentuck Festival


Belle Adair at Kentuck Festival


Alabama Music Office.com goes to Kentuck Festival at Kentuck Park in Northport, Alabama to attend a performance by Belle Adair.

Press for The Brave and the Blue:
"...here in Alabama, there are bands like Belle Adair doing this kind of dreamy sound that has a connection to roots music but isn't directly derivative...It fits in really nicely with the new South sound."

— NPR Music

"Belle Adair's shifting, ambient music reveals a diversity of influence and an unwillingness to be pigeonholed. Deft navigation between existential grappling and lulling instrumentals is a trademark of the group's ambition: sophistication without pretension. The Brave and the Blue is a promising debut that leaves us looking forward to more."

---The Oxford American

"The Brave and the Blue glows with a deep, dusky aura. It's an ambitious collection of genre-straddling tunes"

---Spin

"The sweetness of Matt Green's voice carries echoes of Jeff Tweedy. The band, too, are like Wilco when the roots were still showing, with flashes of The Byrds and a note of country sadness."

— Uncut (8 out of 10)

"The Brave and the Blue packs a hefty punch. It's filled with songs that are brimming with sincerity and emotionality that's embellished with rich instrumentation and atmosphere."

---Paste

"The band's full-length debut The Brave and the Blue is chilled out, cosmic and expansive, like Sea Change-era Beck or post-Summerteeth Wilco."

---Nashville Scene

Press for the EP:

"This is Spartan-but-sophisticated pop music grounding itself with acoustic strings, harmonium, pedal steel guitar, and precise harmonies, yet never indulging the clich├ęs of Americana, country rock, or freak folk. Most of the music suits a lazy Sunday morning, but if called upon this group can rock in the manner of The Band and Tom Petty—something involving swirling organ riffs and, again, envy-inducing harmonies."

---David Pelfrey, Black & White (Birmingham, AL)

Monday, November 4, 2013

J.K. Terrell-New Wrinkle


I can’t remember when I first met J.K. Terrell. Maybe it was when he was playing behind Johnny Shines or when I helped record Lost In The Mail. It could have been when he played with Beanland or the John Kilzer Band. Regardless our friendship goes way back.
I have always known J.K. as a percussionist and blues harp player. He is a seasoned, road-tested and proven musician. When he told me a couple of years ago that he was going to fulfill his dream to cut an album, I encouraged him. I assumed it would be an instrumental album or someone else would be the vocalist.
He has never been a vocalist and that part of the recording process scared him. But J.K. was determined to deliver what had been churning in his brain for years. The only alternative was for him to learn to sing. He brought in the best vocal coach in this part of the country. I let them use my studio and after weeks of coaching, he was ready to record.
I am not going to tell you that J.K. Terrell is the world’s greatest singer. What I am going to tell you is he won’t be embarrassed by the vocals on his album. His vocals are heartfelt, filled with emotion and really good clarity. His project proves you can teach an old dog a new trick.
J.K. wasn’t looking to be compared to other artists.  He knew recreating music is more effective than creating it.  He also knows this usually produces recordings that are only satisfactory – the sound is familiar and well performed, but lacks anything that demands attention. J.K.’s formula was to deliver the sounds that have been churning in his head all these years.
His album is appropriately titled, New Wrinkle, since J.K. is now receiving his social security check every month. He recently retired from the University of Alabama School of Social Work. New Wrinkle was recorded at Southern Breeze Studios in Tuscaloosa. It was engineered & mixed by John Kliner and mastered by Joey Laycock. The musicians for the project are Jason Speegle-guitars, Bruce Hopper-bass, John Kilner-drums, Matt Slocum-keyboards and NotSoSlim & Jann McCutchen Simpson-background vocals.
Though the disc stays true to roots music, it features a wide range of styles and rhythms. From the Chicago-flavored "Blues Had a Baby" to the Ry Cooder beat of "Down in Hollywood" to Scott Boyer’s "Don’t Hit Me" to the Jay Z/Hugo-inspired "99 Problems" each song expresses a unique personality.
My favorites was the album’s only original, “Right Outside” and the cover of Tom Waits “Jockey Full of Bourbon.” Another couple of great choices are Wet Willie’s Jimmy Hall’s “Rendezvous with the Blues” and Slim Harpo’s “I Want To Be With You Tonight.” Repeating myself, the songs are diverse, and fit perfectly to the record.
New Wrinkle is a southern blues album that grabs you from the beginning and holds you until the end. This album has a well-rounded selection of songs that feature J.K.’s great harmonica and percussion playing; no overplaying or dominating. New Wrinkle is a well-balanced album through out.
New Wrinkle can be purchased at CD Baby and Amazon and locally at some independent record stores.

 This article published in the November 2013 Issue of The Leaf