Category Archives: CD Reviews

Back to Normal & Beyond – Album Review

April 24, 2018; Fair Lawn, NJ: Renowned live concert photographer Vernon Webb, whose countless images of rock stars have been prized for decades, is coming out from behind the camera to center stage as he is set to release his own compilation of original songs. What fans are quickly learning is that Vernon Webb is so much more than an accomplished live music photog but he is also a Singer/Songwriter with over 20 years of original material waiting to be heard. Webb’s initial work, “Back To Normal & Beyond,” is five songs, and features the musicality of an all star group of Vernon’s long time friends. The musicians helping him launch his career as a solo artist include:

Michael Falzarono (New Riders of the Purple Sage, Hot Tuna) on guitar,
Ronnie Penque (New Riders of the Purple Sage, Melvin Seals & JGB) on bass guitar,
Anastasia René; backing vocals,
Sandra Williams (Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings); backing vocals,
Ben Wilson (Blues Traveler) on keyboards,
World famous banjo player Tony Trischka,
Aaron Comes (Spin Doctors) on drums
Peter Roberts on bass,
Mike Flynn on lead and slide,
Pappy Biondo (Cabinet) on banjo,
Vin Warner on upright bass,
Sean Schulich on flute,
Kind Bud Johnson on acoustic guitar,
AJ Santana on Cajun and drums, and
Wes Fahringer on bass
Webb says “As a music photographer I got to meet many of my musical idols and thought, how cool would it be to have some of them playing on my tracks? I threw caution to the wind and reached out and was blown away by the support I received. I am more than honored for each and every one that has helped me in this endeavor.”

The songs are great, and from the soulful country ballad “Every Now & Then,” to the Americana tracks and the frolicking rocker “Got 2 Reasons”, “Back To Normal & Beyond” covers lots of musical ground. The strong vocals, powerful lyrics, and inspired guitar of Webb are well known to attendees of his solo acoustic concerts,and are mightily added to by Vernon’s cast of friends in a recording environment.

“These songs have been with me for a long time. Most were written over the past twenty years. I have seen them as my children and they are now all grown and ready to go out into the world on their own.”

Although Vernon is well known as a photographer, and his best contacts are rock idols and now musical collaborators, there is a unique plan to market “Back To Normal & Beyond.” A song per month will be released through Vernon’s website, starting end April ‘18. Those that sign up for his newsletter will receive free downloads of individual tracks. The entire CD is currently scheduled to be released and available for purchase October 2018.

Watch out for many more Vernon Webb original recordings, and to always be in the know as to where you can see his solo acoustic sets sign up for his e-mail list here: vernonwebb.com And don’t rule out some friends from joining in!!

www.VernonWebb.com
www.Facebook.com/TheMusicAndPhotographyOfVernonWebb

Contact:
VernonWebbMusic@gmail.com
201-703-1232

Light of Day/Dark of Night – Album Review

Light of Day/Dark of Night
Pat Ferguson
Writer: Amber Jennings

With musicians coast to coast dipping their toes in American Roots music and dosing the airwaves with an onslaught of hipsters sporting acoustic guitars and crooning out their fractured melodies it can be arduous to find an artist who digs deeper into their being to pull out something greater than a whimsical tune played at the local coffee chain. Pat Ferguson (The Smokin’ Bandits) is that rare light shining through the darkness of generic Americano. The Wisconsin based performer has emerged as a renowned and nationally recognized solo artist and released this first full-length solo effort, “Light of Day/Dark of Night” on LoHi Records and it is brilliant.

The album produced by Adam Greuel of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades features guest appearances by Jacob Jolliff (Yonder Mountain String Band), Kyle Keegan (Ben Howard), Kenny Leiser (Wheelhouse), Chad Staehly (Hard Working Americans & Great American Taxi), Sarah Vos (Dead Horses) and Samual Odin (Horseshoes & Hand Grenades).

As you dive into the “Intro” and submerge into, “Howl” you know you have found something amazing. The spacious auroric sound of Odin on the bowed bass sweeps through Leiser’s violin and strings. The reflection of the vulnerability of human connection is beautifully woven with Ferguson and Vos on vocals.

“The Night”, shivers into the landscape of an amalgam of Appalachian and American Roots it is a kaleidoscope of folk music featuring Jolliff (mandolin), Greuel (vocals, boots and hands), Leiser (fiddle, vocals, boots and hands) and Odin (upright bass, boots and hands).

The warm sensation burrowing into the mind of summer twilight fluttering between bowed bass and violin in “From Me to You” is breathtaking. The compilation of artistry colors ones memories with beauty. Staehly adds an extra dimension on piano.

“Part II” baths you in light, the bowed bass blends gently with fiddle letting the space become an invitation to get lost in the magnificent sound. Ferguson intertwines lyrics into an ethos of Americano that is untouched.

The gentle pulsing intro of “Fuel the Tide”, spins a tapestry of lyrics and instruments before pitching you into a rather honky-tonk number, “Blind”.

The final song, “I Won’t Forget You”, is linear and sparse braiding with just Ferguson, Leiser and Odin seamlessly together.

Ferguson kicks off his summer tour on May 16, 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin. For additional tour dates please click here.

Intro – P. Ferguson

Howl – Pat Ferguson (Acoustic Guitars, Vocals); Kenny Leiser (Violin, Strings); Samual Odin (Bowed & Upright Bass); Sarah Vos (Vocals)

The Night – Pat Ferguson (Acoustic Guitars, Vocals, Boots & Hands); Adam Greuel (Vocals, Boots & Hands); Jacob Jolliff (Mandolin); Kenny Leiser (Fiddle, Vocals, Boots & Hands); Samual Odin (Upright Bass, Boots & Hands)

From Me to You – Pat Ferguson (Acoustic Guitar, Vocals); Kenny Leiser (Violin, Strings);
Samual Odin (Upright and Bowed Bass, Strings); Chad Staehly (Piano); Sara Vos (Vocals)

Part II – Pat Ferguson (Acoustic Guitars, Vocals); Adam Greuel (Vocals); Jacob Jolliff (Mandolin); Kenny Leiser (Fiddle, Vocals, Strings); Samual Odin (Upright and Bowed Bass, Strings); Sarah Vos (Vocals)

Fuel The Tide – Pat Ferguson (Acoustic Guitars, Vocals); Kenny Leiser (Fiddle, Vocals);
Samual Odin (Upright Bass)

Blind – Pat Ferguson (Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Vocals); Adam Greuel (Vocals); Kyle Keegan (Drums); Kenny Leiser (Fiddle, Vocals); Samual Odin (Upright Bass); Chad Staehly (Piano and Organ)

I Won’t Forget You – Pat Ferguson (Acoustic Guitar, Vocals); Kenny Leiser (Violin, Strings, Vocals); Samual Odin (Bowed Bass, Strings)

Please Be With Me (digital only)

Let the Steel Play: Andy Hall and Roosevelt Collier

Andy Hall and Roosevelt Collier:  Let the Steel Play
Writer:  Kyler Klix

Not many musicians make a career out of the slide guitar, so music fans get a real treat with Let the Steel Play, the forthcoming album  from Andy Hall (Infamous Strindusters) and Roosevelt Collier (the Lee Boys). The result is music so beautiful, you could imagine angels in heaven playing steel guitar instead of harps. Continue reading Let the Steel Play: Andy Hall and Roosevelt Collier

Mountain Ride: Time to Roll

The last few years have been mighty good for string bands.  There has an been an outbreak of younger, progressive bands mining the rich vein of bluegrass and a renaissance of traditional legends releasing some of the best albums of their long, rich careers.  This has all combined to create a great time to be into bluegrass, string-band, and old-timey music. Continue reading Mountain Ride: Time to Roll

Keller Williams KWahtro – SYNC

Keller Williams KWahtro – SYNC
Writer: Josh Mintz

There’s not a lot Keller Williams hasn’t done from a sonic standpoint. For a guy who mostly made his bones as a solo artist, he’s done bluegrass, he’s done dub, he’s done a children’s album, and he’s had lord knows however many iterations of bands throughout his career. Each project generally includes a new cast of characters, and SYNC is the first album from a 2015 project, KWahtro, a band that features longtime Williams collaborator Gibb Droll (guitar), Rodney Holmes (drums) and Danton Boller (bass).

Williams bills KWahtro as “acoustic dance music,” which is an apt description – SYNC listens like an extension of what Williams does on his own. However, the additional players on the record allow the music to bridge out a little more than possible with pre-recorded loops; there’s just more freedom with a human being driving the ship.

“Hategreedlove” is a standout track on the recording. Holmes provides a dark, brooding bass line that’s augmented by a string section (provided by The Accidentals).
Fans of Williams’ token lyrical silliness won’t be disappointed, as the album includes tracks like “Missing Remote” and “Ripped 6-Pack,” the former providing one of the stronger musical performances from Droll and Holmes.

KWahtro really stretches out, though, on “In the Middle.” It showcases the musical depth of the group, and the places that they can go when all four players are speaking the same musical language.
SYNC doesn’t exactly break any new musical ground. For a guy like Williams, who’s had his fingers in so many musical pies, that’s hard to do at this point. But, those who like what Williams has been doing for decades are going to dig this – there are just a few more faces on stage.

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Jimmy Landry: Sing Your Own Song

Piano man Jimmy Landry had a novel problem when adding his new release, Sing Your Own Song, to iTunes. What genre is fitting for a record with such a wide berth of styles and influences?

It’s not a bad problem to have, and it is validated given just one spin through the album’s 10 accessible, piano-driven tracks that tap into a world where heart and soul are on full display. Kicking off with “Where the Love Is,” Landry demonstrates a fine-tuned approach and a deft ear for textured orchestration, particularly when the track’s funky keys give way to a reggae groove. He assumes Todd Snider-like spoken word above an achingly upbeat piano melody on “Let’s Get Together,” and takes a lounge-y approach to the heartbreak of “Proved Me Wrong.” Regardless of the lyrical subject matter, the compositions roll with a playfulness that is kissed by the sun and salt air of his coastal South Carolina home.

Sing Your Own Song marks Landry’s first release since his 2008 debut, New Day, and he delivers in spades when it comes to both style and execution. And about that genre problem? Who really cares. Sing Your Own Song is truly difficult to categorize, and that is its strength.

Sing Your Own Song is self-released and out now. Buy it here!

The Travelin’ Kine: Change In The Wind

It would be perfectly understandable for those not in the know to believe that country music is dead. In the mainstream, it has felt this way for the better part of the last three decades. But the sparks of a few real songwriters – with influences like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard – are building to a full-blown fire. And while Jamey Johnson, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton, are leading the charge, there are upstarts in cities around the country who are kicking up true country songs filled with the sweat and grit of yesterday. One of them is The Travelin’ Kine.

These troubadours from Charleston, South Carolina, have now delivered their first album, entitled Change in the Wind, and although the title and title track don’t necessarily allude to the current state of country music, it seems apropos given the emergence of musicians that harken back to the good old days of the genre. And the band delivers an eight-song set that is straight-talking, compositionally adept, and soaked in spirits from some backwoods still.

“Change in the Wind,” written on the day frontman Slaton Glover’s divorce papers were signed and he dedicated his life to music, rides the brisk rhythm section of bassist Brent Poulson and drummer Jim Donnelly, giving momentum to his yearning. “I’m Not As Smart As You Look” spotlights Glover’s clever wordplay with sinewy lead guitar from Scottie Frier, “I Hate You” is a scornful wish for a former lover, and “Bad Bad Man” is a roadhouse rally cry accented by flourishes of harmonica and mandolin, courtesy of Mark Davis and David Vaughan, respectively.

At the heart of the album’s eight tracks is Glover’s adept songwriting. There are no frills here, and that is just right.
The Travelin’ Kine are yet another new voice in a country music chorus that is growing louder, and if there is such a thing as “real” country music today, it can be found on Change in the Wind.

Change in the Wind is independently released and out now.