Category Singer-songwriters

Leaving Traces and Circles Around The Sun: Farewell Neal Casal (1968-2019)

Neal Casal was a multi-tasking, multi-genre musical threat: a fine singer, composer, and detail-oriented storyteller; a fluid and lyrical lead player as well as bedrock-solid rhythm guitarist; and an unassuming personality who proved a versatile sideman and good-natured complement to the legends and stars in the spotlight.

A LATE BLOOMER IN FULL FLOWER: Becoming Asa Brebner (1953-2019)

“I don’t believe in God, but I believe in music and sharing that with other people. That’s kind of my religion. If I have a religion, that’s what it is.”
— Asa Brebner

SECRET WINDFALLS & DIAMONDS DOWN THE DRAIN: The Vinyl Skyway’s Long Cool Journey

Time always seemed to stand still whenever one of The Vinyl Skyway’s songs would crackle to life on the radio inside my parents’ car on a cold-as-chrome winter’s afternoon. I remember being 14 and hunched toward the gleaming dashboard dial as if receiving a secret transmission. There was always something inviting, if somehow slightly baleful, […]

A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock & Roll: Whiskeytown, Uncle Tupelo, and the Torched Twang of Americana

Despite its recent arrival as a charted radio format, Americana is nothing new. In fact, its very existence is predicated on the past. Rock & roll has always been an untidy bastard — rooted as much in outlaw country as it is in backporch blues or jukejoint R&B. Just listen to early Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, or Chuck Berry.

A ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD: Tom Petty, 1950-2017

He became a stadium superstar in later years, but Tom Petty’s early, brilliant records of underdog striving were what got us (and many other kids tuned in to their radios during the ’70s) hooked. Our appreciation of the man on what would have been his 67th birthday Friday.

CHRIS BELL’S PURE POP COSMOS: Big Star’s Other Bright Light

News that a biography and at least three vinyl compilations of the work of Big Star co-founder Chris Bell are coming out this year — including “The Complete Chris Bell,” a massive six-LP (!) retrospective due July 7 by Omnivore Recordings (the same folks who’ve issued some tasty Big Star releases in recent years, including […]

BROKEN BISCUITS & A STROKE OF LUCK: How Corin Ashley Picked Up The Pieces To Assemble The Most Challenging Music Of His Life, and Made Himself Whole Again

“Then, on January 6, 2016, an awful thing most 40-somethings like Ashley don’t ever think about happening – because it would be too awful to ponder – happened. Corin suffered a stroke that paralyzed the playing fingers of his left hand and all but wiped out his vocal cords in one felling swoop. Suddenly, just like that, from a hospital bed far away from the stages he had stood on since he was a teenager in cover bands, Ashley didn’t know if he’d ever speak again, much less sing or play. “

TIME CAPSULES WITH TAPE HEADS: Filling The Road Trip Memory Tank With The Gaslight Anthem

My collection of music tapes have now taken on properties purer and more powerful than the mere music they contained: They’ve banded together to become an immortal, indispensable, untouchable part of my personal cosmos of memory and experience. It’s music that drove a landmark road trip, played through it, came from it, and helped to define it.

REGARDING THE END: Life, Death, and The Wondrous World of Robert Fisher’s Willard Grant Conspiracy

Robert Fisher’s Willard Grant Conspiracy conjure a mostly deserted world of long, lingering shadows where guys like Nick Cave and Mark Eitzel brood in a half-light that’s either salvation or damnation — a distinction that depends on whether you think being alone is solitude or isolation. A world where the songs thread through a musty room and gather there like settling smoke. Eventually, if you’re lucky, a cracked window swings open from the wind, bringing a new beam of sound and a fresh light with it to remind you that you’re alive.

FLASHING STAR: The Gorgeous Gospel of Kevin Junior’s Chamber Strings

Not nearly enough people got the chance (or took the time) to listen to the music Kevin Junior made during his short lifetime, which ended one year ago today at age 46. But there’s a good chance that most of those who did have never forgotten what they heard. And hear still. Today we’re remembering […]

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