barrence whitfield and the savages

Barrence Whitfield and the Savages (from the album Dig Thy Savage Soul) - Somewhere back in time, Barrence Whitfield and the Savages struck chords for the power of rock'n'roll. The Boston-based band approached their music from a clinical path. The Savages kept their studies to the main avenues of investigation: Rockabilly, Roots, Jump Blues, Indie Rock, Funk, Soul and a whole lot of stop-hey-whats-that-sound.The men in the band decided on a major path and they were given supportive nods in lieu of true belief. Barrence Whitfield and the Savages have not drifted too far from their intentions. They have, however, sunk way deeper in the dedication to the cause of chaotic rock'n'roll and the abilty to harvest the sound to truly ellicit a change in the basic struture of the human mechanism. In short, Barrence Whitfield and the Savages are still here and kicking your ass, fuck around with punk soul taken and escort it down the aisle to the altar of love.

The Savages do not back Barrence Whitfield as much as surround the man with a chaotic maelstrom of sound……yes, true surround sound. It is a testament to Mr. Whitfield’s fortitude that the force of The Savages does not blow him off the stage. Barrence not only keeps his spot but he also owns the spotlight when he leads the band. Ferocious rock’n’roll and street tough R&B are the default sounds for Barrence Whitfield & the Savages. Dig Thy Savage Soul is the band’s latest release. The group entered as a musical version of the big bang theory in Boston in the mid-1980’s. They exploded onto a vibrant music scene with a stripped down DIY punk sound approach mixed with classic R&B stage shows. What The Cramps did for rockabilly, Barrence Whitfield & the Savages did for R&B.

Dig Thy Savage Soul presents the music of Barrence Whitfield & the Savages in all of its primal glory. “Turn Your Damper Down” revs up a chunky blues riff as its rhythm and sets the band on cruise control; “Show Me Baby” opens on rolling organ chords and horn pops before settling into a confident stride; “I’m Sad About It” slow burns in sorrow as horn blasts fan the flames, and “Oscar Levant” is punk rock and soul heaven. “My Baby Didn’t Come Home Last Night” may read like a sad tale, but the band views the missing mama as a way to vent via raw blues therapy. Barrence Whitfield & the Savages walk the earth on a mission. They are not here to save rock’n’roll, they would rather poke it with a sharp edged audio stick to bring it back to life.

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Patty Griffin (from the album American Kid) - Patty Griffin has stated that much of her new release, American Kid, was written to honor her father. Musically. Patty uses her past recorded output as influence in creating something familiar emotionally that dwells in a musical future sound.“That Kind of Lonely” lanquishes in a lush sound collage that gathers strings and hard edge acoustic chords, using Patty’s voice as a beacon to lead the song across stark soundscapes. Patty Griffin has a voice that can whisper or soar with an equal presence. There is a subtle power in each note, a wink and a smile in every vocal tease.

“A Face in the Crowd” uses piano notes to accent the tale of two Irish kids growing memories on the outskirts of Boston. Band of Joy bandmate Robert Plant joins Patty, their voices the oars that guide “Ohio” down a gently flowing stream, and a woman no longer feels warmth from the Sunshine State in “Don't Let Me Die in Florida”. “Gonna Miss You When You're Gone” is as soft and tender as walking through a cloud; “Get Ready Marie” proposes a community choir to make its point, and “Faithful Son” plays out on a bright acoustic canvas over a shaggy beat. Patty Griffin is a master songwriter, crafting music that honors the past and keeps an ear towards the future. She has a knack of never letting the sound stand still or seem dated in her songs. She allows, and encourages, the music to evolve.

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Various Artists (from the album Let Us In Americana, the music of Paul McCartney) - Like many of us, Paul McCartney has been affected by cancer and, like many again, gets tripped up on the how to help. Music aids in ways that money cannot and when asked to lend a hand by lending a pen, Paul McCartney wholeheartedly agreed with a blessing for the use of his music to bring awareness to women’s cancers and raise money for the charity in the name of his late wife Linda McCartney.The Let Us In Americana campaign features an album born and raised in Nashville to benefit The Women and Cancer Fund. Phil Madeira produced a collection showcasing the songs wearing Americana skin. The artists included have not covered the songs as much as explored and achieved possibilities within the tracks that give them a new way to walk.

Let Us In moves gracefully into the world via The Wood Brothers’ take on album opener “Come and Get It”. The Beatles early catalog provides “I’m Looking Through You” (Jim Lauderdale) and “Yesterday” (Matraca Berg), their film years with “Yellow Submarine” (Buddy Miller) and the later output with “Fool on the Hill” (Bruce Cockburn) and “Get Back” (Ollabelle). The McCrary Sisters were a natural choice for “Let It Be” and they are joined by Amy Helm, Fiona McBain and Alison Moorer as a church organ gets pushed by a hard backbeat. Will Hoge re-dates the “Band on the Road” tour diary; Teddy Thompson delivers a slow southern soul take on “Let Me Roll It”, and Rodney Crowell gives “Every Night” a more dangerous edge to going out, which in turn gives his confession to “be home with you” even more power. Let Us In: Americana, the music of Paul McCartney is a playlist full of innovative interpretations that take the songs to the mountains and the delta to be re-born. Old Crow Medicine Show frontman Ketch Secor takes Appalachia back to its Irish homeland with “Give Ireland Back to the Irish”.

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Old Crow Medicine Show (from the album Tennessee Pusher) - It happened only a few years ago, in 2008. Old Crow Medicine Show released what could be considered, using the title as reference, their concept album. The string band version of a rock opera. In the capable fingers of Old Crow Medicine Show, it may not be particularly opera, but it certainly rocks.Tennessee Pusher was album number three for Old Crow Medicine Show. The background scenery was the hills and hollers of the mountains. Loosely based, the stories referenced the yoke that prescription drugs play in leading around people who are just hanging on.  The characters in Tennessee Pusher are familiar and universal.

The drug infestations in the coal towns of Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee are obvious. There is nothing between the people and the problem. Unemployment and subsequent dependence on the system play a big role onTennessee Pusher, the theme weaving throughout the album though not the only topic. The stories range from questioning sides in the Martin Luther King assassination (“Motel in Memphis”), push hot food as a double entendre with a side of BBQ (“Mary’s Kitchen”) and envision the birth of an angel who walks all to briefly by your side (“Caroline”).

Old Crow Medicine Show has always had songs that went a little deeper than the traditional bluegrass songs that fueled the bands’ busking days. Beginning with their debut, O.C.M.S, the band has managed to support the tales with string instrumentation that stuck to tradition in its make-up and raised the bar with the way the instruments interacted, the more rock stance matching the story lines. Tennessee Pusher stuck to songs and characters with Old Crow Medicine Show taking on the role of minstrels. The guys are not a part of these stories, but thepeople and places are real, and their day-to-day lives come to life in the songs on Tennessee Pusher.

Though they are not the only fare on Tennessee Pusher, the tales that stick to the album title and directedscript are powerful and cast their theme across the surface of the recording. “Crazy Eyes” promises that “it will be all right if I can just get high”, “Alabama High Test” laundry lists the life of the man who physically moves the product, and the title track winds like a lazy river through a tale that questions exactly what is being pushed in Tennessee?

Weighing in at 4’9” is the lead character in “The Greatest Hustler of All”. The narrator lets you know he has been around and considers himself street-wise. In the blink of an eye, the hustler becomes the hustled. “Methamphetamine” is the song you carry with you after first listen. It demands attention with fringe-dwelling characters and a big sing-along chorus for speed.

Tennessee Pusher further cemented Old Crow Medicine Show’s place in the world of music, a place that they rightful belong in.

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Elvin Bishop is celebrating fifty years of recording with the release Can’t Even Do Wrong Right, his return to Alligator Records. Elvin’s first studio steps were not meek touches to test the water. He was a member of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, one of the three independent bands making a big underground noise in the U.S. during the first days of the British Invasion. In the 1970’s, Elvin Bishop enjoyed solo success with a rootsier rock, scoring a hit with “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”. The track featured future Jefferson Starship vocalist Mickey Thomas on vocals. He heads back into the studio with Elvin on Can’t Even Do Wrong Right to pick up the microphone for the bluesy ballad, “Let Your Woman Have Her Way”… a very good match for Mickey’s soulful vocals. Another good friend shows up on the recording with Grammy-winning harmonica man Charlie Musselwhite. The Blues was part of Elvin Bishop’s life at a young age with the music hanging out in local schoolyards luring in unsuspecting children. Elvin was hooked and began collecting music, using a 1959 National Merit Scholarship to get closer to his heroes by enrolling in the University of Chicago, its campus surrounded on three sides by the South Side black community. Elvin recalls that “the first thing I did when I got there was make friends with the guy that worked in the cafeteria. Within fifteen minutes I was in the Blues scene.’

You cannot turn your back on the success that Elvin Bishop has enjoyed over the years. It is Elvin Bishop himself that keeps butts in seats, however, finding a special niche with the average man that walks through many of his songs.  The character is appealing, and has become forever linked with Elvin Bishop the man. He has trademarked wink-and-a nod lyrics that flesh out a guy who tries his hardest; whether he wins or loses is not the point, he gives it his best. Age is in the story line though not as a condition, more a date to be dealt with as you see fit. The common theme with growing older on the album is that it always a surprise when you remember that date or origin. Elvin finger points on the title track, aiming squarely at the lovable loser dude who wins the race only to trip over the finish line, and he shares his secrets to longevity as “Dancin’” with a side of Tex-Mex accordion and guitars.  Another trademark for Elvin Bishop is an intelligent humor that hides itself in his story lines like the pictures in the Highlight magazines found in a dentist’s office.  His smarts show through in the age-proud claim to ‘don’t send me no e-mail, send me a female’ in “Old School”. This is no I-used-to-walk-ten-miles to school whine as Elvin Bishop grabs age by the balls. It sounds like in his seventy-one years that Elvin Bishop never once cleaned up the blues in “Everybody's in the Same Boat”. The riffs are dirty as Elvin speaks/sings truisms about his own life that are shared experiences of all humanity. It is the advice of a man who has never left a stage without smiles stamped in place from his set, and you can believe him when his says that now is the time cause ‘you ain’t never seen a hearse with luggage on the top’

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