Lucinda Williams (from the album Lucinda WIlliams) - Lucinda Williams began her recording career on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Her output for the label was two albums, Ramblin’ (1979) and Happy Woman Blues (1980), both acoustic folk/blues. Lucinda as a tender folkie surrounded by gentle acoustic instrumentation did not catch traction at radio or with fans.When she moved away covering songs traditional to the genre and into writing her own material, the sound joined with the style of other delta musicians that had gone before the Lafayette, Louisiana born singer.

Lucinda had been playing live since her early 20’s with shows on the Austin and Houston folk circuit mixing the folk, blues and country hybrid found on her first albums. She moved to Jackson, Mississippi to record her pair of Smithsonian Folkways albums. In the 1980’s Lucinda moved her address and her sound west, relocating to Los Angeles.

The L.A. move changed Lucinda’s back-up. Her stages were still on the folk circuit but her backing was a rock’n’roll band. The west coast club version of Dylan at Newport worked well for Lucinda and she started to develop a following from both fans and press. The pairing of her lines against a harder-edged sound was the match that lit a flame for Lucinda’s career. She recorded her debut for Rough Trade Records in 1988 under her own name, branding her sound as home grown, and standing behind the decision by claiming the newly plowed Americana landscape as her own.

Lucinda Williams, produced by Gurf Morlix, was well received. As of an accounting in 2000, the album has sold over 100,000 copies. Often referred to as “The Rough Trade” album for the U.K. label that released the record, Lucinda Williams has been out of print for ten years. The new package includes a remastered version of the original master recordings, missing for over twenty years. The package features a bonus disc containing an unreleased 1989 live concert recorded in Eindhoven, Netherlands and six previously released live bonus tracks.  The record hosts a number of Lucinda Williams standards such as “Changed the Locks”, covered by Tom Petty and “Passionate Kisses”, covered by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

The Lucinda Williams version of her tune “Passionate Kisses” is a template for the future hit of Mary Chapin Carpenter. The track became a Country hit for the singer and garnered Lucinda her first Grammy for Best Country Song. Lucinda Williams has a Zydeco music bed lead a southern girl back home via “Crescent City”. The song, later covered by Emmylou Harris on her Cowgirl’s Prayer album, sees homecoming as lots of dancing and tagging along with siblings ‘cause ‘my brother knows where all the best bars are’. There is a freedom to the songs on Lucinda Williams. It could have been the change in location or the style switch. Certainly a rock’n’roll backing is a perfect complement to her words and the rock attitude that Lucinda’s wears like faded jeans…..a natural fit.

“The Night’s Too Long” name checks Sylvia as the character driving the song. The story tells of a small town waitress saving tips to buy the wheels that help her find an exit. She is hunting for something to make her feel alive and she is ‘tired of these small town boys, they don’t move fast enough…I’m gonna find me one who wears a leather jacket and likes his living rough.’ As the song follows Sylvia to a town where the night has no end the story mirrors the sonic changes that were happening in the music of Lucinda Williams.

Lucinda Williams (Deluxe Edition) celebrates the twenty-fifth anniversary of the course changing album. It captures not only Lucinda Williams as she shifts direction for her music but re-fires the shot heard around the world for Americana music.

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Marvin Etzioni - Marvin's Country - Marvin Etzioni is The Mandolin Man, songwriter, musician, producer and Marvin Country! is where he lives; playing, producing and ruling over a kingdom steeped in tradition, with an eye and ear towards the future.Marvin Country! is a result of collecting and gatherings over several years for Marvin Etzioni. Following three solo releases in the early 1990’s (The Mandolin Man (1991), Bone (1992) and Weapons of the Spirit (1994)), Marvin moved into the man behind the boards, producing tracks with and for artists/friends.

The result of patience gives the tracks on Marvin Country! a big foot up with A list names popping up on the credits. Buddy Miller and Marvin get the boxcar rattling like it is headed down a steep hill with no brakes in hands reach in “Living Like A Hobo”, sticking to bare bones as stand-up bass, squeezebox and jew’s harp hurry to keep up with the groove set in place with drums and electric guitar. “It Don’t Cost Much” edges in a Cajun beat anchored with accordion and tambourine to keep it in Dixie country, a fat sax bump securing its city cred. Marvin Etizioni peppers the air around the double disc with Roots music of every flavor. The diversity of the songs gathers them under a like-minded Roots banner.

Marvin Etzioni: “In the early 1990’s I began recording what would become Marvin Country!  I recorded “Son of a Carpenter”, “You Possess Me” with Maria McKee. We would walk in and play a track and move on to the next song. The whole style of the producing the album was not to analyze it. If the recording wasn’t right, we would go back next day and do the song again.  The album has had different sequences over the last year thanks a few people in on the inner circle of decision. Right before mastering I sequenced it and there were so many options. I was reading an article about how John Lennon and Paul McCartney had sequenced The White Album. There were certainly a lot of ways that could have gone. I used The Beatles as a model in sequencing from both Revolver and The White Album. How Revolver went from “Taxman” into “Eleanor Rigby”. I am really attracted to how those two albums took chances.  If I was to sequence Marvin Country! today, it would have gone differently. It took on really different form because of the time it took to complete. It evolved naturally. If it was one album , it would have told different story.

Personal history for Marvin had set him up for challenges. In 1980 Los Angeles, Marvin Etzioni was ground zero for early steps in Alt Country and Americana, then flying under the banner of Cowpunk.

Marvin Etzioni: There was not Roots scene in Los Angeles in 1982, Lone Justice originally formed around 1981 or 1982. I was playing solo acoustic shows at that time there were not many venues where you could just have you and a guitar. There was the Café de Grand. I would call Madame Wong’s and ask to play acoustic. I met Ryan (Hedgecock, guitar for Lone Justice)and at that time the band didn’t really exist. Ryan recognized me from playing out and we started talked about George Jones.  Ryan said that he wrote songs too. I wound up giving Ryan my next gig since he couldn’t find a place to play and Maria (McKee) showed up with him. They did two-part harmonies, hillbilly songs. I went up and said “I love you both and we need to work on original material”. In helping to cultivate the Lone Justice sound I was more like a producer and mentor at that time. They lost their bass player and couldn’t find musicians who could play that kind of music. They bought me a bass and said ‘you do it’.

It is clarity and precision, that dedication to simple details that binds the diversity of Marvin Country! and fits the songs together like puzzle pieces. Darkness presides over “You Possess Me”, as it enters on a bright chord that has a shadow cast across its surface by the joining of Marvin and Maria McKee’s locked duet. Recording effects make the vocal and playing shared with Steve Earle in “Ain’t No Work in Mississippi” sound like vinyl that has taken a beating in its grooves. Fellow Los Angeles Roots resurrecter, John Doe drops in for “Grapes of Wrath”, The Dixie Hummingbirds gather around the microphone to send spirits and voices skyward on “You Are the Light” and Lucinda Williams pointedly lets Marvin know the depths their four minutes relationship has weathered and how they can go forward as they “Lay It on the Table”.

Marvin Etzioni, armed with his mandolin, added guitar, tambourine, porchboard and casio to the songs make-up. His duets bring marquee status to the double dose of discs found for Marvin Country! Marvin and his sounds balance the power of two with one life that can be is immersed in the song, letting the playing and vocals gain added impact with the use of sounds and loops that create hiss, static and white noise that works out great to keep the edge sharp.

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Jerry Garcia (from the album GarciaLive Volume Six: July 5, 1973 Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders) - Jerry Garcia’s vocal is a dialogue, more of a conversation, on his version of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. His story is a telling of events, one more lost Southern soul carrying the news of a land losing the battle with its Northern sibling. Like everything he touched musically, Jerry Garcia becomes part of the song he offers on the track, found on GarciaLive, Volume 6, the most recent release from the archival series of live performances. Joining Jerry on stage at The Lion’s Share in San Anselmo, CA on July 5, 1973 was Merl Saunders. Merl’s influence on the music of Jerry Garcia went much further than the band the pair fronted, captured live five days later in a previously released album, Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders: Live at Keystone. Jerry began working with Merl Saunders in 1971, and credits the keyboardist with teaching and inspiring The Grateful Dead guitarist to interpret cover versions. Garcia’s abilities to find his own place within the songs of other artists became a trademark for both his band and side projects. Additionally, Merl Saunder’s Hammond B-3 was a perfect union with Jerry as they led the band, with Bill Vitt on drums and John Kahn on bass, into a flowing jam of Rock, Blues, Jazz, and R&B, signatures became engrained within Jerry’s playing in the years that followed.  During the times of the GarcieLive, Volume 6 recording, The Grateful Dead were at a pinnacle, rising from the insular San Francisco music scene to a worldwide stage that embraced the band, as well as becoming one of the centerpoints for a future jam band scene. The Grateful Dead would head east a few weeks after Jerry’s sets with Merl Saunders to be a part of the largest one-day concert event in United States history on July 28, 1973. The event took place in Watkins Glen, New York, where they were joined in concert with The Band and Allman Brothers Band.   

The three discs of GarciaLive Volume Six: July 5, 1973 – Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders accommodate long extended jams, with no one disc offering more than five tracks. Jerry and Merl put an easy West Coast sway into J.J. Cale’s Tulsa rhythms on album opener, “After Midnight”. Disc One nods to Soul and Blues as a Merl Saunders composition (“She’s Got Charisma”) sits alongside tunes from Lightnin’ Hopkins (“Someday Baby”) and Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup (“That’s Alright, Mama”).  The playing stretches to eighteen minutes for another Merl Saunders cut, “The System”, with the keyboardists growling vocal riding on top of the bubbling rhythms. The album moves into free-form jazz as “Merl’s Tune” adds horn riffs as it extends into a jam named for their stage with “Lion’s Share Jam”. GarciaLive Volume Six: July 5, 1973 nods to Memphis as the band cradles the Don Nix/Dan Penn cut “Like a Road” with warm organ chords as Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders take on Soul and Motown classics with Smokey Robinson’s “I Second That Emotion”, The Drifters’ “Money Honey”, and Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You).

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Otis Redding (from the album Lonely and Blue, The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding) - Concord Music Group has inserted a ‘what if’ moment in the recorded history of Otis Redding. The label has collected one of Mr. Redding’s best attributes; his ability to dig into heartfelt ballads. Otis had a way of sinking to the very bottom of the pain; breaking on through and going deeper with more promises, confessions and hope lost. Lonely and Blue; The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding has been released on the Stax Records label on CD and blue vinyl. The collection is packaged with a look that fits it into the 1960’s recording period of Otis Redding.

The compilation producer, David Gorman, felt that “given how nobody had delivered a gut-wrenching sad song like Otis, I always felt he should have made an album you could put on late at night and settle into a glass of something strong. The mood and subject of every song is the same…Otis, heartbroken and begging for your love. I tried to find the saddest most potently heartbreaking songs he ever sang, with no regard for chart position or notoriety. There are a few hits on the album, but they’re there because they fit the mood, not because we wanted to include hits. Lonely and Blue; The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding includes jukebox and car radio memories such as “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, “These Arms of Mine” and a lyrically darker version of “I’ve Got My Dreams to Remember” alongside lesser known heart tugs such as “Waste of Time” and “Everybody Makes A Mistake”.

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Ralph Stanley and Ralph Stanley II (from the album Side By Side) - Two (Ralph Stanley II) began stage work in dad Ralph Stanley’s band when he was three, playing a miniature plastic guitar. He continued to make contributions with lead vocals and rhythm guitar in the 1990’s. Father and son had played and toured together with The Clinch Mountain Boys and with the recent release, Side By Side, the pair expand on a family tradition that dates back to Ralph and his brother Carter recording old-time mountain music beginning in 1946. Dr. Ralph Stanley now enjoys a career that spreads over seventy years. While a blood –based album might seem an easy fit on paper, for Two he was still looking up from way down the bluegrass ladder, “I’d just been in the Clinch Mountain Boys, a band member with him, and I was very proud to be that but we’d never actually done a duet album like this. Playing with Dad, who’s so much of a legend could be intimidating – and he’s had such a great long line of lead singers to live up to ---Carter Stanley, then Larry Sparks, Roy Lee Centers and Keith Whitley. But I’ve been on my own as a solo artist for about five years; I’m more experienced and more relaxed and ready to show people what I can do with the master himself. I asked Dad if he’d be interested in doing something like this and he said yes, he’d love to.”

Side By Side stays the course of tradition as much as the father and son pairing stretches out the branches of the Stanley family tree. The music is old-time mountain music. Bluegrass alive with outstanding players and interactive playing that matches sound like a patch work quilt. The songs are a snapshot of the mountains where they were born (“Carolina Mountain Home”, “White and Pink Flowers”, “Dirty Black Coal”) and glimpses in the lives of its inhabitants (“Darling Little Joe”, “Wild Bill Jones”. The story themes are love derailed (“I’ve Still Got 99”) and love out of reach (“Little at a Time”). Ralph Stanley and Ralph Stanley II visit music from other first generation bluegrass founders such as Dr. Stanley with tracks from Bill Monroe’s older brother, mandolinist Charlie Monroe (“Walking With You in My Dreams”) and Ernest Tubb (“Are You Waiting Just for Me”). Side By Side is a debut for Ralph and Ralph II yet the confidence and distinction the men bring to the songs stands the album with a double shot of master musicians.

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