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Americana Rhythm is published six times a year. All corresponCONTRIBUTORS dence should be sent to PO Box 45, Bridgewater VA, 22812 or Ed Tutwiler email to greg@americanarhythm.com. Copies of Americana Wayne Erbsen Rhythm are made available free at various pick up locations within Donna Ulisse the publication’s region. Subscriptions are available inside the United Shelby Gold States (only) for $18 US currency made payable by check or money Andrew McKnight order sent to, Subscriptions at PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA, 22812. Mark Whetzel Foreign subscription requests should be sent to Scott Perry greg@americanarhythm.com. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. DISTRIBUTION Reproduction of any content, artwork or photographs is strictly Ed Tutwiler prohibited without permission of the publisher or original owner. All Zebra Media advertising material subject to approval. Associated Dist. PUBLISHER/EDITOR IN CHIEF Greg E. Tutwiler Associate Editor Ed Tutwiler MARKETING & PROMOTION Mark Barreres (GrassRootsNetworking.com) ADVERTISING Letters, Comments, Suggestions Business office 540-433-0360 greg@americanarhythm.com advertising@americanarhythm.com www.americanarhythm.com

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By Edward Tutwiler

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few years before Americana Rhythm Music magazine came into being, the now publisher called me and asked if I wanted to accompany him to San Diego, CA. for a music conference. He hoped that I could help him and the publisher of Singer magazine staff a trade booth to free them up to do some networking at the conference. Being the seasoned traveler that I am not, I immediately agreed to fly to California. That was my first time to attend a Folk Alliance International (FAI) conference. Several years later, I made a trek to Memphis, TN for another gathering of FAI—this time to staff a trade booth for this magazine. Both experiences were very memorable and enjoyable.

A Unique 30 Years The FAI is a unique gathering of musical artists with the 2018 conference being the 30th year for this gathering. I reached out to FAI’s communications manager, Ms. Erika Noguera to learn more. To get us started, I ask Ms. Noguera to give us her FAI definition of folk music. Here is her reply, “We hold the thought that folk is a music of the people— music traditions and roots traditions of the world over. It is a diverse genre fueled by oral history and roots traditions from all around the world. We see it as a powerful way to share a common humanity and common love for music. Folk music is a music of the people—all the people.” The FAI traces its beginning to Malibu, CA in 1989. Clark and Elaine Weissman and the California Traditional Music Society invited 100 plus interested representatives from the folk community to attend a retreat. The invitees were people from all over who were involved in the presentation and performance of folk music and dance. They represented folk groups that ranged from major presenters to small folk societies and were people who had done business across the continent yet often had

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never met face to face. The purpose of the retreat was to discuss forming a coalition of folk organizers, and the outcome of this retreat changed the way that presenters of folk music and dance, the performers, agents, managers, media, and record companies, do business in North America. At the retreat, the attendees formed a steering committee that worked for a year to craft a set of bylaws. They gathered again in Philadelphia in January of 1990 to approve those bylaws and officially give birth to the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance. The organization changed the name in 2008 to Folk Alliance International (FAI). This name change was to address and embrace international opportunities for North American members and for a growing list of international members and delegates. The FAI works under the leadership of a Board of Directors, but every member of the organization contributes to the success of FAI endeavors in many ways, which includes the many advocacy efforts for the betterment of the folk community. The FAI presents an annual professional development and networking conference. This conference is the world’s largest gathering of the folk community and industry. Each year FAI hosts a gathering of over 2500 delegates.

Rotating Headquarters The FAI headquarters has moved around but is currently located in Kansas, MO, which is probably its permanent home; however. the annual conference takes place in a city and at a time that is determined by the FAI board of directors. The FAI issues a request for proposal from possible sites, and the cities bid to hold the conference. Final selection depends upon the facilities available at the city. The FAI conference is a five-day event and requires preparation with a multi-year approach and an ample investment of time and money. Over the course of its existence, FAI has held the conference in over 15 cites all over North America and in Canada. The 2018 FAI annual conference


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will be held February 14-18, 2018 in Kansas City, MO at the Westin Crown Center Hotel. The 2019 conference will be held in Montreal, Canada as it is every fifth year. The FAI conference includes many seminars and subjectrelated meetings for the delegates to attend as well as a robust tradeshow loaded with display booths staffed by businesses and organizations associated with the folk community. Guest Speakers for this 30th conference include iconic U.S. singer/songwriter, Mary Chapin Carpenter and UK folk-rock legend Richard Thompson.

It’s The Showcases The real fun of the FAI conference, however, is the showcase of talent that goes on display each night, all night. These talent shows serve a very real-world purpose as they expose the performing artists to the industry’s promoters and producers who fill their festival and venue lineups for the year from the folks who showcase their talent at FAI. Showcase presentations at FAI are two-fold: Official and Private; however, FAI also encourages jam sessions both organized and spontaneous. Ms. Noguera said, “We are really excited about our showcase artists this year and all the programming that is shaping up for the conference. This year the theme is about homecoming and celebrating 30 years of folk music and alliances. The artists that are coming this year are such an incredible lineup up of diverse talent both musically and geographically.”

artists to present their own independent showcases. These events occur in designated hotel rooms and suites. Private showcases are non-amplified, acoustic, late night events that run from 10:30 PM until the wee hours of the morning. Each event lasts 15 to 30 minutes and conference attendees rush from room to room to catch as many different artists as possible.

All The Small Spaces Lobby jamming is at the grassroots level and is for anyone who can play a tune—no reservations are needed. The host hotel makes ample space available for jam sessions anytime night or day. Artists participate in jams for the fun of doing so and for the outside chance of being discovered and launched on the ladder of success. I asked Ms. Noguera to leave us with some observations about the FAI mission and how she viewed the future of folk alliances. Here are her feelings, “The FAI is a way of sharing the music of the people. It is all of our music. We feel it very deeply. It is a way of sharing story, history and culture. This music is a powerful tool for unification and personal relations. That is what art and music is about—the elevation of all of us to connect. We feel very passionately about this.” She continued, “We have seen the interest grow in the years we have been in existence and we continue to connect in a deeper and broader way to the incredible community of artists, musicians, and the folk music industry. This community is made up of so

many talented people across various disciplines and career paths and we plan to continue to help these avenues to grow. It is our role as an organization to produce this platform where people can connect with each other for the purpose of personal growth and the growth of a career for their livelihood. With the elevated aspects of the arts that we create and share together, we just hope to continue to do this. We know that this is a really important time in our history to take those connections seriously and we hope to continue doing that in a responsible and intentional way.”

Come One Come All If you are a folk artist, festival or venue promoter, or are a folkmusic fan and care about this genre of music, you owe it to yourself to join the FAI. Although it may be too late when you read this story to make plans to attend FAI’s 30th conference in Kansas City, you can still become an FAI

Official showcases, of which there are about 200, are at the top of the heap. Artists apply for and are selected for these events by an industry advisory panel via an anonymous jury process. Performers are selected based upon their quality of work, current career activity, future performance plans, and national/ international tour-readiness. Official Showcases are 30 minutes in length on full production stages complete with lighting and sound. Private showcases are available to everyone in attendance. To host a private showcase, the artist makes application to FAI for permission. The FAI is one of the few music industry conferences that make the opportunity available for

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member. You can get more information about Folk Alliance International and the 2018 conference by visiting the web sites: www.folkconference.org, and www.folk.org. Also you may contact Lellie Capwell at Lellie@lpc-media.com, 818-3841180 or Erika Noguera at communications@folk.org, 816221-3655(ext7).


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Performing Across The Pond So you want to perform overseas? Let’s talk about Europe. It has its own challenges and definitely has rewards. Being the wayward troubadour that I am (also the name of my new album) brings about it’s own pains and pleasures. As 2017 came to a close, I spent 10 weeks on the road with five days at home. The last four of the weeks were in Europe. We logged eight countries and 2900 miles in a rental car. This was the fourth tour Amy and I have done in Europe so I wanted to share a thing or two of what we have learned and how we make it work.

We generally leave the band at home and do these shows as a duo, a fairly stripped down duo. This format has been a wellreceived approach and helps us cut costs and hurdles of traveling with a full band in Europe. This also allows us to go - if we waited to take everyone, it just wouldn’t happen. I am often asked how touring Europe came about and how we put each trip together. The short answer is: a few lucky breaks; relationships; ability to flow; desire to experience somewhere different; and of course, hard work. Look familiar? It is pretty much the same list for stateside. Let’s go through each.

Lucky Breaks I work hard to create lucky breaks but they are lucky all the same. I find you cannot count on them but take full advantage of them when they come your way. About seven years ago I had a tune of mine, “No Fishin’ Pole,” picked up by Universal Records

France for a Country compilation CD alongside a bunch of the big names. URF promoted it well, and it sold well. While this was a break in and of itself, it did not make my phone ring with performance offers. Next, that same song went to Number One on a European Country Music chart. The phone still wasn’t ringing off the hook. The lucky break was that this gave me the chance to try and open a new market with something to talk about.

Relationships Having a few in-roads open up gave me the chance to build relationships with radio DJs and press. Radio DJs in Europe are different than DJs the States in that they are interested in Indie Music and truly do choose what they play. They like to meet the artists and if you make the effort, they will remember you. My first year over there we played some shows but did a long radio tour through the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. Yes, this was expensive but it laid the ground work for subsequent tours. One thing that helped was setting up interviews with European DJs, the press and

promotions when they come to Nashville for Country music events. It is much less expensive to go to Nashville when they are there. I take any opportunity I can to meet with them in the States at events. My publicist was instrumental in setting these up.

Ability To Flow You must be able to flow with the changes that will inevitably occur. A smile and positive attitude go a long way wherever you are. If you are operating on an Indie level you need to be able to wear all the hats: Drive the car, roadie, collect the money (in the correct currency), negotiate the dates, smile, sell the merch and figure out how to get from A to B with limited language. Don’t buy into the myth that everybody knows English. Many do but most do not, English is not their language. Minimize your troubles with good contracts and a clear delineation of who is responsible for what. Occasionally you will make mistakes with language, misinterpret instructions and find yourself scrambling to get back on track. This is normal, allow plenty of time and learn to cont.

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Thanks to our partnership with ReverbNation (www.reverbnation.com) we are honored to give you a peak at a few of the nation’s hardest working indie artists. Each month we select one entry to showcase for you here. Enjoy! THIS MONTH’S FEATURE:

By Greg Tutwiler

The Loose String Band feel it is unique to our group that we were raised in this area where bluegrass music is so prevalent, and hope that our music continues to draw from our hometown roots,” they told us.

FEATURE ARTISTS T

he ladies have found their groove in Americana music, that’s for sure. One great example is the Loose String Band from Galax, VA. The five women range in age from 15 to 23. They’ve been together for nine years, bringing their unique sounds and harmonies at bluegrass conventions, special events, ceremonies, and festivals. These ladies are well known in the Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding areas for their nice blend of tight vocal harmonies and sweet rhythms. They have also been recognized in Ohio, as the best entertainment of the entire travel expo in Columbus, performed at Merlefest in 2015, and at IBMA in 2016, as well as Song of the Mountain at the famous Lincoln Theater in Marion, VA. The members of the Loose String Band are Channing Combs (Guitar), Grace Davis (Bass), Mary-Claire Hooper (Fiddle), Ashley Hultman (Banjo), and Lindsey Nale (Mandolin). They have all grown up together almost like sisters. Sisters Ashley and Lindsey formed The Loose Strings Band when they were 10 and six years old, respectively. After finding a banjo

and fiddle in their grandparent’s house, the girls started taking lessons at Barr’s Fiddle Shop in Galax, VA. (Lindsey originally started on fiddle and switched to mandolin within the last few years.) “We asked our friend/ neighbor, Channing, to choose an instrument and join us,” they said. “She chose to play guitar, and we started going to practices together. With the help of our instructor, Stevie Barr, we decided to become a band.” Shortly after, they asked Grace to join the group and she agreed to play bass. “Grace comes from a bluegrass family, and had started out playing the fiddle in a group called, The Galax Little Leaves.” The newest addition to the group is fiddler, Mary-Claire Hooper. “She is our youngest member and has been with the group for almost two years now. Mary-Claire has played fiddle from a young age and continues to blow us away with her talent. We are extremely grateful for one another’s friendship and the ability to make bluegrass music together.”

Although they would like to be fulltime musicians, the ladies of LSB still maintain fulltime occupations while pursuing their passion for playing music together. Grace is a financial advisor, Channing works in accounting/ income tax, and Ashley works as a registered nurse in labor and delivery. Lindsey is in college at East Tennessee State University where she is majoring in Speech Language pathology, and MaryClaire is still attending high school, where she is very active in clubs such as Fellowship of Christian Students, and Student Council. The girls are proud to be associated with Galax, VA, known to many as the Bluegrass Capitol, and home of the oldest and largest fiddlers’ convention. People travel miles bringing their RVs and campers to Felt’s Park to camp and compete in this competition. The Galax Fiddlers’ Convention has been around for 82 years and is quickly approaching its 83rd year. “We

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The band has written some original songs and has a CD featuring seven of their originals. Lindsey, Ashley, Grace and Channing all took part. “Lindsey has had some experience writing for the band, it’s a fairly new thing for her but she’s planning on expanding her knowledge regarding songwriting this summer with some friends in Nashville. We have recorded two of her original songs, but together as a band we co-wrote a lot of the songs on our second CD.” Although the band features five women, they weren’t originally just a ladies band. “We have had two males in the band,” they said, “but over time it seemed that we made friends with female musicians. When the guys decided to leave the band, we already had friends who we knew would be a good fit for our band. It definitely makes for a good time traveling when we’re able to help each other choose outfits and get ready for our shows,” they said. Their latest CD, As We Travel, was recorded at Mountain Fever Studios and produced by Aaron Ramsey. “We had a lot of fun making this music, and hope that our listeners enjoy it. We chose a different array of music for this CD from groups like The Carter Family, and The Kendalls. Our previous CD had our original tunes, and on our upcoming album we hope to have all new and original material too

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appreciate the detour. Bringing merchandise into countries varies considerably. Check out ahead who requires what and plan your tour accordingly. Paying duty to import your merch that may, or may not, sell will seriously hurt your bottom line.

already know and how they may be able to help you achieve your goals; whether it’s an address to ship merch to ahead, a friend with instruments you can rent or borrow so you don’t have to fly with them; friends or family you can crash with between gigs. You’ll get there. The experience and stories are well worth it and will last a lifetime.

Desire To Explore A huge part of making an overseas tour successful is the pleasure you derive from traveling abroad. For me, this is a big pay off. I enjoy traveling and having my comfort level and language skills stretched. The opportunity to meet new friends and fans by sharing your music in a foreign country is a ball. Being part of a bigger world music community while being the foreigner is a unique opportunity. It makes me a better songwriter and hopefully a better human.

Hard Work Hard work is a familiar theme in your Indie musical career. Identify what goals you have

In upcoming articles I will go more in depth into bringing your equipment vs. renting gear, bringing merch, hiring a band to back you vs. bringing your own. There are several ways to approach touring internationally and you need to research them and see what works best for you. as an artist. If being able to perform overseas in places like Europe is among them, then work toward creating your breaks and fostering relationships. Think about who you

We will have a booth in the exhibit hall at Folk Alliance (#605) this February. If you are there, stop by and say hello! Until the next article or stop on the road – Happy Trails!

Send us your name and address along with your check or money order for $18 made out to Americana Rhythm, to PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA, 22812. (PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY) You can also subscribe Via PayPal on line at www.AmericanaRhythm.com

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Dropin’ Some Truth

By Greg Tutwiler

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ne of the things I love about this genre’ we call Americana, is that there is so much darn good music that just doesn’t fit anywhere else. And while our little corner of the music universe is ever expanding, it’s still at its core, roots music. Whether an Americana artist is 20 or 50, nearly all will relate their path to the influences of obscure and long forgotten originators of this great sound. In many cases, artists will also credit family members as being the catalyst for what they do today as well. Such is the case with the Wood Brothers. If that name is new to you, I urge you to read on, and, catch these guys live somewhere this year. It has been said their sixth and latest CD, One Drop Of Truth, just might be their best to date. The first release is one of my favorite tunes they do; “Happiness Jones.” Lead singer/ guitarist Oliver Wood said recently, “It was the most fun we’ve ever had making a record.” I caught up with Oliver recently to learn more about this eclectic Americana roots band. “My earliest memories are of music,” Oliver told me, “of my father singing and playing. Actually, he is still playing guitar and singing.” Oliver and younger brother Chris’s father was a science professor by trade, but was always a very serious musician on the side. In his college days, he was a real serious folkie who was involved in the early folk scene in the late 50s and early 60s . “He was actually, was friends with Joan Baez,” Oliver said, “and played on one of her records. He even had a radio show when he was in college.” “He would always play when we were kids sitting in the living room or entertain us on camping trips with his big repertoire of folk songs. We were certainly

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influenced by that not really realizing that it was something unusual or special at all, but it really was,” Oliver recalled.

together proficiently as teenagers before both boys left home and went in totally different directions. “We each spent a good

10 to 12 years pursuing music separately and on different paths,” Oliver said. “We seasoned ourselves, really, for a long time before we actually got back together to play music. When we did that, what was nice about it was that we had already become comfortable with our musical identities and probably our identities in general. It was nice to come back together and make music as grown ups.” Officially, professionally, the Wood Brothers band started around 2005. Oliver was already 40 years old by then, and Chris nearly 36, each having carved out a solid musical career in their own right. Chris was into Jazz and improv in New York City, and Oliver had formed a solid band in Atlanta after playing with Tinsely Ellis for a few years. His own band had released five records. “That’s

continued

Dylan, Hopkins, and Reed Their father also had an amazing record collection, “or at least back when you’re a little kid it’s pretty amazing,” he said. “He had folk music, Dylan records, classical, the Beatles, the Who; there were all kinds of stuff. I remember, for me personally, it was a couple of the blues records from an artist named Lighten’ Hopkins. His record really knocked me out; and some from Jimmy Reed too, anything with that raw bluesy guitar and singing really stuck with me. But it also was fun to listen to acts like Led Zepplein and the Beatles at the same time and see how that stuff was all connected.” Oliver started playing guitar as young child, but got more serious about is as a teenager. He started with a bass guitar thinking he might like to be a bass player, but eventually switched to guitar and gave the bass to his brother, Chris. “He took it and ran with it quite a bit,” Oliver mused. Oliver is four years older than Chris, so they only played a little


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How a recliner, (one I swore I would never have) has become something akin to a best friend is beyond me. Molly, our Catahoula, Blue Heeler mix is curled around the chair’s right leg. An old, worn favorite blanket is thrown over my legs and of course my trusty iPad has laid claim to my lap as I sit dangerously content. I used to stay locked in my writing office. It was my tradition, my way of doing things. My office was my refuge, the room that held inspiration. Now it’s lonely, closed up and waiting for my return as I tap out this article in my new place of inspiration. Rick, my ever patient husband is chuckling as he looks over at me from his matching recliner. This is my life now and I cannot help being happy for myself. So, what’s all this about you ask? It’s about change. Thinking back on how my songwriting has evolved and

continues to evolve is like watching out of the window of a slow moving train. The scenery stays in focus, not flying by in a blur but the terrain changes and keeps me captivated. I am a different writer today and the great thing is that I can look back over my shoulder and see all the turns I took to get here. My personal feeling is that we must continue to improve, to keep honing our craft or we can become stale. I never fear writers block but I do fear redundancy. That is a scary thought. Once, a writer told me there may come a time that I might say all that I can say through song and be done. I believe in my heart that will be the day that I die, for as long as I have breath I will be an observer of life and record those observations through song.

Wood Brothers, continued where I learned song writing and road life,” Oliver said.

Totally Unique Sound “It’s definitely a little bit of a lot of things,” Oliver said. “We were both coming from much different music scenes, and from bands that had these big full sounds, and we were interested in going back to our roots a little bit, and stripping that full sound back some. I don’t know how conscious it was, but it ended up being more like what we heard our dad do when we were kids,” he said. “When we started off, it was very much just acoustic guitar and upright bass. Chris had this old National steel guitar, and we found that the combo of that and the upright bass was just this really cool sound that we were really getting into, especially after years of playing with fuller, bigger sounding bands.” They didn’t want it to sound like everything else, though. “So,

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there was a conscious decision in some sense to go back in time a little bit and play like our dad played, but with a twist, and adding everything we learned over the years to try to make it our own sound. We still do that, however over the years it’s still evolving, and now we have a drummer/keyboardist in Jano Rix. Now we have all these sonic things we can do too. But we always do try to keep it ‘how would WE do it,’ as opposed to somebody else.”

The Shuitar One of the ways they achieve that uniqueness is with an instrument called a Shuitar. “It really is a cheap, acoustic guitar,” Oliver said, “that’s been converted into a purely percussion instrument. He (Jano) basically just beats on it, but it’s not quite that simple. There are strings on it that are bunched together. He hits them with his thumb, and clicks the

To continue on this ever changing writer’s journey I try to stay pliable. I want to stay in a state of change, embrace it like a gift. When traveling recently to a show I had some hours to listen to old songs out of my

good but what I am doing today is better, stronger, more direct. I love it; I love it so well, I teach about it, write articles about it, and fill a catalog for my publishing house. I challenge you to look change in the eye and call it a friend. Never be afraid to try writing something different just for the sake of change. You might stumble onto the next, best you. Why, as I sit in my easy chair with my Martin guitar propped against the wall within reach I am ready for the next curve that will lead me to my next song. Until next time, write on!

catalog. What I heard was amazing to me. Some of the lines from those old songs sounded like a different person came up with them. They were

side of it with a ring on his finger, and he beats the bottom of it with his open hand, and these three sounds are almost like a kick, snare, and high-hat. It’s almost like a mini little drum kit,” he said. “It’s this weird American percussion instrument that we can appreciate, because it’s not your typical ethnic instrument you often associate with Americana music.” And, in case you’re wondering (I was), yes, it’s a real instrument. Matt Glassmeyer is actually the inventor of the Shuitar (Shuitar.com). Although the company is no longer officially producing the instrument for sale, he constructed and sold several hundred units between 2012 and November 2017. I imagine one could find a unit somewhere for sale on the web if you were so inclined.

Drop Some Truth The Wood Brothers officially release their sixth CD, One Drop Of Truth, in February of 2018. By

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Donna was the 2016 IBMA songwriter of the year, and cowriter of the IBMA Song of the Year for 2017. Reach Donna at www.DonnaUlisse.com.

early accounts, it’s possibly their best. Oliver said it was the most fun he’s had making a record. “It’s the freest album we’ve done, the most independent album we’ve done,” he said. “And most importantly, this is the most purely Wood Brothers’ album we’ve ever made.” “Often, when you’re making an album in the traditional way, there will be a unifying concept, whether that be in the approach to the music stylistically or lyrically in terms over the overall narrative. And even though there are some themes that revealed themselves later, this one is all over the place,” Oliver explained recently. “What I really love about this record is that each one of these songs has its own little world. There are diverse sounds and vibes from one track to the next.” This album has made me an even bigger fan of the Wood Brothers

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Listen to the expanded interviews at www.spreaker.com/show/ americana-music-profiles, or search Americana Music Profiles in iTunes!

The Sweet Potatos Kelly Macleod, Laura Hall and Rick Hall, might not be household names, but I bet you know some of their work. Kelly (vocals, guitar) was discovered by Eddie Van Halen and spent some time opening for his band for a season with her band, Private Life. If you ever watched Whose Line Is It Anyway, you’ve seen or heard Laura (vocals, guitar, accordion, ukulele) as she was the pianist for the show. And Rick (vocals, bass, harmonica) has multiple television and film acting credits that include NCIS and Disney’s K.C. Undercover. Together, the trio makes up the Folk/ Americana act known as The Sweet Potatos. The band has been together now for seven years, recording three CDs in the process. “It’s rather stunning, actually, when you think about it,” Laura commented. Kelly and Rick did a movie together, an independent film shot at Rick’s farm in Illinois. “When we got finished with the film,” Rick recalled, “I said to Laura, you guys need to work together.” The ladies started writing together shortly after that, and the next thing they knew they had enough songs for a CD. “So I get the credit for bringing the girls together,” he quipped. “And then we let him in the band,” Laura added. The music is not in the style of Van Halen, obviously. However it is full of polish and soul, centered around delightful songwriting. “I was a rocker,” Kelly said. “I still am a rocker, but my influences are all over the map, and Laura and I had similar musical roots. It just clicked.” “Americana, the kind of stuff we write, is really lyric driven and story driven anyway,” Laura said. “Both of us are definitely drawn to that.” Headin’ Home is their latest CD, featuring more of those insightful lyrics and polished harmonies. It’s colored with sounds of Americana, bluegrass, country, folk and, “a tinge of gospel that will have you stompin’ your boot and singing along your journey.”

Jalan Crossland

The Mosleys

Jalan Crossland makes his home in Wyoming. Michael Segell of the New York Times once commented that Jalan’s song, “Big Horn Mountain Blues” was so popular that it was practically the official state song. That’s a pretty juicy compliment for any artist.

The husband and wife songwriting team of Rachel and Stephen Mosley had a s o m e w h a t accidental start to their career after winning an open mic competition at Zac Brown’s Southern Grounds restaurant in Senoia, Georgia. The grand prize: studio time. Not wanting to squander the opportunity, they got to work carefully writing a few more songs before they recorded their first EP at Zac Brown’s Crow’s Nest Studio in Atlanta.

We caught up with Jalan as he was spending a few months off the touring trail by camping in the Arizona desert. “It is too cold for my clothes in Wyoming,” he quipped. Already sounds like a line from a song to me. “I’m just hanging out in the desert and hopefully getting the chance to write some new songs while I soak up some sunshine.” Jalan calls Wyoming home, where he’s released seven albums, primarily of his own songs. His uncle (Dan) is a fiddler and old time banjo player. “I grew up listening to the banjo since I was born,” he said. “I’m told I would crawl across the floor to the open banjo case and tug on the strings.” He was about 13 when he finally started playing music seriously. “I realized I had to learn to play music to get invited to parties and meet girls,” he mused. “So I worked at it harder.” He’s been doing it for a living now since about age 17. “Between doing opening slots for people and also being on festival bills, you get to meet a lot of other artists,” he said. The years and connections have paid off. He’s been called an “endemic W y o m i n g treasure” by Rita Basom of the Wyoming Arts Council. He’s won dozens of regional contest awards, and in 2013 he was bestowed with the Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award. His recent CD is titled, Singalongs For The Apocalypse. “I’ve had the title written down for a while,” he said. “I just liked the way it sounded. And I finally had enough songs written that leaned into that idea, so I figured it was time to record the album.” To find out more, visit www.jalancrossland.com

Originally from Florida, they spent about 10 years in Georgia before recently relocating back to Florida again. Rachel and Stephen actually met during their freshman year of high school. “We were good friends then, but never dated,” Stephen recalled. “Then sometime during college, we figured it out and got married.” Although music was a thing for them in college, it wasn’t until later in the marriage, after the five children, they figured out it still was. “When we got married we really thought that doing music together was going to be our thing,” he said. “But it just kind of never happened some how.” The Mosleys were living in a eco-community in Atlanta, in a house with a “nest-like” porch attached to it. “It just felt like music needed to be played in it,” Stephen said. “We started playing out there, playing cover tunes and such, for the fun of it, just songs we knew. Some of our neighbors heard us, and they would stand down below and clap,” Rachel recalled. “There was a party in the neighborhood, and they said, ‘you guys are doing the music.” At the friends urging, they entered an open mic night, and won. That led to the release of Beneath the Trees and Stars in 2015. They have been busy playing festivals and stages ever since. They’ve shared the stage with artists like Liz Longley, Harpeth Rising, and Air Supply, and were recently featured artists on NPR’s Folk Alley. And in June of 2017 they released their latest CD, Ordinary Time. To find out more, vivit www.themosleysmusic.com

To find out more, visit www.thesweetpotatos.com Check out

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on iTunes www.AmericanaRhythm.com


March 2018

Simple Truths By Don Brown

The week between Christmas and New Year’s

Listen to the expanded interviews at www.spreaker.com/show/ americana-music-profiles, or search Americana Music Profiles in iTunes!

Eduardo aka “Brown Kid” Although Born in Lima, Peru, Eduardo, who goes by the stage name, Brown Kid, has spent most of his life in the US. He currently resides in Alabama with his wife and children. He has performed his brand of music throughout the Southeast, playing, recording and collaborating with many different artists and experimenting with many different styles of music. His 2013 EP, Rusty Strings, was nominated for Toronto’s independent music awards, and featured on local and national radio. Eduardo’s newest single, “Sunrise,” is gaining national attention and will be featured on his yet to be titled upcoming new CD. Alec Cunningham of Memphis Blank Newspaper said of Eduardo, “The music has a carefree attitude and combines sunny and beach vibes. The melodies of the songs seem to get people engaged.” Eduardo said he grew up listening to the traditional music of Peru, but it was the traditional roots of soul artists of the states that influenced his music performances. “I really enjoyed the folk rock music,” he said. As a student at Auburn University, playing music was a way for Eduardo to pay his bills. “The next thing I knew I was getting booked at different venues, and playing at friends parties,” he recalled. “It just evolved from there with friends growing out of the college scene and moving to different locations and then calling me and inviting me to come play a show where they lived.” Eduardo’s music has a very bright Caribbean, Reggae feel to it. “I started out with more of an acoustic rock, and even punk feel to my music,” he said. “As I evolved though, I enjoyed telling stories, and that’s when the folk thing came in more. And I liked the way the Reggae beats allowed me to keep tempo going since I enjoyed playing by myself,” he said. Look for Eduardo’s new music later this year. To find out more, visit https://drooble.com/ eduardo.leon

Check out

Tom Eure Tom Eure, singer, songwriter and multiinstrumentalist, grew up in Roanoke Rapids, NC, attended Appalachian State University and resides near Charlotte, NC. His 6th solo project, The Coin, The Prayer & The Crow, features Eure on vocals, fiddle, banjo and mandolin. North Carolina is a state replete with musical history, and Tom finds inspiration in his home state. As a studio musician, Eure has appeared on more than 45 albums of various genres, a transition he navigates with ease. He’s the fiddler for 2015 CMA award winners Flatland Tourist, spent seven years with the Cajun band Carolina Gator Gumbo, and has been part of the Celtic duo, Thistledown Tinkers, with Trip Rogers. “As a multi-instrumentalist, I have been lucky enough to work with bands from all types of genres,” Eure says. “I’ve worked with acts in Celtic, Cajon, Americana, Rock and more, and every one of those experiences influence my playing.” “I feel like my music career has not been unlike a world traveler,” Eure notes. “I’ve been visiting all these wonderful places and am able to bring my favorite parts back with me. Picking up on something and passing it along, sharing it, that’s what folk music is all about. The new album is a celebration of life, love, and music that is the next logical step in what I call my ‘folk process’.” With The Coin, The Prayer & The Crow, Tom Eure is joined by new musical partner, Amelia Osborne. The latter is equally skilled at fiddle, banjos, drums, mandolin, guitar, and as a vocalist. Eure has won over audiences in Nashville at venues like the iconic Blue Bird Café, and in New York City at the truly legendary CBGB’s Gallery. Eure shares his eclectic brand of acoustic music in theaters, at festivals and Highland Games throughout the United States. He has opened for some of the finest, James McMurtry, Chris Smither, and the late Warren Zevon. To find out more, visit www.tomeure.com

is always my time for a quick look back and then forward to our next trip around the sun. With a birthday just 30 hours into any new year I’ve extra fuel for this reflection, and it always starts with a visioning exercise to review the previous year’s peaks and valleys in my musical practice; heck, in my life’s practice. During the process, I acknowledge the disappointments, but then focus my energy on what went well. It’s a simple two-part exercise to articulate, “what were your best moments” in the previous year – and then “what actions or good judgment on your part brought them about”. This second activity, describing the catalyst of my positive outcomes in 2017, is what I’d like to share with you now; along with what I learned from it. A Gift … a gesture of assistance … grants meaning My first catalyst to positive result last year was the giving of some kind of gift – a simple gesture of assistance to someone in my life. It turned out that each time I made the gesture it was I who profited. An overt gesture of assistance will grant meaning to the giver of the gift. Belief … a confidence in truth … yields possibility My second catalyst to positive result in 2017 appeared to be raw belief in myself – a confidence in truth as I saw it. With faith and belief in oneself there are very few possibilities out of reach. Initiative … leading movement … produces action Upon in-depth review of much of last year, I realized that good things happened when I took the initiative – when I launched a leading movement. I believe it happens this way because taking up the initiative always brings about some sort of action; my own or another’s. Grit … firmness of character … affords achievement Last year’s final lesson for me was that my own firmness of character – my level of personal discipline – often made the difference between success and failure. Grit affords achievement. Applied effort almost can’t help but result in success. A gift, belief, initiative, grit. This year, I hope you fill your life with meaning, possibility, action and personal achievement. I wish you abundance and contentment, and don’t forget to give yourself a heavy dose of forgiveness because you deserve it. Peace. Don Brown has spent the better part of his career doing what he calls, “helping people with people.” He’s written five books, including his latest, Simple Truths in Music and Life. This latest project is a collection of wisdom gathered from Don’s experiences and time spent with Uwe Kruger of the Kruger Brothers.

on iTunes

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March 2018

We Hear You Now Every since Uncle Dave and Aunt Betty left their front porch and took their Guitar and Fiddle up on the stage at the local high school auditorium, there has been a need to electrically amplify the performer’s picking and singing. Almost any audio amplifier will work as a public address system and drive a garden variety loud speaker with enough volume to reach the back of the hall; however, to transform a faithful representation of the vibrating strings of the performer’s musical instrument and the performer’s vibrating vocal chords into electrical signals that an amplifier can process, has been an ongoing design evolution. Every since that fateful day, that the electricity first flowed, microphones that convert the performer’s playing and singing into electrical signals that amplifiers can process have been necessary. Thus, the continual quest for better microphone designs has also existed. Engineers and work bench tinkerers have stayed busy bettering the quality of the artist’s acoustic output into an electrical signal, which brings us to the heart of our story. One of the most successful folks in this category is Ear Trumpet Labs of Portland, OR. This company is the designer and builder of the most unique looking and electronically superior line of performance microphones that the acoustic string music genre (particularly the bluegrass artists on festival tour) has ever experienced. I first became aware of this most unique looking microphone at a dealer ’s booth at Merefest in Wilksboro, NC this past spring. Since then, these microphones have been constantly on display and in use this festival season. All of this notice collimated this fall at the IBMA conference in Raleigh when the AR booth was located next to the Ear Trumpet Labs’ booth thus allowing us to become familiar with the microphones and the folks associated with them. During the IBMA showcases, these Ear Trumpet microphones were in use by many performers, and it was easy to hear how great they performed—they easily picked up much more of the stage event than did the other microphones

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By Edward Tutwiler

in use. Recently, the publisher and I were attending a festival where a bluegrass group employed five Ear Trumpet microphones. The sound was amazing. We turned to each other and said, “Our readers need to know about this!” To accomplish this, I recently made a call to the designer and manufacturer and creative genus of the Ear Trumpet microphone. Ear Trumpet Labs microphones are the creation of Mr. Phillip Graham. Mr. Graham is a former software engineer with a fine arts degree that drives an artist’s vision. Mr. Graham is the designer and hand builder of every Ear Trumpet Labs microphone produced at the lab. That’s right. Every unit is a hand built creation of his design.

How The Journey Began

It Just Sounds Better I began our interview by asking Mr. Graham to tell us why his microphone design seems to produce a much finer result. Without getting into too much technical detail, he told me that the Ear Trumpet microphone is specially designed to solve the problems that acoustic string-music and vocal performers have long encountered and have had a lot of trouble getting the right tools to achieve the desired result. Mr. Graham told me, “Good sounding condenser microphones that are stable, feedback resistant, and behave well in a live setting are something that very few people have tried to design for that situation. Bluegrass and oldtime music players have an understanding of having to have a good quality sound especially a studio quality sound because they are passionate about having good sounding acoustic instruments and having that sound projected to their listeners. Up to now, they have only had access to microphones designed for studio use. These microphones were never designed for live performance use in mind so they have weaknesses when it comes

I wondered about the unique look to the physical design of the microphone and the fact that it seemed to be designed around hardware store parts. Being an artist at heart, it seems Mr. Graham’s approach to microphone design involves a Zen-like process that he describes as Bricolage. This is an art world term for artwork made by employing creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are at hand regardless of their original purpose. Here are Mr. Graham’s thoughts about this fact as gleaned from his website, “Here at Ear Trumpet Labs, we are tinkerers and artists. When I started making microphones I was immediately drawn to the possibility of making the housings from all sorts of things. Some of our products recall the elegant microphone designs of the early broadcast era; others evoke early industrial aesthetics.”

to stability and feedback rejection and particularly in evenness of tone across the pickup pattern. That is the sort of design aspect that we address in our design.” Although there is no secret formula for achieving the desired result, Mr. Graham said the circuitry is big part of it as it is tuned to minimize the harsh high end of the spectrum but a lot more of the design comes down to its physical construction along with and the placement of the pickup capsule and other components in the uniquely designed head basket. The head basket is his acoustic design and is incredibly complex requiring construction, testing, rejection, and adjustment. The other critical part of the design is the pickup capsule, which is different from those that are widely used in most studio microphones; simplifies the circuitry; is well suited for live performance; and makes the microphone more reliable.

www.AmericanaRhythm.com

I ask Mr. Graham to tell us how he got started on this journey. As he tells it, he has always been a tinker starting with heavy old tube-type guitar amplifiers and different associated audio circuitry. Sometime around 2010, his singer songwriting daughter had just stared to write her own songs and he started thinking about recording her efforts. As he prepared to record her performance, he became interested in microphones. He said, “As I started to examine different designs, I discovered that these available microphones were really atrocious and wondered what it would take to build a good microphone. Just as there are many good acoustic guitar amplifiers on the market, they are expensive; and I could spend the time using found parts and build a high quality amp of my own. So, I just took that same approach with microphones and that idea is what led me down the rabbit hole.” He began by studying ideas expressed by followers of an internet user group devoted to microphone builders There he discovered the interest many in the group had in the design work performed by Scott Helmke in developing his microphone he labeled the Alice. While most microphone design devotees are content to slightly modify existing inexpensive imported microphones, individuals interested in base design are drawn to Scott


March 2018

Helmke’s design. Graham said he owes a lot to this design; and while the Ear Trumpet circuitry is similar, Helmke’s use of copper plumbing pipe in the physical design is what started Graham down the path of repurposing readily available material in his design. I observed to Mr. Graham that it seemed that he started out with a need and then tailored the designs to meet that need. His reply was, “Yes exactly. There are some aspects of the design that are more practical than others. There are times when a need could be filled with a couple of different designs. All the designs were created using found materials initially. I spent a lot of time pouring through the hardware store bins looking for things that appear as if they would go together in the right kind of way. Of course, I then would have the reproducibility problem. I would find something then need to track down the actual supplier of such a part and source the supply for a given part. That has generally been the process for the physical designs.”

Out Of The Basement I ask Mr. Graham if he really started out in his basement just tinkering? He answered, “Yes, absolutely. My initial plan was make one or two just for recording; however as soon as I had made a couple of microphones, and because they have this weird, interesting look musicians that I know were drawn to them and wanted to perform with them. That got me to thinking about the whole deal of why don’t people use studio condenser microphones for live performances and what would it take to do that. That thought process led me to thinking about the whole area of designing for the purpose of getting the best acoustic sound that we could get in a live performance. The appearance of the design led me to that point and that is where my head has been at every since—the focus on the acoustic design problem rather than the aesthetics.” “We were very lucky to have some major players in the oldtime and bluegrass world pick our mics up. The old-time Fog Horn String Band is based in Portland, and I have known the players in this group for sometime. They

were the first nationally touring act to use the Ear Trumpet microphone on the road. They performed with one of the first

Edwina models that I built. They have had that microphone out with them for six years. That event sustained me for the first couple of years because Kaleb (of the Fog Horn String Band) was basically my marketing department.

resonator guitar, they adopted Ear Trumpet microphones for their live performances. Douglas says that these microphones are as much of their stage identity as are their string ties and hats. This high profile really helped. Since then, we have had the microphones at IBMA for two years, and they have been well received. We have had fairly steady growth for the last two years. This is fantastic for us. The coolest thing is how close knit is the bluegrass community. The great thing about old-time and bluegrass music is that much of the audience is composed of players. I feel grateful for how much the bluegrass community has gravitated toward our microphones.”

Two or three years ago, Jerry Douglas started using an Ear Trumpet microphone in his solo performances. This was also near the time he was forming the Earls of Lester group. As he and his sound engineer were already familiar with our microphone and liked the way it worked with his

Be on the lookout for Ear Trumpet microphones on the festival circuit. Hear the difference they make in your listening experience. If you are a performer, borrow one from a fellow artist and see the improvement it can make in your performance. Learn much more about Ear Trumpet Labs and Mr. Graham’s Bricolage creation by checking out the website: http:// www.eartrumpetlabs.com.

ARTISTS: Make Extra Money With Your Music

We had the chance to enjoy a lengthy

The potential to earn income from sync licensing has become a highly desirable and an ever-growing revenue stream for songwriters, composers and publishers. It can be challenging, however, to know how to get started.

ready to license. Artists and composers have granted absolute contractual authority to BNS so that the company can close licensing deals in the most expedient manner. This is important in securing deals in this competitive climate.

We sat down with Steven Briggs, President of Blue Night Soundscapes (BNS), and Dr. E. Michael Harrington, Director of Music Clearance for BNS, to delve into the topic. BNS is a mostly acoustic music licensing library focusing on cue placement in the film, television and advertising industries. The firm, based in the Chicago area, features an eclectic array of folk, jazz, swing, gypsy, bluegrass, classical, Chassidic, Klezmer, world, Traditional Hawaiian, hapa haole, old-timey, Dawg, Celtic jazz, Americana, and singer/ songwriter genres.

After more than 40 years playing acoustic guitar, Briggs founded Blue Night Records (BNR) in 1998. That seminal experience brought with it two lessons: (1) new releases get 90% of the market’s attention; and (2) lots of spectacular original recorded music is just languishing in dark vaults. Enter Blue Night Soundscapes (BNS), which Briggs founded in 2014. In addition to his roles heading up both BNR and BNS, Briggs is a conflict management specialist (Ph.D, Conflict Management, UCLA), a multi-award-winning negotiation skills professor (DePaul University), and has consulted with more than 2,000 major corporate and government clients. Steven applies his personal motto, “Everybody wins” when working with potential licensees to put together sync and master use agreements. He helps music supervisors and ad agency creatives

With its comprehensive collection of mixed, mastered original acoustic music, BNS makes its library available for licensing to music supervisors and creative teams in film, television and commercial advertising. About 95% of BNS’ tracks are pre-cleared and

Catching On

identify ways to meet the time, content, and budgetary expectations of production team decision-makers. Renowned musicologist, Dr. E. Michael Harrington, is Blue Night Soundscapes’ Director of Music Clearance. He is a Professor of Music Business at Berklee College of Music, where he has also designed courses for the music business curriculum. He has served as a consultant and expert witness in hundreds of music copyright/intellectual property matters involving the We Shall Overcome Foundation, Pharrell Williams, Taylor Swift, Dixie Chicks, Adele, Steven Spielberg, Steve Perry, Tupac, Lady Gaga, Deadmau5, Danger Mouse, Adam Levine, Busta Rhymes, Samsung, HBO, and others. Beyond the courtroom, Harrington’s rights ownership expertise has made him a go-to authority for expert commentary in the media, and as a sought-after lecturer at numerous prestigious law schools, Bar Associations, and other groups. His music copyright expertise has been invaluable to Blue Night Soundscapes, as the company is immersed daily in music rights matters

www.AmericanaRhythm.com

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Q&A with Steven Briggs. Later, we asked Dr. Harrington to elaborate on the matter of copyrights. Those conversations will follow over the next two issue. You can see it in it’s entirity on our web site.

I wrote and recorded a song. What do I own? It depends. There are four sets of ownership “rights” associated with your recorded song: (1) The composition itself (the copyright); (2) your recording of the composition (i.e., the “master”); (3) the right to grant a third party permission to use the master in an effort to enhance a moving image (i.e., a “sync” license); and (4) the right to grant permission for public performances of the song to artists who don’t have any ownership rights to it. Entire volumes have been written about each of these types of rights ownership, but I’ll try to keep it brief. I will leave the composition ownership and copyright issues to Dr. Harrington, as he is the resident expert on music copyright law and related issues. continued on page 19

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March 2018

Music From The National Scene

Music From Your Neighbors

w elcome

to the winter edition of SPINS! Check out all this wonderful ear candy (in no special order)! This 2018 freshman collection will keep you busy for hours. Grab your iPad or Smart Phone and dial up some of these fine folks. And please let them know we sent you. We’ve got some great CDs to warm you up this winter! Got one you want us to listen to? send it to: Uncle Woody, The Spin Doctor PO Box 45 Bridgewater, VA 22812

Kristy Cox Ricochet

Tinsley Ellis Winning Hand

Volume Five Milestones

Dale Watson Live At The Big T

www.tinsleyellis.com

www.kristycox.com

www.Volumefivebg.com

www.dalewatson.com

Tinsley Ellis has been a staple on the Blues/Americana world for more than 40 years. The Chicago Sun says, “it’s hard to overstate the raw power of his music.” The nine new original cuts on his latest are classic Ellis

Already an international hit, Kristy Cox is setting her sights on the US Bluegrass scene. She won the 2017 Bluegrass recording of the year from the CMA of Australia. Her new CD, Ricochet, is already climbing in the US

After winning the 2017 IBMA song of the year for “I’m A Drifter,” what better way to follow that up than to release a new record. Celebrating 10 years as a band, the 2017 Emerging Artists Of The Year are poised to do it again

This is an abridged version of the full length CD - explicit content edited out. Some consider Dale the official musical spokesman for Austin, Texas. This is honky-tonk at it’s grittiest. If you like that stuff, you’ll like this stuff

Peter Karp Blue Flame

Brother Roy Last Man Standing

AJ Ghent [J-ent] The Neo Blues Project

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Jennifer Lyn & The Groove Revival Badlands www.jenniferlynmusic.com

This is the second album from North Dakota blues-rock artist Jennifer Lyn. Reared in traditional country and folk, those influences show nicely on her latest project, Badlands, rich with soulful vocals and hot guitar licks

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Laura Benitez And The Heartache With All It’s Thorns www.kgmusicpress.com

With All It’s Thorns is the third CD release from this California girl. Known for story songs and clever lyrics, Laura mixes rockabilly, Cajun, and sweet acoustic melodies with careful finesse. It’s well worth checking this one out

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Christine Rosander Been A Long Time www.christinerosander.com

www.peterkarp.com

www.brotherroy.com

www.ajghentband.com

Called a “seductive singing tenptress,” and a “talented songwriter with a real point of view,” Rosander ’s latest project, Been A Long Time, delves back into her roots growing up in church, and hanging with her grandfather. It’s wholesome goodness

Armed with his National steel guitar and a bundle of stirring songs, Karp delivers passionately on his latest project, Blue Flame, His personal encounter with his idol Willie Dixon has shaped who he is today, and it shows. We like it

It is said that Brother Roy is New York City’s rock and roll missionary. There is something timeless about his music, yet it’s fresh and relatable today as well. He cut his musical teeth with gypsy jazz guitarist Stephane Wremble. This DIY set is groovy good

If blues is your thing, you’ll want to check out this latest CD from AJ Ghent. The Neo Blues Project, is cutting edge sounds, coupled with classic southern blues riffs. AJ is a guitar wizzard. And the cuts on this disc will have you foot stompin’ happy

Remington Ryde

Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst Some Times Jesse James

Shannon Slaughter Never Standing Still

Dana Cooper Incendiary Kid

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A Storyteller’s Memory www.pinecastlemusic.com

Not long ago, Bluegrass music lost one of the great storytellers in James King. James called Ryde’s Ryan Frankhouser days before he died and asked that he keep his music alive. A Storyteller’s Memory is a tribute to King and his music

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www.caspermusic.com

Music Connection magazine called these guys one of the hottest unsigned bands for 2015. This is Steven Casper’s eigth recording, and some say one of his best. It’s a bit Cajun, a bit Tex-Mex - a delicious Americana pudding

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www.shannonslaughter.com

www.danacoopermusic.com

The is the fourth solo CD from award winning singersongwriter Shannon Slaughter. A 2012 winner of the Chris Austin songwriting contest, he’s written songs for Lonesome River Band, Blue Highway, and IIIrd Tyme Out, just to name a few. Good stuff

Dana Cooper is the 2015 Folk Alliance’s Spirit Of Folk Award winner. This 40 year “powerhouse troubadour” is known for his flat-picking, finger-picking, and percussive strumming. His latest, Incendiary Kid, is a continuation of his legacy of music

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You can send new Americana CD releases for consideration to PO Box 45, Bridgewater, VA, 22812

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March 2018

when he emerged from the store he was wearing a fancy pair of cowboy boots. Apparently, he neglected to pay for the boots, so he was in hot water again!

By Wayne Erbsen

I’ve Just Seen The Rock Of Ages Cold chills. That’s what I get when I hear the eerie voice of Ralph Stanley. You can say that I’ve been a true blue Stanley Brothers nut since I first heard them in 1962. Just thumbing through my collection of LPs, I count 58 Stanley Brothers or Ralph Stanley albums, and that doesn’t include several bootleg CDs of live shows. Most of the albums have been played half to death. When I heard that Ralph had passed away, I felt a deep sense of sadness. Of course, I started to think of all the Stanley Brothers songs I know. I stopped counting when I got to 100. My favorite Ralph Stanley songs tend to be the lonesome variety. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the most sorrowful song in the Stanley Brothers’ repertoire, because they are all pretty dang lonesome. One exception that comes to mind is, “He Went to Sleep and the Hogs Ate Him.” That song is in a league all by itself!

One of the more mournful songs that Ralph recorded was, “I’ve Just Seen the Rock of Ages.” In the mid 1970s he frequently performed it with Keith Whitley singing lead to his chilling tenor. Larry Sparks did a classy version which showcased his own lonesome vocal chops. The story behind “I’ve Just Seen the Rock of Ages” is an amazing tale in itself. The composer of both the music and the lyrics was John Brenton Preston from Paris, Kentucky. Known as the harmonica playing man, Preston spent many years of his adult life behind bars, and his rap sheet was said to be rather long. While out on parole sometime in the 1970s, Ralph Stanley and Preston became acquainted and they traveled together to several festivals in Ralph’s bus. One time while they were on the road they stopped for lunch and Preston visited a western store that was next to the restaurant. The story goes that

Syncing cont. from page 17 Turning to the master recording, its ownership is negotiable. For example, if a record label paid for the studio time, engineer, artwork etc. for a CD on which the recording is included, the label would probably expect to own the master. Or maybe the writer’s band recorded the master in a home studio. In that case, perhaps they agreed to share ownership of the master on some specified percentage basis. Whatever the negotiated terms, the parties involved should prepare and sign a notarized “Master Ownership Agreement” to memorialize the deal they struck regarding ownership of the master. It’s important to do that even before the first note is recorded. Then, sometime down the road, when a television/film production company or ad agency wants to use the master recording, and they need a “master use” license from the master owners, you know who they are and what percentage of the master each one owns. Let’s dig deeper. You wrote the composition, you own 100% of the master (not because you wrote the song, but because that’s what you and the other potential rights owners decided). At this point, unless you’ve

agreed otherwise, you own 100% of the publishing rights. You can own them in your name, in a company name you choose, or you can sell them or give them away. Once you do either of the latter two, it’s very difficult to get them back, though. Only the publisher (you or some thirdparty) has the right to issue the sync license necessary for use of the master in television programming, film production, or commercial ads.

During one period of incarceration, Preston landed in solitary confinement. As he sat on the cold, damp cement floor the inspiration for a song came to him, which turned out to be, “I’ve Just Seen the Rock of Ages.” Afraid that he would forget the words, Preston found a tiny pebble, and he scratched the words right on to the cement floor. If that doesn’t conjure up the image of a lonesome song, I don’t know what does! When I first heard the story of this song and began to piece together some facts about the life of John Brenton Preston, I decided that I had to interview him. I spoke with David Freeman, owner of Rebel Records and publisher of the song. Dave guessed that Preston was still in prison, possibly in Kentucky. I immediately called the Kentucky Department of Corrections and they gave me the name of the prison where he was being held. When I rang the main number the operator transferred me directly to an actual cell block. The phone call itself was rather

chilling. Listening past my conversation with the correction officer, I could hear the sounds of prisoners echoing off the high ceilings and the cold, icy bars. It didn’t take much for me to imagine being locked up there myself. Unfortunately, she told me that Preston had already been transferred to another facility. After several more attempts to track Preston down, the trail finally grew cold, and I wearied of the chase. I decided that John Preston did not want to be found. With the publisher’s permission, I did include a tab of “I’ve Just Seen the Rock of Ages” in my 2013 book Bluegrass Jamming John Prine on Banjo. In the preface of the song I included this message to Preston, “John Preston, if you’re reading this, please call me. I’d like to talk with you about this song.” Of course, I didn’t really expect to hear from him but now I know one reason why - he died at age 80 on September 3, 2013, right about the time the book came out. Below is a banjo tab of just the melody of “I’ve Just Seen the Rock of Ages” from my book Bluegrass Jamming on Banjo.

Note that the banjo tuning is f#DGBD. The song can also be found both in tab and standard musical notation in two additional books in my Jamming series: Bluegrass Jamming on Fiddle and Bluegrass Jamming on Mandolin. Information on these and other instruction and song books for bluegrass and clawhammer banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, dulcimer and ukulele, visit Wayne Erbsen’s web site www.nativeground.com.

A word about mechanical licenses If other artists want to record your song, they will need a mechanical license to do so. It gives them the right to reproduce their own version of your song, using some mechanical device, and then legally sell it. Only the publisher of your song, whether it’s you or some third-party publisher, has the right to issue that license. The other artists in that circumstance don’t need a master use license, because they’re not using your master, they’re recording their own. And they wouldn’t need a sync license either, because they’re not using your music to enhance a visual image. This article is continued at www.AmericanaRhythm.com.

www.AmericanaRhythm.com

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Americana Rhythm Magazine Issue #73  

We get to chat with the Wood Brothers about their new CD, One Drop Of Truth in this issue of Americana Rhythm Magazine. We've got a feature...

Americana Rhythm Magazine Issue #73  

We get to chat with the Wood Brothers about their new CD, One Drop Of Truth in this issue of Americana Rhythm Magazine. We've got a feature...

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