Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Inbox Update: Robert Randolph, The Lumineers, Peter Rowan

Robert Randolph 1.JPG
* To download high-res photo, please click here *
April 2nd, 2013 - New York, NY - Robert Randolph, the virtuoso pedal steel guitarist whose distinctive mix of rock, funk and rhythm & blues has built a fervent, international audience has signed with Blue Note Records. The signing is a precursor to the release of Randolph's highly anticipated new studio album – his first since 2010’s We Walk This Road.  “Robert Randolph is an American Original....he has mastered what is, arguably, the most complex instrument in the world and developed a unique voice that is equal parts street-corner church and Bonnaroo. Robert's  new studio album finally captures the energy and excitement of his legendary live performances...we are honored that he has chosen Blue Note Records as his new home.” says label President Don Was.  
The new album is being produced by Randolph and showcases his Family Band, the powerhouse ensemble that has backed him throughout his career. The Family Band is comprised of actual family members Marcus Randolph, Danyel Morgan, Lenesha Randolph together with guitarist Brett Haas. The new album features special guest appearances from Trombone Shorty and Carlos Santana and signifies a return to the joyful, high energy music that has become Randolph's trademark. Blue Note is a true music label with a 75-year history of working with great musicians like John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Al Green and the head of the label is a real musician and songwriter,” explains Randolph. “It's really an honor to sign with Blue Note and to have them share my vision.” The new, as yet untitled, album was engineered by the legendary Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin) and mixed by Jim Scott [Tedeschi Trucks].
Robert Randolph & The Family Band first gained national attention with the release of the album Live at the Wetlands in 2002. The concert recording was taped at New York’s historical Wetlands Preserve Club before its closing in 2001. The band followed this acclaimed live album with their first studio recording Unclassified, attracting the attention of Eric Clapton. Since then, the band has toured with Clapton, Santana and the Dave Matthews Band and, as a headline act, has developed a large, passionate following built upon legendary performances at such major festivals as Bonnaroo, Crossroads, Hard Rock Calling, Montreux, Austin City Limits and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.   Two further albums Colorblind and We Walk This Road enjoyed critical and commercial success led by signature Randolph composed songs such as "Ain't Nothing Wrong With That". Rolling Stone named Robert Randolph one of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists," the only pedal steel player so honored, calling him "one of the most intense live acts in all of jamdom" and citing his solos as "perpetually cresting, lightning-fast explorations."
With a new label, a new record and a summer-long schedule of tour dates, Robert Randolph & The Family Band stand ready to return into the limelight bringing steel-fueled, funky guitar rock back to longstanding fans and fresh ears, alike.
Tour dates for Robert Randolph & The Family Band:
April 6              Keystone, CO                   River Run Rocks Series
April 13            Baton Rouge, LA              Baton Rouge Blues Festival
April 19            Live Oak, FL                     Wanee Festival
April 20            Ft. Worth, TX                    Main Street Ft. Worth Arts Festival
April 21            Atlanta, GA                       Sweetwater 420 Festival
May 3              New Orleans, LA              House Of Blues
May 4              Birmingham, AL                Schaeffer Festival
May 10            Wilmington, NC                 Greenfield Lake Ampitheater
May 11            Beaufort, NC                     Beaufort Music Festival
May 12            Saxapahaw, NC               Haw River Ballroom
May 18            San Francisco, CA           Blue Bear School of Music Benefit
May 19            Dana Point, CA                 Doheny Blues Festival
June 29           Jarvenpaa, FINLAND       Lakeside Blues Festival
July 5-6           George, WA                      JamBase LIVE at The Gorge
July 27            Palmertown, PA                Pennsylvania Blues Festival
August 16        Madison, IN                       Madison’s Ribber Festival

The Lumineers Announce Additional Spring North American Tour Dates 


Denver-based band The Lumineers are excited to announce additional North American headlining tour dates this spring, including a number of stops at top tier festivals along the way, such as Coachella, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, and their first festival headline at Shaky Knees Music Festival May 4 and 5 in Atlanta.

An exclusive fan pre-sale for all headline shows will begin April 3rd at 10 am local time and public on-sale begins on April 5, 2013 at 10 a.m. local time.  To get information about pre-sales for future dates, fans may sign on to the band's mailing list at www.TheLumineers.com. Support acts on the tour include Cold War Kids and J Roddy Walston (where indicated below).

It's hard to believe that it was just 1 year ago (April 4, 2012) that the band's two-time GRAMMY-nominated self-titled debut was released on indie Dualtone Music Group.  The record has sold over 1.2 million copies so far, anchored by the band's infectious single, "Ho Hey" which has sold almost 4 million copies.  The group's second single "Stubborn Love" will achieve Gold status this week and spent 8 weeks at #1 on AAA radio and is currently #2 at Alternative.

Upcoming Tour Dates 
Apr 14 - Indio, CA @ Coachella Music Festival
Apr 19 - Berkeley, CA @ The Greek Theater
Apr 21 - Indio, CA @ Coachella Music Festival
Apr 24 - Houston, TX @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion
Apr 25 - Dallas, TX @ Verizon Ampitheater
Apr 26 - Austin, TX @ The Tower Ampitheater
Apr 30 - Hamilton, ON @ Copps Coliseum
May 01 - Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
May 02 - Toronto, ON @ The Sound Academy
May 03 - Toronto, ON @ The Sound Academy
May 05 - Atlanta, GA @ Shaky Knee Music Festival
May 24-27 - George, WA @ Sasquatch Music Festival 
May 30 - Lancaster, NE @ Pinewood Bowl Amphitheater*%
May 31 - Minneapolis, MN @ Target Center*%
Jun 01 - Kansas City, MO @ Cricket Wireless Amphitheater*%
Jun 04 - Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center*
Jun 06 - Clarkston, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theatre*%
Jun 07 - Canandaugia, NY @ CMAC*%
Jun 06-09 - Mountain Hunter, NY @ Mountain Jam Festival
Jun 07-09 - New York, NY @ Governor's Ball
Jun 12 - Portsmouth, VA @ nTelos Wireless Pavilion*%
Jun 13 - Cary, NC @ Koka Booth Amphitheater*% (Presale: April 10; On-sale April 12)
Jun 14 - Charleston, SC @ Family Circle Pavilion* (Presale: April 10; On-sale April 12)
Jun 13-16 - Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo Music Festival
*with Cold War Kids
%with J Roddy Walston
Peter Rowan Presents
New Album The Old School
All-Star Guests Include Del McCoury, Bobby Osborne, Jesse McReynolds, Bryan Sutton, JD Crowe, The Traveling McCourys and many more
(Nashville, TN) April 2, 2013 -  “The Old School is a big school. It is where the tributaries of the river came from,” says bluegrass legend and GRAMMY-winner Peter Rowan of his new album The Old School. Influenced by his experience with the dynamic and enigmatic father of bluegrass Bill Monroe and written with the “bluegrass code” in mind, the now 70-year-old Rowan recorded the album with an intergenerational cast of players. Old masters such as Bobby Osborne and Del McCoury sat shoulder to shoulder with younger players including The Traveling McCourys, Michael Cleveland, Bryan Sutton and more, everyone playing and singing in a circle and recording old school style.  It was an apt way to capture the raw spirit of bluegrass music and, for Rowan, the album became the perfect vehicle through which to explore the complex musical strands of the bluegrass tapestry. Click here to stream the complete album (link not for publication).
Rowan's ambition going into the project was to assemble an elite cast of players and singers to represent the music's core as well as its broader range of influences. The all-star roster that came together included musicians who were members of the Bluegrass Boys, some of whom were Bill Monroe's contemporaries, as well as subsequent generations of torchbearers and groundbreakers whose talents continue to shape and define bluegrass music.  The complete Old School class includes Del McCoury, Bobby Osborne, Jesse McReynolds, JD Crowe, Buddy Spicher, Jason Carter, Bryan Sutton, Michael Cleveland, the Traveling McCourys, Stuart Duncan, Dennis Crouch, Jeremy Garrett, Don RigsbyChris Henry and the members of the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band.
The album's opening title track “Keepin' it Between the Lines," played in fine, hard driving style by The Traveling McCourys and Michael Cleveland, frames the concept for the album with a motto from life on the road with Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys.  “Vassar Clements was telling me about all these historical moments he was witness to when he was with Bill Monroe and I asked him what it was like being on the road with Bill. He said ‘you’d drive all night, shave in cold water, raise your hand up high and smile.’ It was the old Opry ethic – you want to make the people feel really good.” That feel good style of bluegrass is well represented on two other Rowan originals:  “That’s All She Wrote,” featuring Del McCoury's inimitable tenor vocals and the clever, mid tempo “Drop the Bone" featuring harmony from Ronnie McCoury.
Honest family harmony is another thread of 'the old school', rooted in the gospel quartets the Monroe Brothers learned growing up and the brother harmony tradition furthered by duos like the Osborne Brothers, Jim and Jesse and the Stanley Brothers. Rowan himself grew up in Boston in a very musical family singing many of those classic songs in a trio with his brothers. That tradition is well represented on "My Savior is Calling Me," with Bobby Osborne, Jesse McReynolds and Jason Carter. It's a gospel quartet with a lyric twist:  Rowan explains, “Most of the time the idea is that you’re calling on your savior so He grants you salvation, but I think you reach that point when the object of your faith is manifesting to you, actually calling you.” 
“The old school is in the songwriting too.  Bluegrass music is about some pretty powerful songs. Bill threw the glove down for writing songs - always a sense for ‘top this!’” laughs Rowan, himself praised for his tongue-in-cheek lyricism and vivid imagery. Indeed the song “Letter From Beyond” was charmed by the spirit of Monroe. The song, featuring Rowan and McCoury - two of Monroe's best lead singers - is a message from beyond the grave to a still-living lover and meant to be a companion to the Monroe-Rowan classic “Walls of Time.” “It was almost like I was getting a message from beyond. It was the spirit of the song and of Bill; it was just the kind of song he would’ve written. Both Del and I come from that place where the song comes from – it’s the bluegrass.”
Bluegrass music was also shaped by the folk and “homespun” influences and perhaps no one did more to bring that culture to the national stage than the late guitarist Doc Watson. Rowan wrote “Doc Watson Morning” the night after Doc passed away in May 2012. “We all felt the loss and we all did pick up our guitars and try to invoke the spirit of Doc. You’re playing your guitar and thinking of the man.” The song features Watson-style flat-picking from Bryan Sutton interspersed between Rowan's touching telling of Doc Watson's story.  
Years spent playing with The Bluegrass Boys and driving Monroe's bus allowed Rowan a first hand view into the origins and elements of bluegrass as they stood in the mind of its creator. Monroe taught Rowan about rhythmic styles that needed to be “brought along,” styles that Monroe picked up from his Uncle Pen, from Uncle Pen’s African-American fiddler friend Arnold Schultz and on Monroe’s own trips to New Orleans, styles like stop time, the stomp and the slow drag. ““Ragged Old Dream” is a little bit of a slow drag. It has a little bump, stomp feel to it, but its really what they were calling ‘ragging’ the time,” explains Rowan ever the pedagogue about the bluesy track, “They’re intentionally playing way back on the beat. Bluegrass is tricky because the beat is found by speeding everything up. So I thought it would be nice to play the time in more of its original form."
In many ways The Old School was a vehicle for Rowan to bring his musical history and experiences full circle. In the mid 1960s, the Civil Rights movement was in full swing.  At the time when folk singer Odetta sang “O Freedom” at the famous march on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, Rowan was moving from town to town with Bill Monroe, through the heart of southern communities in the throes of desegregation, including Birmingham, Knoxville and Nashville. It was fitting then that Rowan would choose to sing his version of “O Freedom” a cappella in Wightman Chappell at the Scarritt-Bennett Center, Nashville, Tennessee – the same location where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke during the Civil Rights movement. “History was moving fast and I was with Bill Monroe back then. Because of the segregation, I didn’t know if I could stay in Nashville. This is a way to bring it full circle. I wanted to do “O Freedom” because that was the rallying cry of the Freedom Singers. The Freedom Singers originated in Nashville and Martin Luther King spoke at that Chapel. It seemed to be optimistic; it was bringing it back around, like the Old School. Civil rights, integration, it’s all part of it.”
As his finale, Rowan channels an old WSM radio broadcast with a closing tag from legendary Opry broadcaster Eddie Stubbs to end the show.  In the middle of the reprise of “Keepin It Between The Lines,”  Stubbs signs off, reminding listeners:  “Remember to love your neighbor. Be patient. Be kind. And keep it between the lines." Cameo vocal lines from a few surprise guests reiterate the bluegrass motto – pick it clean and play it true. It's the bluegrass code, handed down through the years from Bill Monroe to his disciples and interpreters, in turn to their followers and emulators and captured here for future generations of bluegrass musicians that will surely find grounding and inspiration in Peter Rowan's Old School.

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