Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jimi Nelson plays traditional country

Photo credit: April Ray McCarty
Jimi Nelson and the Drifting Cowboys
Where: Swallow’s Inn, 31786 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano
When: 8 p.m. on May 2
How much: Free
Contact: Call 949-493-3188
Growing up in Moline, Illinois, Jimi Nelson was introduced to some of country music’s greatest artists, with Nelson’s parents playing the music of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and early Elvis Presley.

So it’s not surprising when he was given his first guitar at age 12 that Nelson began to master the genre.

Now it is Nelson who is headlining concerts, bringing his original blend of classic and modern country music to stages throughout the West. Nelson and the Drifting Cowboys, who won the award for country/rock band of the year at the Los Angeles Rock City Music Awards in 2008, will headline at the Swallow’s Inn in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday night, May 2, 2009.

Nelson’s Drifting Cowboys features lead guitarist Eddie “Bareback” Montes, bassist Paul “Humbolt Country” Jaeger, drummer Ryan “The Bronc ‘O’” Connor and pedal steel player Chris Harvey.
The concert will provide a chance for fans to hear Nelson and company to showcase material from their newly-issued Tumblewead Records release, the aptly-titled “Do Drop In.”
Fans of artists such as Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam, Buck Owens and the aforementioned Jennings will love the authentic honky-tonk minded sound of the troupe. Highlights on “Do Drop In” include the Gram Parsons-styled “Baby Come Home,” beautiful ballad “Who Needs You” and authentic Bakersfield sound of “100 Tears.”
The cover of “Purple Rain” is another standout on the album, with Nelson completely reworking the Prince classic.Nelson will be selling and signing copies of “Do Drop In” at Swallow’s Inn on Saturday night.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Classic Moody Blues concert set for DVD release

On July 30, 2006, I saw The Moody Blues deliver an incredible full-length concert at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa. The legendary band's show was wonderful and a reminder of the timeless power of a band whose unique and groundbreaking sound continues to resonate with audiences today.
Earlier today, I received an exciting press release that Eagle Vision will soon release The Moody Blues' 1970 concert at The Isle Of Wight on DVD next month.
Here is a copy of the news release:
New York, NY (April 27, 2009)—Eagle Vision, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Eagle Rock Entertainment, will release The Moody Blues: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 on DVD for the first time May 26 (pre-book order date May 5, retail sales price $14.98). This is the legendary much talked-about 79-minute 11-song performance that The Moody Blues—at the height of their popularity and creative powers—totally entranced the hippie audience with on a hot night in August off the coast of England.
Bonus material includes a 20-minute documentary keying in on the behind-the-scenes machinations that took place before, during and after this remarkable event. This historic set of Classic Rock stands complete and unexpurgated as performed by guitarist/vocalist Justin Hayward, bassist/vocalist John Lodge, vocalist/flutist Ray Thomas, drummer Graeme Edge and keyboardist/vocalist Mike Pinder. Touring in support of A Question Of Balance album, The Moody Blues, at this point in time, had had four albums all in the Top 5 U.K. (with two #1s). The audience on this night topped half a million. It was an era that will never be duplicated. This is one of the most indelible, groundbreaking and iconic live performances of the Classic Rock era.
The Isle Of Wight Festival itself is one of the most cherished fests of rock history. It debuted in 1968, continues today, and is most famous for its 1970 lineup that included ELP, Tull, Hendrix, Baez, Kristofferson, Miles, Sly, The Doors, The Who, Moodies and more. The Moody Blues: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 has been heard but not seen. Until now…when it all comes stunningly alive on this DVD. Track Listing1) Gypsy2) Tuesday Afternoon3) Never Comes The Day4) Tortoise And The Hair5) Questions6) Sunset7) Melancholy Man8) Nights In White Satin9) Legend Of A Mind10) Ride My See Saw11) Conclusion
Eagle Rock Entertainment is an international media production and distribution company operating across audio visual entertainment programming. Eagle Rock Entertainment works directly alongside talent to produce the highest quality programming output covering film, general entertainment and musical performance.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Read all about it: Doves' latest and musical duo

As many of you know, I sometimes get around to writing about some of the best new albums that come my way and musician-writer TJR is kind enough to post those on his site. Earlier today, he posted my review of the latest effort from Doves. Make sure to check that out if you are a fan of adventuresome Brit-pop and indie modern rock.

Also, the Orange County Register ran my review of the next Lord of the Strings concert, featuring guitarist Richard Smith and cello player Julie Adams. Here is the story that was posted on the Register's Web site on April 21, 2009:

Few instruments sound as wonderful together as the guitar and cello, especially when played by 2001 National Fingerstyle Champion guitarist Richard Smith and award-winning cellist Julie Adams.
The Nashville, Tenn.-based musicians – who are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary this year – will perform two concerts in south Orange County this week, appearing in Dana Point on Friday, April 24 and Mission Viejo on Saturday, April 25.
Smith, who was born in England in 1971, has been playing guitar since age 5. A childhood prodigy, Smith began to learn guitar after hearing his father play a cover of a notable Chet Atkins-Merle Travis recording, "Down South Blues." Though Smith is left-handed and his father's right-handed guitar was too large for the youngster's small hands, by the end of the day Smith had learned to play both the chords and the melody.
More than three decades later, Smith is considered one of the world's best fingerstyle guitarists, and he performs a wide-ranging repertoire that includes bluegrass, jazz, country, pop, rock and classical.
Adams was raised in Dayton, Ohio, and received her training in music at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the Cincinnati Conservatory.
Though her early training was in classical music, Adams also has extended her interest in contemporary music with the 2000 recording "Theme for Two Friends" with well-known guitarist Muriel Anderson.
Adams also is a well-known studio musician, having played on Top 10 albums and major film scores.
Smith and Adams released their first collaboration, "Living Out a Dream," in 2001. The album features original compositions by Smith and Anderson, as well as interpretations of standards such as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and classical works such as "Flight of the Bumblebee" and "Ave Maria."
For more information on these two shows, call Tim Johnson at 949-842-2227.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs. Photo courtesy of Shout! Factory.

Great news for those of us who loved (and still love) the fantastic power pop-minded effort from singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet and Bangles singer-guitarist Susanna Hoffs "Under the Covers Vol. 1" released in 2006.

I just got the press release from Shout! Factory this morning that the 70s-minded sequel "Under the Covers Vol. 2" is on the way. I interviewed Matthew Sweet about the project last year and he told me it was coming, and now after seeing the track listing, I'm even more excited. And, isn't it cool that I'm not the only one who thinks Bread was cool? Here is the press release:

Featuring Special Guests Lindsay Buckingham,
Dhani Harrison and Steve Howe

In Stores July 21, 2009

Los Angeles, CA – Power-pop sensation Matthew Sweet and Bangles vocalist Susanna Hoffs, otherwise known as “Sid & Susie,” will unveil their newest project July 21 on Shout! Factory, titled Under The Covers Vol. 2. This delightful collection features 16 of the duo’s favorite tunes from the 1970’s, and is the much anticipated follow up to the highly-praised 60’s compilation Under The Covers Vol. 1, released in 2006.

Produced and recorded by Sweet and Hoffs in Sweet’s Lolina Green Studios in Los Angeles , Sweet and Hoffs treat the songs with reverence, showing their appreciation for this captivating decade of music. Under The Covers Vol. 2 features the pair’s perfectly harmonized voices on favorites from the genres of power-pop, glam, classic rock and even prog-rock. The pair get a little help from Lindsey Buckingham on their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News,” Dhani Harrison playd on George Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness,” and Steve Howe guests on their version of the Yes song “I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move/All Good People.”

The tracks on Under The Covers Vol. 2 cover a diverse range of music, including huge hits such as Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May,” and Mott The Hoople’s “All The Young Dudes,” as well as lesser known cult favorites, including Big Star’s “Back Of A Car” and Todd Rundgren’s “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” (one of two Todd Rundgren songs included on the disc). Other treasured songs given the Sid & Susie treatment include John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth,” Derek & The Dominoes’ “Bell Bottom Blues,” The Grateful Dead’s “Sugar Magnolia,” The Raspberries “Go All The Way,” Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers’ “Here Comes My Girl,” Little Feat’s “Willin’,” Todd Rundgren’s “Hello It’s Me,” and Bread’s “Everything I Own.”

Matthew and Susanna have long performed at each other’s shows, and collaborated with comedian Mike Myers as members of Austin Powers’ on-screen band Ming Tea in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Austin Powers in Goldmember before collaborating on Under The Covers Vol. 1. Matthew and Susanna will have a number of tour dates to support the release in addition to separate shows by both Matthew Sweet and the Bangles.

Matthew Sweet released his 10th studio album, Sunshine Lies, on Shout! Factory in 2008. Produced by Sweet, the album featured Hoffs on the title track, and also featured Sweet’s longtime cohorts Richard Lloyd (Television), Ivan Julian (Richard Hell & the Voidoids), noted session player Greg Leisz and drummer Ric Menck (Velvet Crush). Born in Lincoln , Nebraska , Sweet was part of the developing music scene in Athens , Georgia in the 1980s and came to fame in 1991 with his hit “Girlfriend,” off his certified gold album of the same name. After releasing a number of other excellent solo albums, Sweet formed The Thorns with fellow singer-songwriters Shawn Mullins and Pete Droge, and they released one self-titled album to positive reviews. Sweet then returned to his solo efforts, releasing Living Things and Kimi Ga Suki.

One of the most successful female groups of all time, the Bangles, made up of Susanna Hoffs (vocals/guitar), Debbi Peterson (vocals/drums), Vicki Peterson (vocals/lead guitar), and Michael Steele (vocals/bass), first hit the radar as a fixture on the LA music scene in 1981 with their
distinctive pop sound and gorgeous harmonies. The band’s sophomore album, the multi-platinum A Different Light, contained the hit singles “Manic Monday,” “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Walking Down Your Street.” 1988's Everything delivered the hits “In Your Room” and “Be With You,” and the international #1 single “Eternal Flame.” The band broke up in 1989 and each of the band members went on to participate in various other projects, which only contributed to their creative growth. In 2003 they reunited and released Doll Revolution. Shout! Factory released their first-ever live DVD , Return To Bangleonia, in 2007, which featured the original lineup performing their hits at The House of Blues in Los Angeles .

Shout! Factory is a diversified entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering and revitalizing the very best of pop culture – The Stuff You Grew Up On But Never Outgrew. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their careers sharing their music, television and film faves with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD offerings serve up classic, contemporary and cult TV series, riveting sports programs, live music, animation and documentaries in lavish packages crammed with extras. The company’s audio catalogue boasts Grammy®-nominated boxed sets, new releases from storied artists and lovingly assembled album reissues. These riches are the result of a creative acquisitions mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. For more on Shout! Factory, visit

Under The Covers Vol. 2
Distributed by Sony BMG
Release Date: July 21
Selection No.: 826663-11306
Suggested List Price: $15.98

Track Listing:
1. Sugar Magnolia (The Grateful Dead)
2. Go All The Way (The Raspberries)
3. Second Hand News (Fleetwood Mac)
4. Bell Bottom Blues (Derek & The Dominoes)
5. All The Young Dudes (Mott The Hoople)
6. You’re So Vain (Carly Simon)
7. Here Comes My Girl (Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers)
8. I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move/All Good People (Yes)
9. Hello It’s Me (Todd Rundgren)
10. Willin’ (Little Feat)
11. Back Of A Car (Big Star)
12. Couldn’t I Just Tell You (Todd Rundgren)
13. Gimme Some Truth (John Lennon)
14. Everything I Own (Bread)
15. Maggie May (Rod Stewart)
16. Beware Of Darkness (George Harrison)

8th annual Orange County Music Awards held on April 4, 2009

With so many musical categories recognized at the 8th Annual Orange County Music Awards (affectionately known as the OCMAs) on Saturday night, April 4, 2008, and the majority of nominees only up for a single award, it was especially impressive that Venus Infers picked up three trophies on the night.

But the outstanding feature about this event was the camaraderie among the generations of musicians, as well as the palpable positive spirit that this truly marked a new beginning with Martin Brown, founder and producer of the OCMAs, honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award and passing the torch on to the 2009's producer Luke Allen.

"I wanted to officially hand over the music awards to Luke," said an obviously-surprised Brown, who didn't know until a video presentation was made that he was being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. "I started these eight years ago … and this was a time for a change. I'm proud of what I achieved with this, but it needed fresh blood and Luke is definitely the person to do this. I am very happy that he has taken this over.
"This is it, officially (my) goodbye and thank you Orange County for everything you have done for me," said Brown, who now lives in Madrid, Spain. "All the best luck; tell all your friends to support Luke and this organization for as long as you possibly can."

Fallen Stars bassist-singer Tracy Byrnes noted that in past years, many of the artists would get up and leave after their category was named. This year, she noted in a chat after the ceremony, most attendees stuck around to the end and took advantage to network and hang out with other musicians.

Brian Hazard, whose performance moniker Color Theory, has had a strong 2009. In addition to his best electronic nomination, his song "If It's My Time To Go" was included on the 2009 OCMAs mp3 compilation at the ceremony and is already a grand prize winner as part of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. He was one of several musicians interviewed who didn't take home a trophy, but still seemed to having a great time.
"When I was nominated for the 2009 O.C. Music Awards, I wasn't sure what to expect," said Hazard. "I was overwhelmed by the depth of talent here in Orange County. It was truly an honor just to be nominated. I'll be back next year for sure, if only as an audience member."

The mix of eight performances was a perfect sampling of the area scene, with performances by HumanLab, Suburban Legends and Venus Infers especially memorable.
Indeed, the entire evening was about celebrating the local scene.
"That was awesome; let's give it up for these bands," Allen told the crowd, most getting to their feet in a sense of solidarity. "Thanks guys; these are your awards."


Lifetime Achievement Award: Martin Brown
New artist: Japanese Motors
Jazz: Translucent Ham Sandwich Band
Punk: TSOL
Live acoustic: Cory Case
Hip-hop: Mickey Avalon
Alternative: Venus Infers
Blues: Parker Macy Blues
Indie: Venus Infers
World: The Fenians
Electronic: Faded Paper Figures
Pop: The Bolts
Country/Americana: The Fallen Stars
Metal: Atreyu
Live band: The Union Line
Surf: Japanese Motors
Club DJ: Free the Robots
Latin: Boogaloo Assasins
Rock: The Shys
Song: "No Harm Done," Aushua
People's Choice: Duress
Album: "The Truth About Venus Infers," Venus Infers
OC Impact Award: The Vandals