Thursday, July 31, 2014

Walter Trout tribute a labor of love

My story appears in today's print edition of The Orange County Register, and originally ran on the newspaper's Web site on Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

Walter Trout, left, and Danny Bryant. Photo: courtesy of the artists


Who: The Walter Trout Band, Danny Bryant, Jon Trout
Where: The Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano
When: 8 p.m. Friday (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Information: 949-496-8930 or

Walter Trout at Doheny Blues Fest in 2011.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
Life’s struggles have long fueled some of the greatest blues artists, so it’s no surprise that longtime Huntington Beach bluesman Walter Trout is making the most of his own challenges. After a lengthy battle with liver disease, Trout, 63, received a liver transplant May 26. His outstanding new album, The Blues Came Callin’, was recorded from April 2013 to January during the midst of his fight with the deadly disease.
“I was in and out of Hoag Hospital and UCLA all during the recording of that thing,” recalled Trout. He received his transplant at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and is at a rehabilitation center in Omaha.
“It was hard to even schedule the studio (recording time) because I’d say, ‘Next week let’s record Monday, Wednesday, Friday’ and Monday would come and I would feel awful. And I couldn’t even get out of bed, so we’d have to cancel it. And then the next day I’d get up and felt OK, so I’d say, ‘Can we do it today?’ They said, ‘Yeah, come on up,’ and I would drive up to North Hollywood and I would basically play and sing for about two hours, and I would just crash and burn. I would turn around and go home (to Huntington Beach).”
Trout’s previous albums were typically recorded in a month or so, with his rhythm section going in and laying down tracks in less than a week and Trout then providing his powerful vocals and virtuoso guitar work to the brew before keyboards were added and the album was mixed and mastered. The Blues Came Callin’ took almost a year.
“You know, when my liver went off I lost almost 100 pounds in six months. So I lost all the muscles in my arms and my legs; my legs wouldn’t hold me up. So we’re working on that now, and I’ve actually been able to get up and take a couple of laps in the gym using a cane, and that’s been great.”
While Trout continues his recovery, his son Jon Trout, British singer-guitarist Danny Bryant and the Walter Trout Band have embarked on a short tour to celebrate Trout. The ensemble cast will perform at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday night (August 1, 2014).
“The Coach House should be an experience, and I’m really excited to get to do it,” said Jon Trout, Walter’s oldest son. “Having grown up in O.C. means a lot of people who I know and am close to will be there so it will feel incredibly personal to me to be able to play my father’s music to a lot of people who know not just me but my entire family well. Getting to play with a bunch of veterans who have played with my father makes it that much more special, I think.”
Danny Bryant in action.
Danny Bryant, a bonafide legend in his native England, where he has been playing professionally since he was 18, was inspired to play guitar as a youngster after getting his parents to take him to see Walter Trout in concert.
Bryant met Trout at the concert and a few weeks later mailed the guitarist a letter saying he had decided he wanted to dedicate his life to being a musician like Trout. Trout phoned the youngster and told him next time he was in England he would give him some guitar lessons. Keeping that promise was the beginning of a special relationship.
“And so I actually sort of started him off and I’ve watched him over the years mature and develop into a really great artist. I think he’s a great artist. I’m quite proud of him. He’s almost bordering on being my fourth son,” Walter Trout said of Bryant.
Bryant is thrilled to be able to perform in honor of his friend and mentor.
“He is also the kindest person I know, even when he was very seriously ill awaiting his liver transplant, he was still thinking of ways to look after his band and keep them on the road. I think this says a lot. So this is how the idea of the tour came about. Walter has always wanted to help get my career established in America, and originally I was meant to do a support tour with him, but fate intervened and Walter got ill. So as he was so ill and unable to tour, he came up with the idea of bringing me over, to help benefit both the band and myself.”
Walter Trout tearing it up at the Doheny
Blues Festival in Dana Point in May 2011.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
As for Trout, although he had to cancel all his 2014 concert dates, he is working hard on regaining his strength and hopes to begin performing again next year. Anyone who has seen the master singer-songwriter-guitarist knows why.
“I go into a trance when I play,” he said. “I will actually lose any awareness that I have a physical body and I just become the sound … it’s hard not to call that a religious experience. It’s very spiritual for me to play.”
His wife, Marie, has been posting frequent updates on Trout’s battle and recovery from liver disease on

Here is a link to to read my full-length profile of Walter Trout that appeared in The Orange County Register is June 2008. Here is a link to a 2007 feature article I wrote on Trout that also appeared in The Register. Finally, you can read a review of Trout's latest album The Blues Came Callin' on the Music News Nashville site here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Big Star's '#1 Record' and 'Radio City' to be remastered and reissued by Stax Records later this summer!

The news doesn't often get cooler than this! Stax Records is set to reissue two pioneering and essential albums from one of the greatest bands ever. Here are highlights of the official media release...

Albums available Sept. 2, 2014; packaging to include new liner notes by R.E.M.'s Mike Mills

Stax Records will reissue two seminal albums by one of the most influential bands of the 20th century, #1 Record and Radio City by Big Star.

#1 Record and Radio City will be available digitally in standard, mastered-for-iTunes and 24-bit high resolution audio. LPs of the two albums are presently in print, available via Stax Records. Liner notes by R.E.M.'s Mike Mills (a vocal fan of Big Star, as well as the core musician on the "Big Star's Third" concert series) will accompany the releases.

Big Star, considered to be among the founders of power pop, has been cited as an influence by many of the major alternative bands of the '80s and '90s, and continues to be a powerful presence in today's musical landscape. Artists such as R.E.M., Teenage Fanclub, WilcoThe Replacements (who famously penned the song "Alex Chilton") and the Bangles all enthusiastically tout the artistic impact of the group. Mike Mills recalls Big Star is "a band who had gotten it right, who made records that sounded like rock and roll bands should sound. A band who wrote all the songs, from flat-out rockers to achingly beautiful ballads that were still somehow rock songs."

For lots of more details, make sure to read the article posted earlier today on the Music News Nashville site here.

Speaking of both Music News Nashville and Big Star, read my column that ran in MNN in December 2013 where I reviewed the Big Star documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Album Reviews Morrissey and Tom Brosseau

Listen to more and get Grass Punks here

Listen to more and get World Peace Is None Of Your Business here

Wide range of artists shine bright on new albums

In addition to welcoming the continent-hopping collective Riddle & The Stars to the burgeoning Americana genre via their terrific debut, a strong field of artists have returned with noteworthy new releases.

Artist: Riddle & The Stars
Title: This Is Happening (independent release)
You might like if you enjoy: Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris, Fleet Foxes, Johnnyswim
Tell me more: Few movements in modern music have been as rewarding as the explosion of Americana over the past decade. Extending the sonic soundscape first established by the likes of Neil Young, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, modern-day heroes like Mumford & Sons, Trampled by Turtles and Johnnyswim have extended the reach of the genre in new and exciting directions. So too now have Australian singer-songwriter Ben Riddle and Huntington Beach, California-based outfit The Fallen Stars on the newly-issued collaboration This Is Happening. The sterling 12-track collection of authentic songs are enriched by a blend indie folk, alt country and roots music as Riddle and the Stars' talented tandem of Bobbo and Tracy Barnes each get to sing lead vocals while elsewhere they combine forces for some crafty harmonies (notably on the stirring title track).  Highlights include the haunting "Favourite Photograph," reflective "Massachusetts," lovely "Stronger Than Steel" (inspired by the Kaylee Frye character on the cult sci-fi show Firefly) and epic "Dam." Note: This Is Happening isn't scheduled to be released until August 2014, but you can get the first single "Chance" via the link listed below. Information:
Get the single "Chance" here

Artist: Jenny Lewis
Title: The Voyager (Warner Bros.)
You might like if you enjoy: The Watson Twins' 2006 album "Rabbit Fur Coat," Jenny and Johnny, Rilo Kiley
Tell me more: Rarely is an album as interesting or confessional as California singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis' The Voyager. The former singer of Rilo Kiley, Lewis is not afraid to explore and share the deepest reaches of her soul as evidenced by a range of songs offered in different musical styles with lyrics that clearly reflect her own experiences with a rich honesty that is never less than inspired. The evocative "She's Not Me," bouncy New Wave-tinged "Head Underwater" and baroque pop gem "Late Bloomer" are among the wonderful songs on this outstanding album. Information: The Voyager is set to be released on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.
Pre-order "The Voyager" now

Artist: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Title: Hypnotic Eye (Warner Bros.)
You might like if you enjoy: Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Mudcrutch
Tell me more: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' 13th album Hypnotic Eye not only rocks with abandon but mostly recaptures the youthful spirit of the Florida-spawned ensemble's best '70s and '80s efforts. From the mighty opener "American Dream Plan B" and sparse "Full Grown Boy" to the rollicking "All You Carry" (you have to love Mike Campbell's guitar work in this one) and similarly fierce "Forgotten Man," there is a vibrancy and power that defies the group's "classic rock" moniker. What's more, the edgy "Fault Lines" could have fit in as a track on the Beatles' "White Album," with its savage John Lennon-styled guitar licks and confessional core. Information: Hypnotic Eye is set for release on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.
Pre-order "Hypnotic Eye" now!

Artist: Marillion

Title: A Sunday Night Above the Rain (earMUSIC / Eagle Rock Entertainment)

You might like if you enjoy: Peter Gabriel, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead

Tell me more: While British rock artists such as The Beatles and Rolling Stones have achieved widespread acclaim in the U.S., outstanding U.K.'s exports including Blur, Keane and Porcupine Tree have been mostly overlooked here. Add to that essential-listening list the pioneering Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire legend Marillion. The band's newly-released double-album A Sunday Night Above the Rain features the stellar neo-progressive alt rock troupe captured in action in the Netherlands on March 10, 2013 playing all eight songs from their 2012 studio disc Sounds That Can't Be Made as well as long-time favorites including "Garden Party" and "This Strange Engine." Information:
Buy "A Sunday Night Above The Rain" here

Artist: First Aid Kit

Title: Stay Gold (Columbia Records)

You might like if you enjoy: Emmylou Harris, Puss n Boots, Fleet Foxes

Tell me more: Anyone questioning the foundation First Aid Kit  Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Sรถderberg -— set on their 2012 debut, need listen no further than their aptly-titled sophomore effort Stay Gold. The Stockholm-based sisters continue to blend artful and melodic song craft with voices that harmonize in infinite magical ways that haunt and soar simultaneously. There is a slightly edgier approach this time around, both in the lyrics and music making that will further excite the faithful. Standouts on the 10-track disc include the sorrowful "Cedar Lane," the probing "The Bell" and mournful romantic epic "A Long Time Ago." Information:
Purchase "Stay Gold" here

Artist: Michael Lington

Title: Soul Appeal (Copenhagen Music)

You might like if you enjoy: Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot
Tell me more: As modern as it it retro, Michael Lington's Soul Appeal boasts 11 accessible and grooving tracks that blend Memphis soul, funk and R&B. A skilled threat on alto and tenor sax player, Lington shines every step of the way without stepping on the talented cast of players around him. Most of the disc shines with instrumental tracks, although the '70s-mining romantic song "Gonna Love You Tonight" features Kenny Lattimore; "Leave Me You" (co-written and sung by Ryan Shaw) is one of those kind of timeless ballads that Sam Cooke could have hit out of the park half a century ago. Information:

Buy "Soul Appeal" today

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sights and Sounds: Farm Aid 2014, Santana, Duran Duran, Jenny Lewis, "Weird Al" Yankovic

Good afternoon everybody. Ready for your afternoon round-up?

Jack White, Neil Young and Willie Nelson will be featured at Farm Aid 2014. Read more here at the Paste site.

The Orange County Register has a feature story on Carlos Santana. Please note, you must be a subscriber to read the story (which is behind a paywall).

Duran Duran
Yikes! Duran Duran is taking its own fan club to court! Read the latest in Spin here.

Make sure to read this feature story on Jenny Lewis if you are a fan of the singer-songwriter.

"Weird Al" Yankovic hits Number One on Billboard. Read the L.A. Times article here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Johnny Marr to release 'Playland' on October 7

I am thrilled that Johnny Marr has another album coming this year. His first solo album 'The Messenger' was one of the best albums of 2013 and I'm hopeful his sophomore effort is just as great...

Johnny Marr has announced the release date for his second solo album Playland,which is set for release on October 7 via Warner Music Group, and available for pre-order now on iTunes and Amazon. Last year, the legendary guitarist for The Smiths enjoyed a monumental start to his solo career with an abundance of critical acclaim (including the honor of being named NME's 'Godlike Genius') for his Top 10 debut solo album The MessengerMeanwhile, his shows were celebrated for his ability to combine the best of his new material with select highlights from The Smiths, plus others from his extensive back catalog.

Johnny Marr's upward trajectory continues unabated with the release of Playland. Work on the album commenced in London in spring 2014 as soon as the year of touring in support of The Messenger came to a close. It finds Marr continuing the creative connection that was forged on The Messenger with collaborator and co-producer Doviak, as well as the other musicians who performed on the album and accompanying tour.

As Johnny states,"When 'The Messenger' came out I kept on writing. I liked that the band had a momentum going on tour and a connection with the audience, and I thought that energy would be good to capture on the new record."

Written around a common theme of "songs that move at the speed of life," 'Playland' captures much of the spirit that made The Messenger so memorable with energetic, post-punk songwriting complemented by Johnny Marr's characteristic guitar style, thought-provoking lyrical ideas and poised vocal phrasing. "It's important to sound like your environment and on this record that's London and Manchester," he adds. "The feeling of the cities and the people make it into the music."

The title Playland is inspired by Homo Ludens, a 1938 book by the highly influential Dutch cultural theorist Johan Huizinga, which explores the concept of play as a precursor and principal element of cultural development.

One of Marr's favorite performances of 2014 to date came when he performed at the premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in New York City. His contributions to the film's soundtrack (scored by Hans Zimmer) included a songwriting collaboration with Pharrell Williams, while he also performed the closing credits theme song "It's On Again" with Alicia Keys andKendrick Lamar on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Johnny toured extensively in support of 'The Messenger' with highlights including three sold-out shows in Manchester; major London dates at The Roundhouse and the O2 Shepherd'sBush Empire; as well as festival appearances including GlastonburyReadingLeeds and T in the Park. His next UK headline tour includes his largest London solo headline show to date at the O2 Academy Brixton and also features a homecoming show at the O2 Apollo Manchester.

"Playland" track listing:
1.) Back In The Box
2.) Easy Money
3.) Dynamo
4.) Candidate
5.) 25 Hours
6.) The Trap
7.) Playland
8.) Speak Out Reach Out
9.) Boys Get Straight
10.) This Tension
11.) Little King

His current UK tour schedule runs as below:

13 - Lincoln, The Engine Shed
14 - Southend, Cliffs Pavilion
15 - Bexhill, De La Warr
17 - Wolverhampton, Civic Hall
18 - Cardiff, Great Hall
20 - O2 Academy Bournemouth
21 - Cambridge, Corn Exchange
23 - O2 Academy Brixton London
24 - Bath, Pavilion
25 - O2 Apollo Manchester
27 - O2 Academy Glasgow
28 - O2 Academy Newcastle
29 - O2 Academy Leeds

Visit Johnny Marr online:

Yes' "Songs From Tsongas - The 35th Anniversary Concert" coming to DVD, Blu-ray, 3-CD on September 23, 2014

Long-time fans of YES will be more than thrilled to get "Songs From Tsongas - The 35th Anniversary Concert" when it is released on Sept. 23. Here is the media release including the track listing for the various formats, and a look at the cover artwork for the title too!


New York, NY (July 21, 2014)-- Eagle Rock Entertainment is proud to announce the September 23 simultaneous release of Yes’ Songs From Tsongas - The 35thAnniversary Concert - Special Edition on 2DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Formats, and the first ever release of Songs From Tsongas as a 3-CD set. 
The Special Edition of Songs From Tsongas contains two different concerts from Yes’ 35th Anniversary Tour in 2004, the last tour to feature the classic line-up of Jon AndersonSteve HoweChris SquireRick Wakeman and Alan White. In addition to the originally released Songs From Tsongas show, this DVD is packed with an additional 70 minutes of never-before-released highlights from Lugano. Songs From Tsongas offers a fantastic set list of favorites and rarities including “Going For The One,” “Roundabout,” “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” “And You And I,” “Starship Trooper,” “Wonderous Stories,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Yours Is No Disgrace,” “Ritual,” “Turn Of The Century,” and many more captured here in all their glory.
Disc One of the Special Edition DVD contains the whole concert from the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts, previously spread across two discs. This epic show features tracks from across the band’s career including an extensive acoustic section (tracks 11 – 18) and some tracks that have rarely been performed live. This entire concert is featured on the Songs From Tsongas 3CD.
Disc Two features a very different concert on the same tour filmed at Estival in Lugano, Switzerland. This outdoor show has a stripped down stage and full on rock versions of the acoustic tracks from Tsongas while the crowd wield a multitude of umbrellas against the pouring rain, which is clearly not preventing them having a great time!
As a Bonus Feature, the DVD includes another track “Ritual,” also filmed at the Tsongas Arena, and an insightful interview with legendary designer and Yes collaboratorRoger Dean who created the brand new stage set for the shows.
Songs From Tsongas – The 35th Anniversary Concert is an incredible collection that no Yes fan should be without!
Eagle Rock Entertainment is the largest producer and distributor of music programming for DVD, Blu-Ray, TV, Audio and Digital Media in the world.  Eagle works directly alongside talent to produce top quality, High Definition and 3D programs, both concerts and documentaries, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, Queen, The Doors, Jeff Beck, U2, Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney and Ozzy Osbourne. Eagle is a Grammy Award winning company and has received over 30 multi-platinum, over 50 platinum and over 90 gold discs, worldwide.  Eagle Rock Entertainment has offices in London, New York, Toronto, Paris and Hamburg.

Follow Eagle Rock Entertainment at:
Special Edition DVD, Blu-ray:
Disc 1 - Songs From Tsongas
1) Intro/Firebird Suite  
2) Going For The One  
3) Sweet Dreams  
4) Your Move / All Good People  
5) Mind Drive Parts 1 & 2  
6) South Side Of The Sky  
7) Turn Of The Century  
8) My Eyes  
9) Mind Drive Part 3  
10) Yours Is No Disgrace  
11) The Meeting (Piano Solo)  
12) Long Distance Runaround  
13) Wonderous Stories  
14) Time Is Time  
15) Roundabout  
16) Show Me  
17) Owner Of A Lonely Heart  
18) Second Initial (Guitar Solo)  
19) Rhythm Of Love  
20) And You And I  
21) Every Little Thing  
22) Starship Trooper
Disc 2 - Live In Lugano
1) Intro/Firebird Suite  
2) Going For The One  
3) Sweet Dreams  
4) Your Move / All Good People  
5) Long Distance Runaround  
6) The Fish  
7) Owner Of A Lonely Heart  
8) And You And I  
9) Starship Trooper  
10) Roundabout
Disc One:
1) Intro / Firebird Suite  
2) Going For The One  
3) Sweet Dreams  
4) Your Move/All Good People  
5) Mind Drive Parts 1 & 2  
6) South Side Of The Sky  
7) Turn Of The Century  
8) My Eyes  
9) Mind Drive Part 3  
10) Yours Is No Disgrace
Disc Two:
1) The Meeting (piano solo)  
2) Long Distance Runaround  
3) Wonderous Stories  
4) Time Is Time  
5) Roundabout  
6) Show Me  
7) Owner Of A Lonely Heart   
8) Second Initial (guitar solo)  
9) Rhythm Of Love
Disc Three:
1) And You And I  
2) Ritual  
3) Every Little Thing  
4) Starship Trooper

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chicago XXXVI NOW Album Review

Listen to more samples and get NOW here

Veterans and Newcomers Featured on Outstanding New Releases

By Robert Kinsler
Summer 2014 continues to yield musical pay dirt thanks to the far-flung talents of singer-songwriter Morrissey, heartland hero John Hiatt, Americana trio Puss n Boots and synthpop outfit Magic Man.
Artist: Morrissey
Title: World Peace Is None of Your Business (Harvest/Capitol)
You might like if you enjoy: The Smiths, Morrissey’s previous solo albums
Tell me more: It would be impossible to find an artist as adept as Morrissey at tapping into their biggest self doubts and fears while also being able to confidently poke their finger into the collective eye of humanity. The former Smiths frontman may be 55, but sings with the nuance and force of someone half his age on his new disc World Peace Is None of Your Business. There is simply no subject off limits and just about everyone will likely be offended somewhere along the way; the title track questions the success of mass protest and even voting, the decidedly-Smiths sounding “Staircase at the University” looks at student suicide, while “The Bullfighter Dies” champions the bull over the matador. And the music across the disc is glorious, with an intoxicating mix of alt rock, flamenco, post-punk and art damage providing the perfect backdrop for the confessional icon to sing away. Information:
Get the deluxe version of 'World Peace Is None Of Your Business' here

Artist: John Hiatt
Title: Terms of My Surrender (New West Records)
You might like if you enjoy: John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Nils Lofgren
Tell me more: Keeping it real is in John Hiatt’s DNA. One of America’s greatest living songwriters, his newly-released Terms of My Surrender marks another essential sonic incursion by the Indiana native. Mortality is tackled on “Long Time Coming,” probing look at faith via the acoustic blues of “Face Of God” and haunting gospel-tinged Delta ode “”Wind Don’t Have to Hurry.” The beautiful title track looks at love with depth wonderfully at odds in an age where the world seems to live for the moment. A much-recommended deluxe edition of Terms of My Surrender (available via includes a bonus DVD with a live performance by Hiatt captured at the Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tenn in 2013. Information:
Buy 'Terms Of My Surrender (Amazon Exclusive: CD + DVD)' here

Artist: Puss n Boots
Title: No Fools, No Fun (Blue Note Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson, Catherine Popper
Tell me more: Noted singers Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper having been working together since 2008, but only now have released a full-length LP. No Fools, No Fun showcases the three talented artists (dubbed Puss n Boots) playing a variety of instruments and singing with tangible warmth. Among the best songs on the wonderful collection is a sparse acoustic take on Robbie Robertson’s “Twilight,” a high kickin’ country foray on the original Norah Jones gem “Don’t Know What It Means” and a haunting translation of Neil Young’s classic “Down By the River” recorded live. Information:
Purchase 'No Fools, No Fun (Amazon Exclusive - 2 Track Bonus Version)' here

Artist: Magic Man
Title: Before the Waves (Columbia Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Phoenix, Passion Pit, the Postal Service
Tell me more: New England-based Magic Man is more than simply another entry on the burgeoning neo-New Wave synthpop movement. The group’s Columbia Records debut Before the Waves boasts the upbeat indietronica-pop of “Out of Mind,” decidedly melancholy-rich strains of “It All Starts Here” and melodic perfection of “Paris.” Produced by Alex Aldi (Passion Pit, Holy Ghost!), “Before the Waves” is bound together by Alex Caplow’s shining vocals. Information:
Purchase 'Before the Waves' here