Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Sights and Sounds: Tom Freund, Robert Connely Farr, Brian Ray, IZZ, Anna B Savage

Firstly, thank you to all the veterans who have served in the U.S. Military. We thank you for your service on Veterans Day 2020. Today and every day, we are grateful for your incredible service and reminded that freedom isn't free...Robert Kinsler 

Tom Freund readies two new videos, "Freezer Burn" and "Corona Corona"

One of the songs is from the artist's most recent album 'East of Lincoln' and the other is a playful blues ditty about the COVID-19 pandemic

VENICE, Calif. — Tom Freund, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known for his upright-bass-as-lead-instrument work, has kept active during the pandemic months of 2020.
He is about to unveil two new videos, one for “Freezer Burn,” a track from his most recent album, East of Lincoln, and the second for a new adaptation of an old blues song, “Corina Corina,” re-titled “Corona Corona.”

The singer-songwriter and proud Venice resident has eight studio albums (and two EPs, two records, and a kids’ record) to his credit, including the 1992 duo release with college friend Ben Harper titled Pleasure and PainThe New York Times said of his 1999 release North American Long Weekend: “Every year the mounting landfill of new releases that threatens to bury the working music journalists yields a few unexpected gems, and Tom Freund is one of them.” NPR, featuring his 2014 album Two Moons, noted: “California-based troubadour Tom Freund sings of skate-boarding kids, impending doom and Happy Dayslunch boxes on his new album.” The Washington Post wrote of him: “Freund clearly delights in enigma. His vocals could go from laconic to impassioned without such obvious trickery as cranking up the volume. His lyrics are full of curve balls.” Of his most recent release, the Los Angeles Times said, “Fans of roots-oriented artists such as Tom Petty, Townes Van Zandt and Lucinda Williams will find much to explore on East of Lincoln.

About “Freezer Burn”

Starring Freund and French-American actress Loan Chabanol, the video was directed by Wally Pfister, whose career as a cinematographer includes an Oscar for Inception and Oscar nominations for The Dark KnightThe Prestige and Batman Begins. (His first feature film as director, Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany and Morgan Freeman, was released in 2014.)

According to Tom: “I met Wally doing some music for a TV show he was directing titled Flaked, starring Will Arnet. He asked me to write some stuff and come in the studio with him and Wally Ingram. That was even where the title East of Lincoln was initially evoked, because like me, in the show, there was a whole East/West of Lincoln Blvd. (the western borderline of Venice, Calif.) separate lifestyle thing going on.

“We hit it off and he said he would like to do a video for his fave song on the album, “Freezer Burn.” And it just so happened that he was shooting a big Walmart commercial that was trying to recreate his Dark Knight Batman sets. He called me saying this set is perfect. So the next day, following the commercial, we Zoomed in with a small trusty crew of Wally’s and made the video happen! Loan was perfect for the role of the muse/hot-and-cold character of the song. And the backdrop of burned streets in New York with turned-over buses and subway entrances and post-apocalyptic destruction, seemed to fit perfectly with the story of the tune. And then me with my jean shirt and my mandolin, playing and singing through the wreckage, with a look of what the hell happened! We later shot one drone shot up in the hills of Malibu to add to the video tale.”

Featured musicians include Freund, mandolin, voice, guitar, upright bass, and melodica; Ben Peeler (Wallflowers, Shelby Lynne), lap steel; Michael Jerome (Richard Thompson, Better Than Ezra), drums; Chris Joyner (Heart, Ray LaMontagne), keyboards; and CC White, backup vocals, upright bass, vocals and organ; Piero Perelli, drums; Stan “The Baron” Behrens (War, Canned Heat, Willie Dixon) harmonica; and Steve McCormick, slide guitar.

About “Corona Corona”

Says Freund: “OK Corona, it’s really time to go! I took a traditional blues song recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson, Joni Mitchell, and Taj Mahal and I am letting the virus know that it’s not welcome here anymore! So I grabbed my trusty upright bass. Drums came from Piero Perelli in Italy. And my Venice friends joined me: Stan Behrens on harmonica on my front porch, with Steve McCormick from his home studio on guitar. Good riddance ... Corona, Corona.

“It all started with ‘Drums From Italy,’ a friend and fellow musician Rob Calder (Passenger, Angus and Julia Stone) made a group of us on Facebook to share tracks during the lockdown, Send each other songs and play on them, a real Musicians Union of sorts, back in April. I had been messing around with ‘Corona, Corona’ in my head and on my bass for a while. So I went into our pooled Dropbox files and found this drum track from Perelli (and at the time Italy was in the hot seat of the virus). And I said this will be just fine for ‘Corona, Corona.’ So after laying down my upright bass and vocal live-to-drum track I asked my friend Behrens, a Venice, Calif. staple and legend (War, Canned Heat, Willie Dixon) to come and play harmonica on my porch of my apartment, and I brought a microphone out to him and he did a couple takes that were fabulous. Next was my other Venice comrade McCormick, who has his own studio, to lay down the sweet slide guitar. And send it back to me. Then I snuck a little organ on there for good measure. And mixed it from my place.

“Probably the biggest influence on me was Taj Mahal and his wondrous versions of songs like ‘Corina’ and ‘Cakewalk Into Town’ — I have since recorded the latter with Ben Harper. I also loved a version that Joni Mitchell did and Bob Dylan and of course going way back to Blind Lemon Jefferson. Man, that’s the stuff!

“So I put my own spin on the form, the lyrics to match the time, and music (especially by making it upright bass-focused — one of my favorite partners in life).”

Featured musicians include Freund, upright bass, vocals and organ; Piero Perelli, drums;
Stan “The Baron” Behrens (War, Canned Heat, Willie Dixon), harmonica; and Steve McCormick, slide guitar.

Robert Connely Farr refracts the breadth of American roots music through the prism of deep blues on new album

BOLTON, Miss. — Casting a hypnotic spell rooted in the bedrock of Mississippi’s Delta and Hill Country blues, Robert Connely Farrs new 16-song Country Supper transcends the borders of genres by transforming them into his own distinctive, deeply rooted Americana style.
Following his heralded 2019 album Dirty South Blues, which earned comparisons to John Prine and Gregg Allman, the just-released collection is a display of sonic and songwriting shamanism that thrives on driving, laconic grooves in support of the casual command of Farr’s dust-dappled voice and the sting of his grumbling, rock-of-ages guitar.
The album starts with the slow grind of “Cypress Grove,” which wraps a tale of searching for life’s balance around the kind of North Mississippi trance rhythm Farr learned from R.L. Boyce, a leading practitioner of that region’s mesmeric style of music once personified by the late R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. The song is already finding a home on radio, thanks to the raw appeal of Farr’s core trio, which includes drummer Jay Bundy Johnson and bassist Tom Hillifer.
“All Good” is a testament to the often-hard edges of life in the rural Delta, examined through the lens of Farr’s own experiences growing up in rock-poor Bolton, which he spent much of his life trying to escape before the lure of the region’s music called him back. The grit and heat captured by the tones of his guitar pumped through a beaten-up 1960s Harmony amp perfectly underscore his lyrics and echo the cadences of another profound influence, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, the chief proponent of the Bentonia region’s eerie blues sound, which was introduced to the world by Skip James in 1931.
“What’s ironic is that I spent my years growing up aching to leave Mississippi, and after I graduated from college, I left the country,” says Farr, who now lives in Vancouver, B.C. But on a road trip with his father in 2017, they pulled the car over, on a whim, in front of Holmes’ Blue Front CafĂ©, which Holmes’ family opened in 1948. Holmes was inside, quickly learned that Farr was a guitarist, and took him under wing.
Country Supper’s songs “Train Train” and “Must’ve Been the Devil” are among those Farr learned from the now-73-year-old bluesman. Holmes continues to mentor Farr, who makes regular appearances at the Blue Front’s internationally famed Bentonia Blues Festival. But perhaps Farr’s most important lesson has been that his own roots and those of the music he loves come very literally from the same place: iconic early bluesmen Charley Patton and the Mississippi Sheiks’ Bo Carter also hail from Bolton. “When I was growing up there, I had no idea this music even existed,” he admits. “I didn’t start listening to blues until I lived on the other side of the continent, in another country.”
Of course, Country Supper is more than a blues album. “Girl in the Holler” is among the set’s classic roots rockers, which capture the bravado of Farr’s live performances. And “If It Was up to Me” echoes both outlaw country and Lynyrd Skynyrd, with its heavy, loping pulse, reflective mesh of guitars, and Farr’s naked-soul singing.
That vocal candor, warm and burnished, echoes through Country Supper’s two autobiographical cornerstones: the country heartbreaker “Bad Whiskey” — where fourth bandmember Jon Wood lends keyboard and steel guitar — and “I Ain’t Dyin’.” The former provides a harrowingly genuine perspective on alcoholism from the inside, full of regret, loss and defiance. And “I Ain’t Dyin’” has practically become an anthem for Farr, whose struggles with alcohol have been replaced in recent years by a battle with cancer. Both have, at times, put the chill of the grave on his collar.
“In the three-month period when we were recording Country Supper, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to survive,” Farr attests. “I had quit drinking, but I had just had an emergency operation due to cancer. At the same time, my band and I had been traveling to Mississippi to play, and the music I heard there, what I was learning from Jimmy and R.L., was echoing in my head, creeping into my songwriting and playing, even offering me a different perspective on life. I had also just read a biography of Charley Patton, and the scenes it painted of the parties he used to play, called country suppers, were so inspiring … and sometimes so crazy and violent. It reminded me of that Deep South atmosphere… my home was showing up in my music. All of that created this emotional and creative lightning, and we immersed ourselves in it.”
Country Supper, Farr’s fourth solo album, was recorded at Hipposonic Studios in Vancouver in two marathon sessions that yielded nearly 30 songs. Those that best spoke to Farr’s heart and life made the cut. “So Country Supper is a much more personal album than Dirty South Blues — more immediacy, less subtle, more of a picture of who I am,” he says. “Plus, I got to record Country Supper with my own band of over a decade, who are as dedicated to this music as I am.”
Nonetheless, Dirty South Blues, his third album, was a breakthrough, earning Farr nominations for Songwriter of the Year and New Artist of the Year in Canada’s prestigious Maple Blues Awards. The album also won extensive airplay and raves from Elmore MagazineCashboxAmerican Blues SceneAmericana Highwaysand Soul Bag, among others. Greg Vandy, host of influential Seattle radio station KEXP-FM’s Roadhouse performance series, proclaimed Dirty South Blues among the finest albums of 2019.
“I feel like Country Supper is some of our best work, in some ways it opened a floodgate of inspiration” says Farr. “I also feel a responsibility to musicians like Jimmy and R.L., the music of my home. As hard as it is at times, there’s magic in Mississippi, where this music that goes back to the first days of recording is still alive and well in the hands of the elders, and has the power to touch everybody in the same way that it’s touched me.”




Guitarist/songwriter/singer Brian Ray continues his string of provocative singles with “Got A New Thing,” out November 13 from Wicked Cool Records.  The track was written, produced and arranged by Ray who sings, plays guitars, and keyboards on it.  He’s joined by Weezer’s Scott Shriner on bass and background vocals along with Abe Laboriel Jr., Brian’s fellow Paul McCartney bandmate, on drums and additional vocals.

“Got A New Thing” is backed with Brian’s appropriately raucous take on Procol Harum’s “Whiskey Train” on which Textones doyenne Carla Olson is featured.  Brian plays guitars, bass and keyboards. The single will be released on orange vinyl and available at as well as digital outlets this Friday.

Brian Ray’s career has included stints as guitarist and musical director for Etta James as well as studio work with a wide range of notable artists including Steve Goodman, Rita Coolidge, Kelly Clarkson, Juanes, Willy Deville, Shakira and France’s legendary Johnny Hallyday. These were precursors to his ongoing tenure with Paul McCartney. As a member of “Macca’s” touring band, Brian is featured on guitar, backing vocals and bass, the latter whenever Paul picks up a guitar or sits down at the piano.  Both Brian’s solo career and his work with The Bayonets, the band he fronted with Oliver Leiber, have been championed by Steven Van Zandt with heavy airplay on his Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel on Sirius XM, dating back almost a full decade.  Six of his last single releases have been certified as LSUG’s “The Coolest Song in the World” including such recent releases as “Pirate Radio,” “I Ain’t Superstitious” and “One Heartbeat” featuring Smokey Robinson who originally recorded the song, penned by Ray, in the late ‘80s.  Speaking of guests, The Bayonets’ “Vagabond Soul” featured Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler on vocals and harmonica.

“Got A New Thing,” explains Brian, “was inspired by garage pop’s ease in expressing exultation and the idea of righteous justice being meted out. It’s the “you’re gonna get yours” kind of expression found in so many great garage tunes.”  He went on to suggest the theme of the song is “about justice for the victims of sexual assault. It imagines the corrupt abuser being taken away in handcuffs and the victims going on to a new life,  a ‘New Thing’, if you will.

“Got A New Thing” premieres worldwide on Little Steven’s Underground Garage on Friday, November 13 with a full radio service to multiple formats thereafter. 

Prog Ensemble IZZ Releases 42: Glimpse of a Moment Documentary

began the writing sessions for what would become their 7th full length studio album, Don’t Panic, in mid-2017. At the end of that year, the band got together in a rehearsal studio to piece together the centerpiece of the album, “42.”

The band hired a film crew to document these sessions not knowing in what manner the film might be used later on. The result of these sessions, 42: Glimpse of a Moment is a 48-minute documentary that provides a unique window into the band’s process as they write, arrange, and rehearse their epic track from Don't Panic, “42.” The documentary includes a full rehearsal run-through of the entire song at that early stage of development.

42: Glimpse of a Moment is available now for purchase (download and streaming) for $4.99 via Vimeo On Demand here: and linked on the IZZ website (

“The footage in this film was shot several months prior to commencing the recording of Don’t Panic, so it’s really exciting to have captured the band working together in the studio at such an early stage in the writing and arranging process,” notes bassist John Galgano.

Don’t Panic, released in May 2019, turned out to be IZZ’s most successful album to date and when the band looked back at the footage from these sessions in late 2017, they found that they had captured the essence of the collaborative spirit and camaraderie of IZZ.

“I think IZZ fans will absolutely love this look behind the curtain and I think fans of progressive rock in general will enjoy it because it’s just an interesting peek into how a band works on an extended piece of music,” says keyboardist Tom Galgano.

IZZ hopes that fans will enjoy the experience of being a fly on the wall with the band.

Film and editing by Mallory Kinney, who has previously worked with IZZ and Laura Meade on the videos for Don’t Panic and Sunflowers at Chernobyl.

Watch the Trailer for 42: Glimpse of a Moment here:

Paul Bremner: Guitars
Anmarie Byrnes: Vocals
Brian Coralian: Drums & Percussion
Greg DiMiceli: Drums & Percussion
John Galgano: Bass & Vocals
Tom Galgano: Keyboards & Vocals
Laura Meade: Vocals

For more information:



Photo credit: Ebru Yildiz

Today, London-based singer-songwriter Anna B Savage releases the refined and dreamy new single “Corncrakes”. The track is off of her debut album A Common Turn, to be released Jan 29th via City Slang. The music video, directed by Chris Howard (Planet Earth Live, Springwatch, Autumnwatch), is a representation of the happiness, confusion, longing, desire, sadness, and also a stoicism that Savage has experienced in the last few years. Following the release of her recent singles, "Chelsea Hotel #3", "Dead Pursuits", and “A Common Tern”, “Corncrakes” is about Savage exploring and learning to come to terms with her own emotions and learning to live through them.

Written after reading 'The Outrun' by Amy Liptrot and 'The Summer Book' by Tove Jansson, Savage speaks about the inspiration behind writing the song, "At this moment in my life, I was entering a seismic shift. I felt like I was getting clues from the universe, and all I needed to do to ‘work it all out’ was piece them together. These clues came in the form of birds - in this instance a corncrake. I now see the corncrake as a layout for a theme: something tangible, but imperceptible, evident but not necessarily visible."

Listen/Watch "Corncrakes" here:

The album follows the success of her 2015 debut EP, which was praised by press internationally including NPR and The Guardian, and quickly caught the attention of Father John Misty and later Jenny Hval, both of whom took Savage under their wing and brought Savage out on tours. Pre-order A Common Turn HERE.
A Common Turn tracklist:
1. A Steady Warmth 
2. Corncrakes
3. Dead Pursuits (Youtube)
4. BedStuy
5. Baby Grand
6. Two
7. A Common Tern (Youtube)
8. Chelsea Hotel #3 (Youtube)
9. Hotel
10. One

See Anna B Savage live: 
November 11 2020: Porgy & Bess @ Bluebird Festival, Vienna - Austria

Anna B Savage Online:

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