Lots of activity at Stony Plain these days, with four new releases in the works, including the second New Guitar Summit extravaganza, a Stony Plain debut for Tim Hus, Duke Robillard's latest CD for us, and a special new one from Big Dave McLean. And there are lots of exciting things in the wings that I can't talk about in case they get jinxed!
Recently, the veteran British DJ, "Whispering" Bob Harris, was in Toronto — he continues to be a champion of the sorts of roots music Stony Plain releases and has played plenty of Stony Plain music in the UK. He likes to call roots music "source music" and that's not a bad definition, either.
We'll live with either description — we know that YOU know what we mean. All we want to call it is "honest music" and that's what's kept us going for more than three decades.
And one personal note: Rayanne Doucet, who has been a mainstay of our staff here for the last five years, has moved on. She has played a major part in our growth, and we will miss her.
NEW GUITAR SUMMIT RIDES AGAIN
SHIVERS FEATURES ALL-STAR CAST OF JAY GEILS, DUKE ROBILLARD AND GERRY BEAUDOIN WITH SPECIAL GUEST RANDY BACHMAN
In 2004, blues/jazz guitarists Jay Geils, Duke Robillard, and Gerry Beaudoin recorded a self-titled collection of songs for Stony Plain. Calling themselves New Guitar Summit, the critically-acclaimed album (SPCD-1301) led to a subsequent performance DVD (SPDVD-1302), Live from The Stoneham Theatre — and afterwards the three skilled instrumentalists went back to the business of their individual careers.
Now the trio has released Shivers, the group's sophomore outing for Stony Plain (SPCD-1328). It's another breathtaking collection of classic guitar work of vintage jazz, swing and blues by Geils, Robillard, and Beaudoin. Shivers features a mix of original songs and classic covers such as "Broadway," "Little Bitty Pretty One," and the title cut, written by Charlie Christian and Lionel Hampton.
The legendary Canadian rock guitarist Randy Bachman (Guess Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive) joins the New Guitar Summit trio, providing his unique guitar sound and warm vocals to a pair of classic Mose Allison songs.
"It's about amazing communication — the three of us really like and respect each other," says Gerry Beaudoin in the album's liner notes. "Jay and I play together every month and come up with different sets of material, and when Duke, who is so busy, gets together with us, it really is like falling off a log." The three guitarists certainly display an uncanny chemistry together, and blues and jazz guitar fans alike will find a lot to like on New Guitar Summit's Shivers album.
Shivers was released in Canada on June 10, and in the U.S. and internationally on July 8.
>> Listen to clips and buy the album "Shivers" at stonyplainrecords.com
MEET TIM HUS: AN ALT. COUNTRY ROAD DOG
THIS ALBERTA "ROAD DOG" DEBUTS ON STONY PLAIN WITH BUSH PILOT BUCKAROO
Few regional artists in Canada work as hard as Tim Hus, who cheerfully plays more than 200 dates a year, most of them in Alberta and British Columbia. In rock and roll parlance, he's a road dog — and on the Stony Plain roster only Corb Lund and Duke Robillard come close to matching the number of live gigs Hus does each year.
At CD release parties in Edmonton and Calgary recently, Hus drew huge, happy and rowdy crowds, who danced and cheered the songs from the new Stony Plain album, Bush Pilot Buckaroo (SPCD-1336). The first single for Canadian country radio, "Dempster Highway," earned particularly strong applause.
Bush Pilot Buckaroo was released in Canada June 3.
His non-stop tour schedule always includes small towns as well as the major centres. As one Alberta fan said: "Any venue with a roof on — and a few without — are perfect for Tim and his band."
"Tim's awesome," says Lund. "He's one of my favorite Canadian songwriters. Nobody captures the rough-and-ready frontier imagery better than him." Lund should know: He co-wrote "Hurtin' Albertan" on Lund's second album, Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer (SPCD-1309).
Hus prides himself in being part of a long line of storytellers. His role models also include Woody Guthrie, Stompin' Tom Connors and Fred Eaglesmith. After years on the road, Tim Hus and his band have a definable sound he's honed on three previous self-distributed albums.
Says Hus: "We've got the approach of a folk band but slam a lot harder; we're a country band with a punk attitude and meaningful songs."
Now the rest of Canada needs to discover this edgy country artist. To that end, he's planning his first tour east of Winnipeg, including a date in Toronto, in October. After that: The rest of the world!
>> Listen to clips and buy the album "Bush Pilot Buckaroo" at stonyplainrecords.com
BIG DAVE MCLEAN: AN ACOUSTIC BLUES "REAL DEAL"
BIG DAVE McLEAN: CANADA'S "REAL DEAL" BLUES ARTIST DELIVERS HIS THIRD STONY PLAIN CD
"Big Dave McLean has been the quintessential behind-the-scenes bluesman." So wrote Billboard, the music business Bible.
They got it right, too. McLean won this year's Maple Blues Award for his lifetime contribution to the blues, and his two previous CDs for Stony Plain both won Western Canadian Music Awards.
Now comes his third for Stony Plain: Acoustic Blues — Got 'em from the Bottom (SPCD-1334), a collection of performances of original material, plus covers by Barbecue Bob, Lightnin' Hopkins, and the man who inspired and mentored McLean, Muddy Waters.
In Canada, he's known as one of the hardest-working musicians in the blues; his last tour saw him play 60 dates in 60 days in close to 60 cities and towns.
Now it's time for Canada's neighbours to the south to discover McLean. As journalist Peter North says in his sleeve note for the new CD: "He's the real deal, a blues singer with a voice that could give a miles' worth of boxcars rumbling through the Winnipeg rail yards a run for their money."
Acoustic Blues — Got 'em from the Bottom will be released in Canada July 15, with U.S. and international release following September 2.
>> See the track list and pre-order the album "Acoustic Blues" at stonyplainrecords.com
JOE LOUIS WALKER & RORY BLOCK FINISH NEW CDS
TWO NEW STONY PLAIN ARTISTS COMPLETE THEIR DEBUT RECORDINGS FOR THE LABEL
Joe Louis Walker has completed his first CD for Stony Plain, Witness to the Blues. Produced by Duke Robillard, the new recording will be released internationally Sept. 30. The CD features a duet with singer Shemekia Copeland, "Lover's Holiday." Insiders who have heard the recording insist that this is the artist's very best work.
Walker is an international artist who frequently performs in Europe, Japan and Australia, and who constantly performs in the United States and Canada. Following two days at the Vancouver Island MusicFest July 12 and 13, he leaves for a major tour in Italy.
With university degrees in music and English, Walker has a wide knowledge of a variety of blues styles — making an instant connection with Robillard, who equally relishes the chance to play in a variety of styles.
Rory Block has completed her debut for Stony Plain, a heartfelt tribute to the legendary blues artist Son House. Titled Blues Walkin' Like A Man: A Tribute to Son House. Packaging for the CD will feature a previously unpublished photograph of Mr. House by his long-time
manager, Dick Waterman.
For Ms. Block, the opportunity to devote a whole album to the work of Son House is something she's been looking forward to for many years. And having harmonica player John Sebastian, former member and main songwriter for The Lovin' Spoonful, join her on three of the numbers made the recording sessions even more special. Like Joe Louis Walker, Rory Block will also play the Vancouver Island MusicFest.
Blues Walkin' Like A Man will be released internationally on September 30.
IAN TYSON AT WORK ON MAJOR NEW TV SPECIAL
IAN TYSON FILMS MAJOR TV SPECIAL FOR BRAVO CANADA!
Ian Tyson, marking his 75th birthday, is completing a major hour-long television special, initially for Bravo! Canada, but hopefully for ongoing play on PBS and other networks.
So far, Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell, Gordon Lightfoot, John Hiatt and Rhonda Vincent have contributed interviews (and in some cases performances) to the project, as have Sylvia Tyson and Stony Plain artist David Wilcox. Wilcox, who played with Ian when he had a television show on the CTV network in the early '70s, met with Ian at an informal filming session at Toronto's legendary Horseshoe Tavern — the pair immediately started swapping guitar licks, old tunes, and some hilarious stories. As one observer notes, "the years just melted away."
Among the numerous interviews, according to Paul Mascioli, Tyson's manager, is a touching reunion with Evinia Bruce, Ian's first love and the inspiration for his best-known song, "Four String Winds".
The special will be aired in September.
>> Listen to clips and order Ian Tyson's albums at stonyplainrecords.com
NEWS FROM THE STONY PLAIN INFORMATION DESK
Corb Lund's third album for Stony Plain, Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier (SPCD-1327), is included on the "long list" of 40 nominees for this year's prestigious Polaris independent music prize. In the past (this is the third year the prize has been offered) roots music has been noticeable by its absence — this year, the initial list also includes other roots artists Justin Rutledge, Kathleen Edwards, Fred Eaglesmith and The Sadies.
Meanwhile, Lund's nominated for a bunch of Canadian Country Music Association awards — as Male Artist, Roots Artist, Album of the Year (Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!) and for SOCAN Song of the Year ("I Wanna Be in the Cavalry"). The song is also up for awards for Video and Video Director (Trevor Smith), and the album is nominated for Album Design (Jeff Sylvester).
And if all that wasn't enough, his three band members — Grant Siemens, Brady Valgardson and Curt Ciesla — are all nominated in the All Star Band category.
Greystone Books, the publisher of It Ain't Easy — Long John Baldry & The Birth of British Blues, by Paul Myers, is offering to send promo copies to blues media, now that the book has been released in the United States.
Stony Plain Newsletter readers in the U.S should contact John Francis Peters. Needless to say, we recommend the book wholeheartedly.
Jeff Healey's Mess of Blues (SPCD-1333) remains on Billboard's blues charts at #5, following a three-week run in the #1 spot. The CD, jointly released by Stony Plain and Ruf Records, has been on the chart for more than three months.
The final instalment of the TV series "Rhythm, Roots and Soul" — seen in Canada on Bravo! and featuring Stony Plain's Harry Manx and Kevin Breit, is scheduled to air today (Friday, June 27) at 7:00 pm EST. The duo perform some of the material from their Stony Plain release In Good We Trust (SPCD-1320).
The series is put together by Toronto-based film-maker Mako Funasaka.
Duke's on the road — well, where else do you expect to find Duke Robillard these days? Here are some of his upcoming dates — in the U.S., Finland, and Canada:
June 28 Puistoblues, Järvenpää, Finland
July 8 Blues At the Beach, Westerly, RI
July 10 The Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, RI
July 11 Johnny D's, Somerville, MA
July 12 Wadawanuck Club, Stonington, CT
July 17 River and Blues, New York, NY
July 18 Sellersville Theatre, Sellersville, PA
July 19 FTC Stage One, Fairfield. CT (with John Hammond)
July 20 Party in the Park, Rochester, NY
July 26 Fiesta Verde, Middletown, RI
August 1 & 2 Warmdaddy's, Philadelphia, PA
August 3 The Turning Point, Piermont, NY
August 4 Stockroom's Blue Monday, Mystic, CT
August 9 Kitchener Blues Festival, Kitchener, ON, Canada
August 10 Lafayette Tap Room. Buffalo, NY (with Jerry Portnoy)
August 15 Harry's Cajun Restaurant, Hyannis, MA
August 16 Gilrein's, Worcester, MA
August 17 Providence Firefighter, Providence, RI
August 22 Silver Dollar, Toronto, ON, Canada
August 23 Welland Concert Series, Welland, ON, Canada
We accidentally omitted to list the interviewer who quizzed Amos Garrett in the last issue of this newsletter. Belated thanks to Heath McCoy, senior music writer with the Calgary Herald, for permission to run the article he originally published in the newspaper in April.
"Red Dog", a track from Duke Robillard's latest Stony Plain CD, A Swingin' Session with Duke Robillard, is included on a CD released with the June issue of the U.S. magazine Jazziz. The June/July edition of the U.S. folk magazine Dirty Linen features an Editor's Choice sampler, which includes "Summer Wages" by the Good Brothers from The Gift: A Tribute to Ian Tyson (SPCD-1322).
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: A FINAL WORD ON AMOS GARRETT
"Among guitarists of a certain age, Amos Garrett is a legend. His solo on Maria Muldaur's hit, "Midnight at the Oasis", made many a player in the Seventies consider a career in automotive repair. His solo on "Georgia On My Mind" on Geoff and Maria Muldaur's record, Pottery Pie, was rumored to be on a tape loop that Robbie Robertson of The Band kept running for hours.
What made Garrett so revered was his distinctive and difficult approach to the instrument. Exhibiting influences far beyond just previous guitarists, he incorporated elements of pedal steel, trombone (his other instrument), as well as some tricks uniquely his own. These distinctive licks were often executed by bending two and even three strings at a time, a feat made possible by his enormous hands.
But Garrett's appeal is not limited to his instrumental prowess. On his solo records and guest vocal spots scattered through discs by the Muldaurs (together and separately), he kept alive the genius of his two favorite songwriters: Hoagy Carmichael and Percy Mayfield. As this CD's subtitle avers, Get Way Back is a tribute to the latter. Any more-than-casual roots music fan will be familiar with Mayfield's songs, "Please Send Me Someone to Love" and "Hit The Road Jack", but Garrett has unearthed a treasure trove of lesser known works over the years and proffers some of them here. He has recorded a few before ("Ha Ha In The Daytime," "River's Invitation"), but they are treated to new arrangements this time around.
Percy Mayfield (not to be confused with Curtis) was born in Louisiana but his music reflects the more sophisticated R&B of Los Angeles, where he moved in the Forties. After a promising start as a singer and songwriter, an auto wreck left him disfigured and effectively ended his performing career. He retreated to his songwriting, and the morbid tendencies of his tunes reflect his tragedy. "My Jug and I" is a vision of an alcoholic who gets up in the morning only to retreat to his bed with a bottle when the blues is all he finds. "River's Invitation" tells the tale of a lovelorn fellow contemplating a gentle death by drowning.
Like all great blues, though, these songs are less about delineating depression than providing catharsis, and Garrett sees that they do the job. Blessed with a voice as big as his hands, the Detroit-born, Canadian-raised musician's baritone amply relays the darkness of Mayfield's tunes but, in blues fashion, the spirit of the singing and playing celebrate the fact that we have made it through these feelings.
Garrett emphasizes that this is a song-oriented record by letting the opening tune pass with nary a guitar fill. But guitar fans take heart: Get Way Back contains enough miraculously twisted, musical solos to make a new generation of fledgling pickers marvel." — Michael Ross, www.puremusic.com
LATEST RELEASES FROM STONY PLAIN
NEW GUITAR SUMMIT: Shivers (SPCD-1328) Three astonishing guitarists (Jay Geils, Duke Robillard and Gerry Beaudoin) tackle originals and imaginative covers, from early rock tunes to jazz standards — and are joined by Randy Bachman for two great Mose Allison songs. Released in Canada June 10, available in the U.S. and internationally July 8.
JEFF HEALEY: Mess of Blues (SPCD-1333) Jeff's final blues rock album, completed only months before his untimely death; the sheer joy of the performances on this CD have made it a best-seller, topping Billboard's blues charts. Now available in Canada on Stony Plain, and internationally via Ruf Records
AMOS GARRETT: Get Way Back: A Tribute to Percy Mayfield (SPCD-1330) A collection of 11 brilliant songs by one of the great songwriters of the r&b era, and a major influence on Garrett's storied career. The emphasis is on Amos' deep baritone voice, and there's lots of understated guitar work here as well.
Now available internationally
DUKE ROBILLARD: A Swingin' Session with Duke Robillard (SPCD-1331) With classics like "Deed I Do", "They Raided the Joint", and "When Your Lover Has Gone", Duke returns with an infectiously happy album, with an all-star band that includes Scott Hamilton and Doug James. Available world-wide on Stony Plain, and in Europe on Dixie Frog
CORB LUND: Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier! (SPCD-1327) Alternative, brave, thoughtful and fun: If only all country music was like this! And nominated for numerous Canadian Folk Music Awards and Canadian Country Music Association Awards. Now available in Canada
RONNIE EARL: Hope Radio (SPCD-1324) A stunning album of blues instrumentals with superb playing, plenty of jazz influences, and both heart and spirituality. His best received CD yet. Now available internationally
VARIOUS ARTISTS: The Gift: A Tribute to Ian Tyson (SPCD-1322). Featuring Blue Rodeo, Corb Lund, Jennifer Warnes, Gordon Lightfoot, Chris Hillman and many more. Now available internationally
>> Order these releases and our entire catalogue at stonyplainrecords.com
GET INTERACTIVE WITH STONY PLAIN
Check the new Stony Plain website to buy music, go through the back catalogue, get bio information on our artists, and read news from past newsletters: www.stonyplainrecords.com
You send snail-mail to P.O. Box 861, Edmonton, Alberta, T5J 2L8, Canada.
Our phone is (780) 468-6423. And we still have a FAX machine: (780) 465-8941.
E-mail the boss, Holger Petersen
Peter Chapman handles mail orders and web enquiries. He's at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want on this list, need media information, review or airplay copies, etc., please get in touch with newsletter editor Richard Flohil, or call him at (416) 351-1323.