Bernie Griffen and the Thin Men – Doors Wide Open

In his sixth decade Bernie Griffen continues to write, perform and produce music seasoned and deepened by the hard-won experience of his years and his musical journeying.

I see hawks in L.A – live and never learn

I SEE HAWKS IN L.A. formed in the first year of the 21st century on a desert journey that has led to seven releases,UK/Europe and U.S. tours, and way too much fun. Alt country folk rock with rich harmonies and a way outsider approach to Americana.

Author: Peter Churchill

I See Hawks in L.A. “Live and Never Learn” (Blue Rose, 2018)





Kenny James & Friends

Album Notes

Kenny James retired from life as a Network Administrator in a mid-size mid-western town in late 2016. He immediately returned to the life he had given up years before – as a singer/musician/entertainer and sometimes songwriter. He and his wife Donna sold the family home, bought an RV and began looking for a place where the musical tastes fit the music that had always been in his heart. Even though traditional country music had been starved from the airwaves, it was still loved by many and he knew he could find an audience who would share his musical tastes. And where better to look than in the Hill Country of Texas! Kenny spent as much time as he could listening to and playing with the many of the outstanding artists in and around the Bandera, Texas area and this album is in large part derived from the musical legacy of that area. Kenny went to his son, Ken Pearsall, who worked at a recording school in Madison, WI, to engineer the tracks and he went to his many friends to lend their talents to the recordings. Many had played country music most of their lives. For all involved, this was a labor of love. You will find a list of the musicians and the instruments they played on the liner notes on the album and below. We all hope you enjoy the music!

Lee Miller, Steel Guitar & Harmony Vocals
Lance Massey, Lead Guitar, Harmony Vocals
Glenn “Junior” Moore, Bass Fiddle
Jesse Armstrong, Cajon
Randy Myatt, Lead Guitar
Gary “The Voice” McAdams, Harmony Vocals and Vocal Arrangements
Ken Pearsall, Archtop Guitar, Recording Engineer, Mixing Engineer, Mastering Engineer
Steve Doiel, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Harmony Vocals
Biff Blumfumgagnge, Fiddle
Eric Nofsinger, Fiddle
Kenny James, Acoustic Guitar, Lead Guitar, Accordion, Bass Guitar, Lead & Harmony Vocals, Arrangements, Songwriter and Producer

Jess Silk – Break the Bottle

Jess Silk is a singer songwriter from Dudley who has been penning songs since her early teens. Over the past few years herstyle has developed into a husky, shouty brand of folk music that often has her being likened to a female Frank Turner or Billy Bragg. With two self produced EPs, Jess gigs a lot around the Black Country and Birmingham

Tony Barge – The Man with the Blues

Album Notes
Tony Barge has spent a great deal of his lifetime performing real classic country music, great country lyrics built around fiddles and steel guitar. Mr. Barge has opened shows for such notable acts as Hank Thompson, Merle Haggard, Brad Paisley, Faron Young, Tommy Cash, Joanne Cash Yates, Teea Goans, Freddie Fender, Bill Anderson, Kitty Wells, Jack Greene, Johnny Counterfit, Crockett Frizzell, Darrell McCall, and many more. Tony often got the call to play bass guitar for Country Music HOF Member ‘the late” Hank Thompson when he would be on tour in PA, OH, and WV. This is Tony Barge’s first album since his acclaimed “EMPTY PLACES” album in 2002. This current project features a nice, jazzy rendition of the title cut “Man With The Blues”, an early Willie Nelson song. Other country classics appear on this new project, including songs penned by Hank Thompson and Hank Cochran: “Heartaches By The Number” and “If She Could See Me Now” both originally cut by the Master Vocalist Ray Price. Barge also covers a song written and previously cut by Justin Trevino, titled “TEXAS HONKY TONK”. Barge also penned two of the songs on his album: A sad country ballad called “Mama’s Gone, Daddy’s Gone Crazy”. At the request of a friend, after his father passed away of cancer, Barge was asked to write a song about this man’s Father. The song is titled “Daddy Was A Rock”. Special note from Tony Barge: Thanks for taking the time to read this artist profile and for purchasing my music. It is always greatly appreciated by an Independent artist.

Ike Reilly – Crooked Love

Since his major label debut, the groundbreaking Salesmen and Racists, Ike Reilly has been making punk/folk/blues influenced rock ’n’ roll records that lean heavily on stories of outsiders with keen details and broad strokes that insinuate a crack in the American dream. Reilly’s band, The Assassination, has been called one of the best live bands in America, and the body of recorded work they’ve turned out has been poetic, rebellious, wholly original, and critically acclaimed.

Still, Reilly and co-producer Phil Karnats (Secret Machines, Tripping Daisy, Polyphonic Spree) felt that Reilly’s best takes had never been recorded. The lucidity and rhythm of Reilly’s performances that Karnats had witnessed in hotel rooms, backstage, and on tour buses had never been captured. “I wanted to create a setting where lil’ Ike could sing and play guitar at the same time, with the band in the same room… no headphones and minimal isolation,” says Karnats. “There’s always been a freshness to playing the songs together that’s hard to harness when recording in the more common, modern, sense where you do rhythm tracks first, then overdubs and vocals last. This time, Ike did his thing and we developed the arrangements based on his vocal approach, cadence, phrasing, intensity and all that. I think, in the end, we ended up with some killer songs that have a strangely unique, slightly off-center, vibe.” The resulting album, Crooked Love, is Reilly’s seventh studio album and comes out May 18, 2018 on Rock Ridge Music.

From the apocalyptic playfulness of “Missile Site,” to the weary let’s-get-it-on abandon of “Don’t Turn Your Back on Friday Night,” to the escapist urgency of “Boltcutter Again,” to the gnarly, percolating groove drip of “Clean Blood Blues,” Crooked Loveshows how Reilly has landed himself squarely in the raw, emotional zeitgeist of the times. “Chasing that timeless feel in a time like 2018 can be a tall order but we did it,” Reilly admits. “Nobody sounds like this… musically or sonically. It’s fucking authentic. I never made a record before that sounds like this.”

Indeed, this collection of succinct, tight-but-loose songs reflects the continuing evolution of Reilly’s ever-visceral wordsmithing, as married with a Murderer’s Row of backing tracks forged out of the intuitive interplay of his longstanding Assassination bandmates — guitarist Karnats, bassist Peter Cimbalo, drummer David Cottini, and guitarist/ keyboardist Adam Krier. Not to mention the input of a few special guests, too, including guitarist Tommy O’Donnell, pianist Ed Tinley, and saxophonists Mars Williams and Bill Overton, as well as family legacies Mickey Reilly on vocals and Peter John Cimbalo on drums.

One reason said vibe was so perfectly met on Crooked Love is how its content was ultimately born out of the core band’s innate reaction to the material before them. “The ability to not overplay is everything,” Reilly feels. “It’s something that’s hard to do, but these guys I play with — they know what they’re doing. They hear my songs, they interpret and color them… not with musical clichés but with interesting parts that help distinguish my songs from the run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter shit you hear. They’re the best players, no showboat bullshit, and our collective musical knowledge and taste has evolved, for better or worse, in the same direction.”

One Crooked song that Reilly feels is the lynchpin to the record is “Been Let Down,” which moves from shuffle to backstab in the blip of a heartbeat. “We had a loose structure to ‘Been Let Down,’ but nothing written in stone, no exact measures to the instrumental parts,” Reilly says. “I had words but mostly images that I was gonna fit into spaces… no exact lengths to choruses. On the surface it’s got a John Lee Hooker vibe, but slightly tweaked. We were all in the same room no headphones or any of that shit, and really all I could hear was the rhythm section and myself. When we listened to the playback I was blown away. It was so off-kilter, really fucking fresh. The guitar and keyboard parts worked in and around my harp and vocal like we had charts. I was blown away by this take and the beauty of the recording.”

The album’s opener, “Livin’ in the Wrong Time,” also evokes a certain kind of “real feel,” with a cool, steely tone and a psychotically festive sonic twist during its ear-grabbing solo section. “I had this melody for a horn part that I just sang during the instrumental section, so that I wouldn’t forget it,” Reilly recounts. “Phil really deconstructed or distorted my vocal with some gizmo that had a tube in it, and Adam doubled the melody with a ratty keyboard. It’s a really urgent sound — it’s disarming and catchy.” Reilly concludes with a hearty chuckle, “That part always leads me to break into some kind of perverse dance!  It seems to makes everyone who hears it want to do something kind of strange and jerky, like some kind of weird shuffle.”

What that track also shows is how much Crooked Love shares the timeless quality that records that stand the test of time are able to evoke. “I’ve always been trying to get that timeless sense all along, but I think this record actually does do that,” Reilly concedes. “I know I’ve fallen into the modern trap a couple of times in my recordings and with some of my lyrics maybe being a little too in the moment at times, but I hope I’ve been able to achieve something else with the direction and attitude of this one.”

Walking that fine line between being topical and universal is another goal Reilly wanted to attain with this album. “I’m not sure if all the songs reflect what’s going on right now,” Reilly says. “You know, Trump’s insane behavior, racism and classism out in the open, a new nuclear threat, the planet’s demise. The songs were written under the shadow of all of that, but most people still just need and want love, affection, sex, and the simple pleasures of human contact. I have optimism for society and for its survival, though I am pretty fatalistic in the sense of, ‘This is what it is. It’s right here, it’s right now, and this is it.’ That can either drive you crazy or motivate you to squeeze every last drop out of it, you know?”

We know it well, in fact, for Crooked Love is as haunting and straight-shooting into the heart as anything you’ll hear this year. And that’s also how you know you’re living in the right time.


Ike Reilly – Vocals, Guitar, Harp • Peter Cimbalo – Bass, Percussion • David Cottini – Drums, Percussion, Vocals • Phil Karnats – Guitar •  Tommy O’Donnell – Guitar • Adam Krier – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals


Arnold Connelly – Here… I Am

This is a Country Music Album with a Modern Sound recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with Music Valley Recording Studios. The album will have you laughing, singing, dancing and crying.

The music on the album is from the heart. Most of the songs are true and tell a story within the lyrics. It is an emotional record that will cause the listener to laugh, sing, dance and even cry. This is a great album …Traditional Country Music with a Modern Sound.

Rockin’ Dopsie Jr & The Zydeco Twisters – Rockin Zydeco

Rockin’ Dopsie Jr & The Zydeco Twisters are one of the most requested bands for Corporate Events, Casinos, Fairs and Festivals. Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. (pronounced Doopsie) is considered the ultimate entertainer bringing a high energy stage show that has led to him being called the James Brown of Zydeco, but that’s not all – throw in some New Orleans Funkiness with a Gumbo of Soul, R N B and the Dopsie brothers Anthony on accordian and Tiger on drums plus the top notch musicianship of The Zydeco Twisters and you have the best high energy show around.


“When Rockin’ Dopsie, Sr. unexpectedly passed away in 1993, the Dopsie family vowed to keep his memory alive, mainly in the incarnation of this band, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters. In doing so, it’s become its own phenomenon. No other zydeco band has ever been fronted by a washboard player. It’s usually the accordionist, and it’s also a safe bet that there’s never been such a flamboyant personality as Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr., who can turn a house upside down on a moment’s notice.”The word zydeco is derived from the French les haricots (which translated means string beans), and which is pronounced “lay zah ree’ co.” One supposes that this music must have been played during the harvesting of the bean crop. Little by little, “zah ree’ co” evolved into zydeco.

Zydeco music is a bubbling, melodic gumbo concocted from Cajun/Acadian music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms and melodies, and blues. Over the past few years, this funky and highly danceable music has broken out of its Southern Louisiana breeding ground to enjoy widespread popularity throughout the world.

Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. (pronounced Doop’ see) & The Zydeco Twisters are the greatest living practitioners of this music. Dopsie, Jr. presents zydeco with the conviction and authenticity of its rich heritage. His earliest musical memories are of his father’s accordion playing. Dopsie, Jr. was given a basic accordion by his father at the age of nine. He taught himself to play, as had his father, by listening to and playing along with the radio.

“I really loved that sound, but I needed more mobility so I could jump up and down and do my splits, you know. I must’ve inherited my love for the blues from my father ’cause I still listen to BB King, Jimmy Reed, the Vaughn Brothers and Bobby Bland, but when I was growing up, the Jackson Five, Sly Stone and James Brown were really happening.” Both genres are evident in Dopsie, Jr.’s performances.

He played in several bands in his early teens, but at age 21 was given his first rub board, a must for the authentic presentation of zydeco. The rub board was his ticket to joining his father’s band, in which he became an official member in 1982. Dopsie, Jr. was then able to play the music that he loved, while dancing like the psychedelic stars of the time.

The team of father and son netted the band international notoriety. Today the Zydeco Twisters’ sole leader is Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. His brother, Tiger Dopsie, is the band’s drum virtuoso and maintains the highly danceable beat. Anthony Dopsie, a great accordion player, replaced his father in the band playing the button accordion in a manner similar to his father’s, but with the fervor of youth.

Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. and The Zydeco Twisters have continued to develop in their own right. The junior Dopsie is considered to be the best rub board player in the world, and is a charismatic and electrifying stage performer. His dancing, splits, and audience participation antics make the band’s performances exciting and keep listeners involved and dancing.

Besides having performed extensively on their own tours, the band has shared the stage with Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt, BB King, The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, and Jimmy Buffet. In 1978 they performed on the song That Was Your Mother (Standing On The Corner In Lafayette, Louisiana), which was released on Paul Simon’s multi-platinum Grammy award-winning album Graceland. The band has also recorded with Cindy Lauper and Bob Dylan (Oh, Mercy&emdash;1989.)

In 1994, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters performed at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, on the occasion of the presentation of the late Rockin’ Dopsie’s crown (he was indeed “the King of Zydeco”) for permanent exhibit. Rockin’ Dopsie, his band, and zydeco music were honored by this historic event as they had never been honored before.

Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters, still referred to as “Zydeco’s Royal Family,” have performed in Australia, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, and many other countries as well as throughout the United States. They have appeared at the most prestigious music festivals and fairs at home and abroad.

The band has made television commercials for Burger King, the Louisiana Lottery, Close-Up toothpaste, Community coffee, Maalox, Danny and Clyde’s and Popeye’s Fried Chicken. They also appeared in the movie Delta Heat which featured several tracks from their Atlantic album.

They were the house band for the Gayle King Show in January of 1998, the house band on Live With Regis And Kathie Lee in January 1999, house band for a week on Wheel Of Fortune in January 2000, played with Harry Connick, Jr. at the Orpheus Ball in New Orleans during Mardi Gras ’98,’99 and ’01, entertained President Clinton and the White House press corps on the White House lawn in September 1999, and danced and sang at the Chicago House of Blues with Dan Aykroyd in May 2000. In February of 2002, Dopsie and his brothers performed with Britney Spears and Mystikal on MTV’s two-hour Mardi Gras special.

Dopsie really heats things up whenever he and the band perform. Above all else, they create a high-energy, audience participation, dance ’til you drop, dynamic show. It all begins when you hear, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters!”

The Band…

Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr.
(David Rubin)
Rub Board and Vocals

Tiger Dopsie
(Alton Rubin, Jr.)
Drums and Vocals

Anthony Dopsie
(Anthony Rubin)

Yasmin Williams – Unwind

In her debut album, “Unwind,” fingerstyle guitarist Yasmin Williams expands the sonic capabilities of the acoustic guitar and reimagines what’s possible on the instrument.

Album Notes
“Watching Yasmin Williams perform is mesmerizing. Her music is gorgeously mellow and rhythmic, but the most captivating part of her performance is the way she plays the guitar. Williams holds the guitar horizontally, so the fretboard faces upwards and she hits the strings to sound the notes, a style called “lap-tapping.” –

“As Leo Tolstoy once expressed, “Music is the shorthand of emotion”. It expresses the inexpressible. Music makes us dance. It makes us think, laugh, scream or cry; and, when it comes to Yasmin Williams, music makes us feel.” – NYU Palladium

“Yasmin is a unique talent. Her melodies pack a poignant dose of resonance and levity – a testament of the quiet confidence that comes across in her performances.” – NYU Palladium

“Yasmin Williams, who strummed, drummed and plucked her acoustic guitar to create a plethora of sound, created the effect of multiple instruments playing at once.” – Washington Square News

Allison Bencar – On The Run

Allison Bencar-
By Jim Asker

“Where I’m going no one knows and fewer souls dare to go..I’m just headed where the wind blows”-Allison Bencar

The Allison Bencar story begins in Cleveland, Ohio. That makes total sense, considering that many of the great Rock historians believe that Rock n’ Roll was also conceived there.

Chatting with Allison you might think that she was plopped into the wrong era. Some of her musical heroes and inspirations include Roy Orbison, Fleetwood Mac, Patsy Cline, The Beatles, Selena, and many more; from Johnny Cash to Garbage to Karen Carpenter. Karen Carpenter was a big one for Allison—“Yes Karen Carpenter was actually huge for me. She made me feel good about having a low voice. As a little girl I felt like she sang with her whole heart.”
Allison Bencar sings with her whole heart and then some. In using all of those influences, she makes her music her own. She’s not stuck in the past, but she sure has a good sense of it; she’s a modern girl with a big soul.
Allison’s first album is, “First Call.” The styles range from stripped down Country to sultry ballads to blistering Rock, and everything in between. It’s a rare artist that can handle so many variations and not sound clichéd. Bencar doesn’t only handle it; those styles all come to her naturally. Unlike a lot of things we see and hear today. She is authentic.
Allison grew up with a family that encouraged her and rooted for her right from the beginning. “I was 10 when I began singing,” said Allison. My mom and dad were always supportive, and my Aunt Nancy was an enormous advocate too. She was really the first to encourage me as a child singer.’’
By the time Allison was a teen, everyone was noticing that the girl was destined to follow a musical path. “I’d go down in the basement and sing stuff like “Crazy,” by Patsy Cline. My parents loved it. That encouragement made me want to go further. My mom was the one who introduced me to Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison, and she also got me into the school choir. Later it was my dad who encouraged me to step into a recording studio for the first time. My parents were, and remain still, incredible advocates.”

After performing at family functions and weddings, Allison found her way into a recording studio when she was 15. She took her share of voice lessons and after graduating from high school, Allison entered college at Cleveland State. She kept at her songwriting and singing while in college, honing her skills. Allison graduated with a degree in voice and theatre.
Following her path, by 2012 Allison made the move to Nashville. She wasn’t looking for an appearance on one of the ‘hit maker,’ shows like The Voice or Idol; she simply wanted to make music. “I definitely want to play my music for as many people as possible,” said Bencar. “However, having control over my career and my music is important to me. I’ve always had to fight for what I want, so to be honest I don’t really think about my career in a competitive sense with other artists. I just forge my own path”
That path led to Nashville’s Eastwood Studio in late 2013 to begin work on her album “First Call.” Allison likes to collaborate, so she enlisted her friend and fellow Cleveland native, Rob Muzick to co-produce with her. “Rob and I do a lot of co-writing, and it’s a great creative partnership.”
All of the eleven tracks on “First Call,” were either written or co-written by Allison. The entire eleven tracks stand on their own, each its own story.

Now in 2018, Allison is gearing up to release her sophomore album, On the Run this spring with her engineer/co-producer husband, Jared Delaney. This is an 11 track concept album about self-discovery, grit and adventure. It also features many of Allison and Jared’s talented Nashville friends. “This has truly been a labor of love and such a wonderful experience making this album with some of my closest friends here. We made every session a chance to share a meal and hang out, ” says Allison.

“I love the social aspect of music. The relationships I have made with my band mates just makes for a greater chemisty and family vibe on stage.”

On the Run is vibey Outlaw Pop with a retro soul.  You will hear some of Allison’s influences like Fleetwood Mac, Kacey Musgraves and The Eagles to name a few.

Allison Bencar serves her talent with a strong and dedicated work ethic; in between her own shows in and around Nashville, she cuts demos and constantly writes.
So where is this young woman Allison Bencar headed—she sees the entire journey as a long and open road. “There should never be a destination,” says Allison.
“Music is what I am meant to do but not just for me and my own joy. I have a responsibility to use my gift for the good of others; to make them smile, to make them laugh, to let them know they are not alone and sometimes to just be a light in their darkest moments. To me music is the greatest art form because it is a language we all understand. No matter what happens, music lives forever. My songs are about being in the moment– living right now so that we never forget how right now feels.”
For more information on Allison Bencar visit