“Dystopian Dreams” by Ernie Hendrickson, from the album “Roll On”

 

Recorded live on the floor with the most minimal of overdubs, Roll On represents Ernie’s art at its most direct carefully worked out. This is not a paradox, this combination of craft and spontaneity. The contributions of Brian Deck, who has helmed great recordings by Americana and rock artists Iron & Wine, Josh Ritter and Counting Crows. was, as Ernie enthusiastically admits, crucial to the process. Equally important is the sympathetic, muscular playing by a crack studio band that included guitarist and pedal steel player Brian Wilkie, bassist Pete Muschong, drummer Gerald Dowd and keyboardist John Kattke. Several songs are enriched by horn arrangements that suggest Dixieland jazz on riverboats on the Mississipi and Randy Newman. Roll On is a true fusion of songcraft and sound, and represents Ernie’s artistry as writer, singer and player in its fullest form.

“Promised Land” by Heathcote Hill, from the album “Fight Another Day”

 

Fresh from the top of the playlist that is the brand new album Fight Another Day, Promised Land kicks things off with a heavy folk-rock, Americana-soaked core, and a contrastingly delicate, soulful vocal that’s quickly inviting.

As the track builds, it gathers momentum in a natural, organic and brilliantly entrancing manner. At the same time, the lyrics work hard to create this poetic yet deeply thoughtful story-line around listeners, enveloping them entirely in this ambient, rhythmic world of imagery and promises of a better place.

Coming in at just under the three minute mark, Promised Land sounds bigger than it ought to – the latter half in particular sees flickers of detail subtly add hints of further power and colour that really helps increase that weight and rising energy implied by the beginning. Again, the vocal continues to hold close to its smooth and seductive nature – a quality that runs throughout the album, undoubtedly giving Heathchote Hill a sound that’s entirely their own; and one that captivates beautifully.

 

Captain Blood the Vampirate by Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers

Nashville’s favorite pirates tell the tale of Captain Blood, the pirate vampire cursed to sail the seas for eternity searching for plunderable blood.

Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers is a merry band of Nashville musicians who dress like pirates and play a rollicking mix of piratical sing-alongs, rousing historical rave-ups, afro-cuban tinged ballads, Cajun sea shanties, and bluesy Irish jigs, celebrating the days when the seas were ruled by great sailing ships. They offer family-friendly entertainment, sometimes playing a family stage early and a late night set for adults.

“Banker and a Liar” by Driftwood Soldier, from the album “Stay Ahead of the Wolf”

“Banker and a Liar” is a single from Driftwood Soldier’s 2019 album Stay Ahead of the Wolf. The only cover on the album, it was originally written by Greg Cartwright of Reigning Sound and hits an important note railing against corporate greed and pitiful practice of selling your soul for a quick buck.

 

“The Dreamer” by Che Apalache, from the album “Rearrange My Heart”

 

The band’s Joe Troop explains that “The Dreamer” is inspired by the story of Moises Serrano, a North Carolina-based friend of his whose story is the basis of the documentary film Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America.

“As I wrote these lyrics, I worked closely with Moises in order to accurately convey his story, that of a DACA dreamer born in Mexico and raised in North Carolina, a state that makes life very difficult for undocumented people,” Troop says. “Undocumented immigrants in North Carolina are relentlessly villainized and rarely given a voice in regional media. This song attempts to humanize them.”

Sonically, the song pulls from the band’s diverse influences, which include bluegrass, flamenco, folk and rock. Troop, a North Carolina native, met the rest of Che Apalache while living in Argentina; both guitarist Franco Martino and mandolin player Martin Bobrik hail from Argentina, while banjo player Pau Barjau is from Mexico.