Cahoots – Philosophy

Album Notes
We play our own blend of “Sonomacana” — bluesy, grassy, folky and danceable Sonoma County roots music. From originals and Americana classics to country blues and rockabilly. Named after The Band’s fourth album, Cahoots features prolific songwriter Dan Imhoff, multi-instrumentalist, Craig Anderson, comic ukulele wielding Andy Dru Rodgers, standup bassist, Andy Tester, and percussionist, Eric Backman.

In late summer of 2017, Cahoots retreated to a house in the hills of Mendocino County not far from a town called Philo. We hauled carloads of instruments up a dirt road to a house two miles from the nearest power lines. In the quiet hills we laid down live tracks on eleven songs that were later embellished with our band’s signature country gospel harmonies bolstered by the celestial singing of fellow Sonoma County artist, Alison Harris.

“Philosophy” is the result of that weekend’s dawn to midnight live sessions, along with subsequent months of careful tinkering. The gifted engineer Matt Wright recorded and mixed the songs which were later mastered by Jeffrey Norman at Mockingbird in Petaluma. From start to finish this was a 100 percent Sonoma grown creative endeavor.

Beth Snapp – Don’t Apologize

“To me, this EP is a continuation of a journey. My second project was largely an account of just coming out of a storm. I had survived, I knew things were going to get better, but there was some healing and processing to be done. As time passed, and I did the work to heal, I emerged into a new place. I realized that surviving the storm wasn’t enough. I realized I was put on this Earth to do more than survive.”

Beth Snapp is describing her new EP, tellingly titled Don’t Apologize. A collection of soothing and supple melodies, underscored by a bracing backing band, it offers astute observations about the challenges, expectations and ability to overcome obstacles — either self-imposed or those that result from outside interference. It’s a personal tale gleaned from lessons learned, from a need to face those realities and cope with them accordingly. Snapp delivers these songs with clarity and conviction, sharing universal truths that can resonate with us all.

Produced and mixed by Gar Ragland, engineered by Grammy winner Julian Dreyer, and recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, North Carolina, Don’t Apologize features a stunning array of guest contributors, including celebrated cello player and pianist Dave Eggar, guitarist Phil Faconti, Black Lillies frontman Cruz Contreras, and her band mates Jason Crawford, Jay Farmer, Kevin Jackson, and Justin Short.

Indeed, the song titles are as revealing as the expressive melodies themselves, a sequence of sound that reaches from the comforting caress of the title track, the mellow musings pervading “Princess Dream” and the restful, reassuring “Counting Down,” to the jauntily paced “Little Much,” the banjo ramble of “Easy to Love,” the upbeat urgency of “Scream” and the easy but unapologetic “Confessions of an Exhausted Thirty-Something.” It’s a set of songs that run through a gamut of emotions, doing so with both vibrancy and vulnerability.

“I wrote a collection of songs to remind me, but also those around me, that it is perfectly acceptable to not apologize for loving yourself as the imperfectly perfect soul that you are,” Snapp says. “It is acceptable — no, imperative — to be proud of yourself and what you’ve worked for. It is important to not be ashamed for putting yourself out there for any reason – be it reaching out to another person, trying something new, doing hard things, or simply being yourself.”

This is nothing new as far as Snapp’s concerned. That astute awareness is part of her DNA. As a child, she felt well connected to the Appalachian environs where she was raised. Notably, most members of her family hailed from the area of Southwest Virginia that the Carter Family once called home. Her mother, aunt and cousin sang together in a gospel trio, leaving her with an indelible impression and a determined desire to sing. By the time she was in high school, she was performing regularly at her church, at weddings and even at funerals. By the time she was completing her graduate studies, she was ready to venture out on her own and begin offering her original compositions.

“I met some fantastic bluegrass players and songwriters that took me under their wing and gave me advice on how to develop my craft,” she recalls. “I feel like I’m a bit of a late bloomer in some ways, but I’m working hard to be as quick of a study as possible.”

Clearly, she’s succeeded. Her debut album, 2014‘s That Girl in the Magazine featured contributions from Dave Eggar, Tim Stafford, Rob Ickes, and Trey Hensley as well the Stafford’s bluegrass band Blue Highway. Her sophomore set, Write Your Name Down, was released in 2017 and introduced the song “Grime and Grace,” which brought her honors that year as a semifinalist in the prestigious NewSong Songwriting Competition. It also gave her entry to open for such singular artists as Iris Dement, Scott Miller, Jill Andrews, Cruz Contreras and Dave Eggar, as well as make a series of guest appearances on albums by Eggar, Stafford and Blue Highway.

Ultimately, it earned her continued kudos from those who found themselves enticed by her unerringly accessible fusion of folk, bluegrass, roots and pure pop. Leah Ross, Executive Director of the ever-popular Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion festival, described her as a “local jewel.” Tim Stafford insists that of all the artists coming out of East Tennessee in the past two decades, “Beth is easily the most original and talented.”

Tom Netherland, writing in the Bristol Herald,” declared, “Beth Snapp sings like a cage-less bird flies. Freedom waves in her delivery of lyrics, upon the wings of which glide distinction and the boundless glory of a soul undeniable.”

Those are heady praises, but Snapp remains modest. “I feel like my career is just beginning,” she confesses. “I’ve laid some groundwork, but now I’m at a jumping off point, and it’s time to jump.”

Jump she has. With Don’t Apologize, Snapp has taken an enormous leap forward and landed safely, with her talent obvious and intact.

Pony Creek – Pott County

Pony Creek, a musical collaboration between Ryan Osbahr and Billie Frost, was formed in the spring of 2016.  Hailing from the Omaha/Council Bluffs metro, the name “Pony Creek” is derived from a small creek by the same name that runs between the duo’s homes.

In May of 2016, along with a full band consisting of Eric Nelson (guitar), Travis Goddard (guitar, banjo, mandolin), George Cooper (bass), and Tim Blair (drums), Pony Creek released their debut album Easy Way Out to critical acclaim in the Midwest.  The album was nominated for “Album of the Year” by the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards and Pony Creek was nominated for “Best Country” artist by the same institution in 2016 and 2017.  For the past two summers, Pony Creek have become regulars in the Okoboji, Iowa music scene, consistently performing in front of sold out crowds.

Playing a variety of folk, blues, Americana, country and rock, Pony Creek has quickly made a name for themselves as one of the region’s hottest new acts.  Whether playing Spencer, Iowa’s Wheels Up festival for RAGBRAI 2017, Manning Main Street RAGBRAI 2018 festival, or rocking the crowd for southwest Iowa’s Tri City BBQ Fest in Denison, Pony Creek delivers family friendly entertainment that connects with all ages.  Opening for national artists such as Jeremy McComb (Nashville), The Voice alumni Curtis Grimes (Texas), Jason Eady (Jackson, MS), Jon Langston (Nashville), and Tucker Beathard (Nashville), the band continues to gain popularity in the Midwest region.

In September of 2018, Pony Creek released its follow up album entitled Pott County, a 15 track country/rock album that draws influences from Dwight Yoakam to Kacey Musgraves.  Pott County is a mash-up of storytelling that includes small town life, heartbreak, happiness, love, family, addiction, revenge, and more.  It was recorded in Omaha, Nebraska at ARC Studios and mastered by Lurssen Mastering, a world-renowned multi-Grammy Award winning mastering studio.  Pony Creek’s music can be found on AMI Jukeboxes nationwide.

Bob Thomas – Shadows

Award winning singer/song writer Bob Thomas was born and raised in Los Angeles. First and foremost Bob is a story teller and is renowned for his music about cowboys and the old west.

Stryker Brothers – Burn Band

There’s a mythical, fraternal pair known only as the Stryker Brothers whose ghostly chords and verses have haunted the desolate Texas prairies for decades. There isn’t much known about the brothers. No legal records of the two exist. It was only a year ago that a set of original, reel-to-reel tapes were discovered. Those who had come across the Stryker Brother’s music before the tapes were discovered were rumored to be transfixed by what they’d heard… drawn in like moth to flame. Entranced.

Many drove for days into the barren Texas landscape to feel closer to the Strykers’ ghostly serenade, some never to return. So, what happened to the brothers? Did they really perish in a prison fire? Did they go into hiding? Are they ghosts, earth-bound, playing for eternity under a lonely Texas sky? Perhaps we’ll never know, but it is said that during the hottest Texas summer nights — if you listen carefully — you can hear their intoxicating melodies playing amid the moonlit shadows on those desolate desert plains.

Braden Gates – Pictures Of Us

BRADEN GATES is writing hard hitting topical songs giving us a street
view of our times and that are delivered with honesty and conviction.
PICTURES OF US is his fourth album – his first release on Borealis
Records.

Comanche Moon – Country Music Deathstar

Mark Erikson (MHE): We get asked a lot, “what kind of music do y’all play?” It’s always been kind of a tough question for us because it really has more to do with what we were listening to growing up than it does with current genre categories. In the sense that our sound is country, it’s because we grew up in the country listening to a lot of 90s country like George Strait, Chris LeDoux and Garth Brooks, as well as traditional forms like bluegrass and old cowboy fiddle tunes. But we also listened to a lot of bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Allman Brothers Band, and that kind of music had a huge influence on our sound. So when people ask about our sound, you can spend a paragraph saying that, or you can just call it “Country Music Deathstar.”

The Hangin’ Cowboys – West

The Hangin’ Cowboys are a high-energy country band. They can make the audience laugh, cry, shout and sing. The Hangin’ Cowboys sound is firmly rooted in the traditional sound of Americana. 


Band members include:
SHAUN SPARKS: Lead vocals acoustic guitar
JEFF “FANNY” SCHNITTKER: Electric guitar, vocals
RUSS EIKERMAN: Bass, boots
“SMALL DAVE” MERRITT: Keys & Oratory
“Mello” Matt Ihrig: Drums

The Hot Seats – Stupid Mountain Too Big

PF HotSeat here, ready to provide you with useful (?) information about the songs and tunes and general feeling of this new album. The album is called Stupid Mountain Too Big. Yup, that’s what it’s called. Ben came up with the name and idea, and I wrote the song to accompany it. I guess it started as an attempt to write a bunch of songs with faux nostalgia for the things that occupy the mindspace of oh so many country songs – home, trains, love, mountains, old time living, etc. It took a turn somewhere, and we basically have two albums in one – one that hits on this aforementioned conceit, and one that tells a general story of life, from procreation all the way to the inevitable realization of the inconsequential nature of existence. You know: life. The second one contains some actual nostalgia and sentiment, something we have strayed form a bit as a band, but hey, we’re 17 years old now, on the edge of adulthood, and we have become reflective. Or shiny, we might just be shiny.

We had a lot to say, and hadn’t made an album in nearly 3 years, so it’s a long album, more reminiscent of those that we put out in 2002-3. You may notice some different instrumentation here, you may notice some stripped-down tracks as well. Being all spread out and busy, we have to be spry and improvisational. We tried different arrangements and brought new people into the studio to make up for those that couldn’t make the dates. We said to ourselves, “the time for banjos and accordion has come.” And the skies parted, and black rain fell at our feet. Nevertheless, we persisted.

What makes a band? Is it 5 pairs of legs with accompanying feet? Is it desire? The will to spend a lifetime together, crammed into a moving box or flying tube? Is it the name? It’s probably the name. We’ve had two names, one was questionable, the other one is too. What isn’t questionable is that we are a band, I’ve seen it in print. .38 Special is also a band. You ever heard Hold On Loosely? Or Hang On Sloopy? Never really understood how I could lose control if I was holding on tightly, not until I entered pubescence, anyway.

But hey, you’re not here for that kind of talk, you wanna hear about the songs, amirite? There’s an arc to some of the songs, a separate arc to others, and others stand alone as dots on a featureless plane. All told, I’m envisioning some kind of double banana situation with gnats flying around them, floating gracefully in the vacuum of space. I’d like to see .38 Special write a song about THAT! 

Kara Grainger – Living With Your Ghost

 

Living with Your Ghost is a rich gumbo of different emotions. own, a relentlessly seductive, distinctly modern take on roots rock, blues, and Americana

Album Notes
Some people just have music running through their veins. Kara Grainger’s musical journey has
taken her all around the globe. From her inner city beginnings in the town of Balmain, Sydney
Australia, she’s since performed and toured in Japan, Indonesia, India, Switzerland, Germany,
England and the USA . Her sultry, mesmerizing vocals and fiery approach to blues and slide
guitar has caught the attention of many well-respected artists. She has opened shows for Peter
Frampton, Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Taj Mahal, Marc Cohn and Eric Johnson to name a few.

Around one year ago, Kara headed to Wire studios in Austin, Texas to record “Living With Your
Ghost”. The album was co-produced by Grammy award winner Anders Osborne, who also lends
his soulful guitar and vocals to the project. The album was engineered by Stuart Sullivan, also a
Grammy award winner, and the band included Ivan Neville on keys, The Texas Horns, J.J.
Johnson on drums, and Dave Monsey on bass.

The new album is a rich gumbo of different emotions and musical influences. There’s plenty of
reflection on the past, and a yearning for people that have come and gone; this is evident in the
title track, “Living With Your Ghost”, and the song “Nowhere to be Found”. “Working My Way
Back Home” tells about the struggle of love and life on the road as a traveling musician, while
songs like “Groove Train” and “You’re in New Orleans” uplift you from the day to day grind and
just leave you feeling good.