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 www.allisonbencar.com.

Bri Murphy – Things We’d Rather Not Say

Plaintive and soaring, Things We’d Rather Not Say waltzes out of your speakers with the breezy ease that comes from a life steeped in melody.

Album Notes
Plaintive and soaring, Things We’d Rather Not Say waltzes out of your speakers with the breezy ease that comes from a life steeped in melody.

Determined to be particular in her work, Murphy decided to take the project out of her current haunt of Nashville and back to her hometown. She settled in to Pine Hollow studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Turning to studio owner (and sound engineer for The National) Evan Middlesworth for co-production, Murphy reached out to old high school classmates Ben Lester (Tallest Man on Earth, S. Carey) and Dave Power (The Staves, AeroFlynn) and local legend Robbie Weisshaar to track the record. Oh, and her dad came up to play keys.

Recorded during a cold snap – it didn’t get above 0 the whole time they were recording – the record has the warm glow of thick sweaters and crackling fires. Tracked mostly live, the band would start by just working through a song until the energy felt right and hitting record. The magical sessions got an extra dose of pixie dust at the hands of mixing engineer Jerry Streeter (Brandi Carlile, Vance Joy, Elephant Revival) and mastering savant Gavin Lurssen (Alison Krauss, Sheryl Crow, Loretta Lynn).

Holistically, Murphy approaches her work with the goal of always seeking the light. “I hope people take away a sense of hope and love from this record,” says Murphy. “More than anything, I hope they find some pieces of the beauty, magic, and light we created up in the Northwoods when we were weaving these songs into a record, that they can carry with them through these strange and somewhat dark times.”

Jeremy Parsons – Things I Need To Say

“Things I Need To Say” has Jeremy Parsons embark on a great journey, with a tender folk style informing the entirety of the album. Details matter a great detail from the tenderness of the fiddle to the reassuring vocals that grace every track. Best of all the entire album comes together as a great story, with each song yet another chapter. Lyrics emphasize the daunting demands that life often requires in order to truly excel. Opting for such a style the colorful rush of melody and rhythm further adds to the soothing nature.  Stylistically the pieces are rooted in folk, with elements of chamber pop, country, rock, and even the blues coming into a singular whole.

 

On “Makin’ Things Up As I Go” Jeremy Parsons starts the album on a high note, as the light sunny sound goes for a celebratory spirit. Much more introspective in nature is the gentle” Life”. A distinctly western twang with fine slide guitar frames the powerful “Circumstance”. Blues informs the swinging “Purpose”. Slowing things down into a languid pace the contemplative “Lisa’s Lost” goes through the sad events that unfortunately can take a prominent place in a person’s life. Light flourishes work wonders on the dreamy “After All These Years”. With an autumnal flavor “Things I Need To Say” serves as the highlight of the album, guided with a strong sense of honesty. Nicely bringing the album together is the delicate “Why Is The Bluebird Blue”.

 

Jeremy Parsons crafts an album with a unique vision, one that feels earnest, honest, and so real.

Cat Canteri – Inner North

Singer-songwriter Cat Canteri has been slowly been building herself an impressive career that now numbers three solo albums.

The sense of patience, self-determination and the evolution and refinement of her songwriting makes Inner North her most rewarding record to date.

Canteri’s ability to drift between styles is a real strength and the way she does it so seamlessly is a testament to her versatility. Primarily this is an album of contemporary folk music, both electric and acoustic, yet it also draws on indie rock and pop, country music, jazz and languid blues. Opener The Only One is as ragged as she gets, with her ringing Ryan Adams-styled guitar balanced by her warm and rich vocal tone. Canteri’s singing is prominent in the mix throughout this album and it impresses with dips into deep soul on Remember The Time and pure, rollicking country on How Crazy I’ve Been. One of the strongest moments on the album is the exquisitely presented, heart-wrenching tale of Bridget Agnew.

Reminiscent of the sound of Joan Armatrading, Eleanor Friedberger and the occasional flash of Joni Mitchell, Canteri’s album is a wonderful sonic snapshot of Melbourne’s inner north, past and present, through the eyes of the people that inhabit these suburbs.

Jim Chesnut – I Sure Do Miss My Hair

Jim Chesnut creates Americana country music with both melody and story.

 

Album Notes
I found a malignant tumor at the base of my tongue in June of 2017. I stopped performing for several months during treatment and watched several hundred hours of NCIS reruns. I love that show.

During that time I wondered if I would ever be able to produce another album; but, as I slowly began to regain my strength, I began to tire of the sofa and started writing songs again; and here are a few of them.

I would like to thank and recognize three talented musicians for their invaluable contributions to this collection. First, my feisty friend, Jerry Blanton, played pedal steel and lead nylon guitar. Second, A-list studio player, Alan Kolby, played lead electric guitar, and third, Don McRee (who never quits ’till he gets it right) played harmonica.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize my muse and wife, Christine, for her unwavering love and support through this ordeal. I have included a newly recorded version of I’ll Love You Forever (our wedding song) on this album to express my undying gratitude to her for her presence in my life. She inspired two other songs, Just in the Nick of Time and Before I Met You, which are also included in the album. It ain’t easy being married to mercurial me!

This CD would not be possible if not for the San Antonio medical professionals who treated and cared for me during this uncertain time. Dr. Richard Newman (an ENT specialist) referred me to Dr. Lon Smith (an oncologist) at the START Center, which is staffed by an incredible group of people—so caring and proficient. Dr. Mark Weinstein (a dermatologist) took care of some chemo-caused lesions on my scalp and neck.

Finally, I wish to thank my friends Daniel Laser, Jim Hartwell and Rick Dryden who drove and/or accompanied me to a variety of appointments during the treatment months. I could not have done this without your help.
—Jim C.

Texas Heat – That Hot and Blue Guitar

Bernd Wolf, Texas Heat, February 3, 2018

I really have to tell you all about our new album, “That Hot And Blue Guitar”. We’ll release it on Friday, February 23, 2018. It’ll almost coincide with Johnny Cash’s birthday on February 26, but that is not intentional. It just so happens, even though this is an album about Johnny Cash. But let’s start at the beginning.

“There’s this great studio around the corner from where I live. I’d like to record a band there. How about it, Bernd?” These may have not been the exact words, but that’s how it all started. My friend Danny Hendriks, now formerly frontman and lead singer of the Music Road Pilots, started talking to me about “this studio”. De Moor Studios in Wijchen in the Netherlands, that’s what he was talking about. Texas Heat hadn’t recorded anything in years, and all our old CDs were long sold out, and I wasn’t allowed to have them repressed or use the recordings in any form. Since these were all my songs, though, songs I had written, I could always go back and record them again. This was the time. I thought we needed a PureCASH album to sell at our shows, and get this Johnny Cash theme done and settled to be able to move forward. So, with a lot of planning and checking different schedules, we went to Wijchen in November. It hurt to not be able to see my son Dean on his birthday, the first time ever in 17 years, but it was the only weekend that worked. So Elli, Jens, Gunnar and myself hit the road and drove to Wijchen. We checked into our B&B somewhere in the vicinity, and with great excitement, we drove over to the studio. Danny greeted us and introduced us to the studio owner, Jules Peters. What a nice guy! And looking around the recording room, I knew this was gonna be great if we managed to play well. Three days… well, two and a half, actually, of hard work lay ahead. Sunday at around 6pm, we stopped the session. We had recorded all eleven songs with the full band, worked on individual tracks here and there, recorded some extra guitars and left the rest for another weekend. We had to record the vocals and record some more guitars. We went home tired and happy, knowing there was more hard work waiting in the future. There was one moment on this weekend where I knew that the album was going to be great. Danny and I listened to “Etta’s Tune”, a song written by Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal about Etta and Marshall Grant that we recorded for this album, when Elli came into the control room and said, “Is this us? Really? Cool!” From the very first note on that we recorded, I knew Danny was the right guy to record us.

Two months later, in January 2018, Elli and I drove out to that area again to record the remaining guitars and all the vocals (we had recorded scratch vocals while recording the band, of course). Saturday morning, we started the second round of recordings in the attic of Danny’s house. The guitars came in great, a little editing here and there, and then it was time to start singing. Danny had a number of great studio mics. We tested them all, recorded some lines and compared, then made a decision as to who would sing through which microphone. The fun we had recording the band in November was at least repeated, if not doubled. Three singers… three Country singers, that is, supporting each other to get the timings, the phasings, the notes, the sound and, most importantly, the emotions down on tape… ah, excuse me, hard disc. If I hadn’t experienced it in November, it would have become more than obvious here what a hard worker with great ears Danny is. What a pleasure to work with him! We ended up getting everything recorded by Sunday night. Erwin Van De Ven, a supernice guy, great Bluegrass picker and great repairsman, dropped by on Sunday to bring Danny a guitar he had worked on. And since he brought his mandolin, we thought there certainly was room on our record for a Gibson F5. You can hear him beautify “Redemption Day”, a Sheryl Crow song that we arranged the Texas Heat way. It now has a certain Bluegrass touch. A Gibson F5 and a Fender Tele on the same song, that’s as close as I could come to also salute my other hero, Marty Stuart.

Going home that night, I knew I could have recorded the one or other extra guitar here and there, but the album was really done. Mixing was next, and sending tracks back and forth by Whatsapp sure is a modern way of working together. And I was yet to get in touch with the last person missing in this puzzle, and to say the best was saved for last would not be fair towards Danny and Erwin and my band, but Dion Vermaes sure was worth the wait. Dion mastered our album at De Moor Studios, and, once again, what a supernice and super talented guy he is! Make no mistakes about all this – it was our good, no… our dear friend Danny Hendriks who coordinated all these people and the whole timeline. About a week ago, after two weeks of mixing and talking back and forth, making some suttle and some not so suttle changes, adding reverb here and there, talking about differences in sounds, moving instruments in the mix from the right to the left and back again, finding a guitar missing I wanted to record but forgot to, making a change that makes up for that missing guitar, I had to make a decision in what order I’d want the songs. Elli and I found the right order, I guess. There is no other possible order.

So, finally, three days ago, I received the masters, and I’m happy. The album sounds great! It is way about time to thank Danny Hendriks for his hard work, patience, know-how, his perfect coordination, his friendship and all the fun we had! If you want to record a great record, you should go and contact Danny and his company For The Record Music. More thanks go out to Jessie, Danny’s wonderful wife, for her great hospitality. To Jules Peters at De Moor Studios: I hope YOU are satisfied with our results! Your studio is a great place, my friend! Thanks for inviting us and letting us put some serious boom-chicka-boom through your facility!  To Erwin Van De Ven: thanks for stopping by and putting some of your talent into our record! And thanks for taking care of my boxes. Finally, to Dion Vermaes: Thanks for your talent and for putting the right finishing touches to our record! To you all: We’ll be back!

One last word: These songs, at least eight of them, are a piece of my heart. I’m proud of these songs, I’m proud of these recordings, I’m proud of my band! Please support us and everybody involved in this project by buying this record. Support independent musicians and all these extremely talented people involved in their projects!

Tennessee Jed – Pimpgrass

Lest anyone dare forget, bluegrass music has a soul of its own. Granted, it differs from what’s normally associated with the standard rhythm n’ blues, although the same fervor can be found in the sweep and strum of banjos, fiddles and mandolin, along with the high harmonies that wail above the fray.

Tennessee Jed knows that all too well, and on Pimpgrass, his fifth album to date, he shares those sentiments in ways that are both expected and beyond the norm. The soaring sentiments of the album opener, Over the Mountain, offers the initial indication, a wistful ballad expressing the draw of home and the weariness of the road. The heartfelt lament, Can’t Get There From Here, continues on that tack, fully affirming Jed’s genuine sense of longing for those things that often lie just beyond our reach, just as the gritty work song, Sunup ‘Til Sundown,emphasizes the struggles of everyday existence. Despite his unruly-looking demeanor — the back photo of the CD cover shows him about to smash his guitar against an abandoned bus — his soulful spirit is never in doubt.

If that was the only hint of sentiment, it would definitely be enough. Yet along with the ramble and rumble of high lonesome ballads like The Train for to Carry Me Home, the driving sounds of Soul-Country Pimpgrass, and the astute and assertive instrumental, Opie’s Intermezzo, Jed adds some surprising cover songs that further assert his soulful stance. One wouldn’t expect to hear the Isley Brothers classic Shout parlayed by a group of professional pickers, but here it isn’t out of place, its exuberant exhortations fully fleshed out by bluegrass regalia. Likewise, when Jed and company tackle Kiss, the remarkable barnburner from Prince, the fusion of two genres stays surprisingly in sync. To his credit however, Jed doesn’t feel inclined to share his soul merely through the efforts of others; when he sings in his upper register on his own original offering, Cells, he soars like a man well able to rely on a faithful falsetto.

Credit too a reliable backing band that’s easily able to navigate those shifts in style. By now, Tennessee Jed’s reputation is such that he’s able to attract an exceptional group of players, among them Scott Vestal on banjo, Todd Parks on bass, fiddler and backing vocalist Luke Bulla, Josh Shilling of Mountain Heart playing keys, Andy Hall of the Infamous Stringdusters contributing dobro, and three members of the Daily & Vincent band fleshing out the rest. It’s an exceptional ensemble, and one well equipped to operate in Jed’s jurisdiction.

Now more than ever, breaking down barriers is of prime importance. Credit Tennessee Jed with journeying to those unlikely realms and finding a fit once he arrives.

The Vagaband – Something Wicked This Way Comes

Based in Norwich, The Vagaband are a nine-piece crew whose punning name aptly sums up their wandering musical pathways. The politically satirical title track gets things rolling, an uptempo fiddle-driven slice of Laurel Canyon close harmony folk rock that calls CS&N. Hanging around the same era, once past the intro,  Bright Are The Stars, which features The Arlenes on harmonies, recalls the melody line of The Byrds     I Am A Pilgrim. And then there   s One For The Road which evokes the same queasy narcotic disorientation of Three Dog Night   s Mama Told Me Not To Come. That was, of course, written by Randy Newman and the same influence can be heard on the lazy New Orleans piano rag and brass styled Spiritual Man.

Then, that   s surely Dylan circa Desire underpinning the scuffling Not My Day To Die while, featuring Morganway   s Yve Mary Barwood on vocals,  the bluesy An Eye For An Eye flirts with spaghetti western moods with its tolling bells and desert parched guitar twang, even if the line about getting back to the garden is clearly pinched from Joni   s Woodstock.

In contrast, things come closer to home with the strummed guitar ballad Through The Back Doors which sails close to Lennon   s Jealous Guy and There   ll Only Be One Elvis (Costello not Presley) has a touch of Oasis lurking behind its Americana sway. However, it   s back to swampier climes for the low key sung, Mexicana doped and dobro shaped Black Eyed Sally.

Musical echoes of Lennon   s I Heard The News Today in evidence, it finally ends with the nostalgia-themed Zoetrope. Frontman Jos    McGill says the album   s about    American cultural imperialism on our own turf   , acknowledging the irony that much of their music appropriates this while still planting its feet in British roots rock soil. Wickedly good.

Andrea Colburn & Mud Moseley – Easy, Sleazy and Greazy

Debut album from the self-proclaimed King & Queen of the Hillbilly Underground featuring a carefully selected group of tunes incorporating Honky Tonk, Blues, Rockabilly, Garage Rock and Surf music. Like Doc Watson and the Cramps had a love child.

 

 

Storie Grubb – The Swill Herds

Americana Folk Rock music with Indie World Pop Sensibilities.

Album Notes
‘The Swill Herds’ has no standard 6 string guitars on it. All the leads, hooks and distortion parts you hear are from my ukulele. I wanted to challenge myself and create an album that had a strong ukulele foundation mixed with heavy percussion and bass with a lo-fi, pop twist. My old friend Matthew Vorhies plays accordion on a few tracks, adding breath to the body. It was written, recorded and mixed in my basement in Boise Idaho from January- March 2018.
I threw in an old Pink Floyd song that I have always wanted to cover called Fat Old Sun. I hope I did it some justice.