Gareth Owen – Rolling By

AT 81 YEARS OF AGE, PRIZE-WINNING POET, NOVELIST, BBC BROADCASTER AND PLAYWRIGHT, ISSUES ALBUM OF HIS OWN COUNTRY SONGS.

GARETH OWEN has published some seven volumes of poetry, of which over a hundred have appeared in various anthologies. For a number of years he was the popular presenter of the BBC’s long-running ‘Poetry Please!’

He was playing ‘Othello’ in Birmingham when he met the 16 year-old Ruby Turner in the theatre, and for a time managed her career. Reading The New Musical Express one day, looking for angles to help her career, he came across an article about the Country singer, Tom T. Hall and was sufficiently intrigued to buy his album; became a convert to Country music and began writing songs, mostly until now unheard except by close friends. Many years later, Ed Begley, the M.D. of Shakespeare miscellany he was part of, heard the songs and was impressed enough to put together a band and get Gareth into a studio to record them   

Rolling by is the happy result. It’s pure Americana, with Owen’s poetic talents and his gift for a catchy tune, lifting the varied story-songs in a novel and beguiling fashion.

***

Angela Meyer – Consequence

A breathe of new life into Western music, Consequence takes on a landscape as untamed and romanticized as the American West itself.

“I WRITE SONGS FOR EMPTY ROOMS AND BROKEN HEARTS
IN HOPES TO FILL THEM UP.” -ANGELA MEYER

A storyteller with a passion for her listeners, Angela pulls in the crowd with a sweet voice and brutal honesty. She knows what it means to be out in the audience, her earliest memory is dancing in a smoky tent while her mama sang on stage at the Iowa State Fair. Even before she could talk, Angela sang along with the radio and listened to the record player in her grandparent’s home. They introduced her to country music and gave her a guitar for Christmas. Compared to her 10 year old self, the guitar was so large she laid it flat across her lap to learn three chords. Angela has never strayed far from those three chords and the truth, finally picking up the guitar to accompany her songwriting at 15. Music has always been her favorite escape, and at just 16 years old she landed her first paid gig to start sharing her songs from the stage.

In her now 25 years of life, Angela has witnessed many changes to “country music” and how it is defined. Angela sees it as the fans speaking up about what’s getting radio play lacking authenticity. Listeners don’t need to be educated on music theory or the music industry to know what they are hearing is over-produced & under-thought. In a world more concerned about image than content, Angela boldly offers authenticity in her artistry. She does not give a second thought to the fact that she is a young woman; she just delivers her intention with conviction. Each person she encounters lends inspiration that only a hundred lifetimes could give. That translates to writing that paints a whole picture of the human experience, wisdom far beyond her years.

Angela is taking her lifetime dream of being a country music artist and turning it into her lifestyle. Her goal is to make music her career and help people along the way. Currently, she is finishing up her first album, Consequence, to be released April 21st, 2018. She performs live shows across the country at cowboy poetry gatherings, western events, and other events. Along with playing live shows, she also posts videos to her YouTube (angelacmeyer) and Facebook (angelameyer23) every Thursday.

The Isaacs – Favorites Revisited By Request

The intricate, family harmonies of The Isaacs are a benchmark phenomenon throughout the gospel, country and bluegrass communities. This all-new recording showcases those GRAMMY®-nominated blends as Sonya, Becky, Ben and Lily have re-recorded some of the classic, best-loved songs of their award-winning careers.

Mike Aiken – Wayward Troubadour

Biography – The Story of This Wayward Troubadour

Life on the fringe has its benefits, not the least of which is the perspective from an outsider’s view. Northwind Records is proud to announce the release of Mike Aiken’s seventh studio album, WAYWARD TROUBADOUR. Aiken’s 11song package is the anticipated follow-up to the Grammy nominated Captains & Cowboys (produced by Dan Baird, Georgia Satellites). As the first track’s title indicates, ‘Everything Changed’ with this album. Another conceptualized work that each of us can relate to, WAYWARD TROUBADOUR tells tales of trouble and charm.

It has been five years since Captains & Cowboys made its debut and Aiken says he wasn’t going to stop, not until he achieved what he was after. “I had a very clear sound in my head for this album, one I’ve always wanted to capture and I was not going to settle. At this point in my career I don’t have time for folks who don’t believe in the music 110%. These are the folks I want to write, record and perform with.”

Of the eight original songs on this album, six are co-writes. Two Lane Highway was penned with Henry Paul (Outlaws, Blackhawk, Henry Paul Band) who also lent his talents to mandolin and vocals on this timeless, sweet track. Nashville Skyline, written with Chris P James (Burrito Brothers), covers the troubadour’s view of Nashville as seen from any highway leading in to town. Mike included two very different songs he wrote with Paul Jefferson, the Bob Wills-esque, Everything Changed, and the tense song about not being judgmental, Hard Working Working Girl. Longtime friend and co-writer, Tim Buppert and Mike created the more frivolous offerings with Hangover Helper and the Gypsy Jazz-flavored, A Little Lazy In Your Life. The three covers were chosen for their content and the songwriters, rather than audience familiarity – Real Mean Dog (Robbin Thompson, Gregg Wetzel) for Robbin, longtime friend, fellow sailor and songwriter, Dead Man Runs Before He Walks (Mark Collie, Shawn Camp) for its somber story, and Penelope (Christopher Hynes) for its reminder that the grass is not always greener elsewhere. The self-penned songs Travelin’ Bone and Chesapeake give an autobiographical peek into Mike Aiken.

Wayward, by definition, is difficult to control, unpredictable, non-conforming. It took three studios and almost as many years to complete this troubadour’s collection of true north. Tracking began in Austin, Texas late in 2016. Aiken then found his way to Latitude Studio South in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee. Here is where the magic started, where the wayward musicians could be themselves and Mike could begin to capture what he heard in his head on the vintage equipment.

Tom Hurst (Gary Allan, Sister Hazel, Wang Chung, Backstreet Boys, Tracy Lawrence) on drums set the tone and character Mike was after. David Roe, bass, (Jerry Reed, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakum) came to track mostly electric and a couple of upright tracks. The vibe was right and the bass a-thumping. Ten of eleven tracks ended up with upright. Kenny Vaughan, acoustic, electric (Marty Stuart) shared the guitar work with Mike adding grit, tension and color. Ben Probus rounded out the band on fiddle. This small band of special folks were like-minded in the studio to bring the collaborative sound Aiken was looking for.

Tracking and mixing were completed in Deep Creek, Virginia when Aiken brought the project with longtime friend and mixing engineer Skip DeRupa. The two had not worked together since Just Add Salt in 2008 but they picked up as if no time had passed. DeRupa understood exactly what Mike was going for and set about mixing each song for what it needed.

If anybody has earned the title of WAYWARD TROUBADOUR, Mike Aiken has. He ran away as a kid to play music, he became a licensed USCG Captain, he has sailed over 30,000 bluewater miles on his own sailboat and logged countless miles on the road performing in North American and Europe.

Put this record on and become part of the journey.

Band

Mike Aiken – vocals, guitars, mandolin
Amy Aiken – vocals, percussion
Andrew Piland – vocals, guitars, keys, accordian
Jordan Ponzi – vocals, bass

Hoyt Axton – The Jeremiah Records Collection

About this release

Few composers could list an array of artists as diverse as BB King, Steppenwolf, Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, John Denver, Waylon Jennings, The Crusaders, The Kingston Trio and Ringo Starr who have covered their songs. Hoyt Axton’s best-known song ‘Joy To The World’, a # 1 hit for the American vocal band Three Dog Night in 1971, starts with the line “Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine”. Hence, after many albums with the Vee-Jay, Capitol, A&M and MCA labels through the 60s and 70s, when Axton started his own record label in 1979 he named it Jeremiah Records.

This 5 CD clamshell box set features all five Jeremiah Records albums in facsimile wallets, and along with a 32 page booklet featuring the lyrics, musician credits, and annotation.

The first album “Rusty Old Halo” features ‘Della And The Dealer’, a hit in both the US and the UK, as well as three more US country hits. Follow-up album “Where Did The Money Go?” (1980) featured more hits, while 1981’s “Live” featured renditions of his songs made famous by others, like ‘No No Song’, ‘Lion In The Winter’, ‘Never Been To Spain’ and ‘Joy To The World’. Released in 1982 and 1990, “Pistol Packin’ Mama” and “Spin Of The Wheel” bookended Axton’s TV and film career in the 80s, most notably in “Gremlins”.

Axton’s music al guests across the albums include Dr John, Stephen Stills, James Burton, Glenn D. Hardin, Jeff Baxter, Garth Hudson, Paul Butterfield, Bill Kirchen, and Byron Berline.

Larry Peninsula – Country Music Only

No matter age, gender, region of origin, country of origin, religion, social status, sexual preference, or anything else, everyone has the right to make country music if it’s something that dwells with passion in their heart. Authenticity is not just about who you are, or where you’re from. Sure these things are positive attributes in country music, if you were born and raised in the South or Texas, or did your time on a farm or ranch for example. But the true measure of authenticity is how true an artist is to themselves.

Often the ranks of traditional country artists are populated by people who feel like prisoners to their time, out-of-place in the modern context, or enslaved by their native geography. They just don’t seem to fit quite right in their world. But in the realm of country music, everything feels familiar. It’s astounding how far this country music passion can travel, and in the case of Larry Peninsula, it made its way to to Scandinavia, and Peninsula’s home country of Finland where he’s been obsessing over everything tied to traditional country music and the American West for many years.

Working tirelessly in his home studio for over three years, Peninsula has finally revealed his debut album Country Music Only. As the name implies, this is no close approximation of American country music. Sure, maybe the foreign accent finds its way through in some of the annunciations, and some use of idiom and language doesn’t translate exactly like it does in country music served in the genre’s native tongue. But what does shine through in stark brilliance is the passion for country music Peninsula and his players exhibit, the studious attention to detail and authentic modes they craft into these songs, and frankly just the overall appeal for the music, regardless of the country of origin.

What you’re first astounded by when you cue up the opening title track is how incredibly tasteful the guitar tones come blazing out at you. With all due respect to the North American outfits out there blazing old school country, only a few select folks like Marty Stuart and “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan could match the skill displayed just in the first 20 seconds of the first song. Larry Peninsula went all out to make sure this record was respectful to the sounds and modes of country music from the start, and it doesn’t let up until the end. This is what Saving Country Music first heard months back, placing “Country Music Only” on the Top 25 Playlist when the song was first released.

Luckily though, this album’s riches don’t stop there. The second song “Just A Moment In Time” is probably the most contemporary track on the record, and may trip some traditionalists up with the first listen. But it’s also probably one of the best written songs on the record. There are a few songs that are very country, like “Country Music Only” and “Pretty Good Crowd,” but the songwriting is kind of pedestrian. But that is not the case with tracks like “Wastin’ Daylight,” which might be the best effort on the record, or “Cowboy Heart” where Larry Peninsula speaks very directly to being a foreigner stung by the country music bug.

Throughout this record, you get a sense of loneliness many traditional country music artists and their fans feel in the modern context. “Where The Rain Is Green” is about dreaming of a place where things make more sense than in the world you’re in, and almost hoping beyond hope to make contact with it. And Peninsula isn’t just inspired by the country, he’s also inspired by Western, which evidences itself in the songs “Dead Renegade” and “I’d Rather Die With My Boots On.” And not to leave his Finnish fans in the lurch, and in a bid to be true to himself, the album ends with him singing and playing a country song in his native language.

The musicians who performed on this record also deserve kudos, including Henry B. Jones on bass guitar, Ilkka Jolma on pedal steel guitar, and Heikki Honkanen on harmonica. But Larry Peninsula played all of the guitars and drums on the record himself, which is astounding since the guitar work is one of the principle assets of it.

It should be the desire of every country music fan to break down whatever barriers persist in people’s hearts and minds, and let the best and most talented artists rise to the top regardless of who they are, or where they’re from. In a just world, an artist like Larry Peninsula and an album like Country Music Only would be reaching everyone with a love of country music in their hearts. Sure, some stuff is lost in the translation. But what is astounding is what is accomplished despite the language barriers and borders separating Larry Peninsula from the origin spot of country music. His passion and guitar work blazes through, and his songwriting holds up in any language.

Country music won’t be bordered, and Larry Peninsula is living proof.

Mary Marecek – Cotton Flowers

Bluegrass and gospel songs that capture the beauty of the farm life.
Album Notes
These original songs from the heart serve to share my love of God and the farm life through song. The farm and ranch life provides a great environment for writing music. I feel close to God when I’m surrounded by the land. My songs were written while driving the tractor or sitting on the porch in the evening. My hope is that these songs will uplift and inspire the listener.
“Rockin’ in The Cradle” is a song about driving the tractor
“I Love It When He Prays” captures the beauty of prayer in families.
“My Tractor’s Got A Soul” reached out to all romantics and classic tractor enthusiasts
“I Love To Pray” is a catchy gospel song that is good for church services.
“Love Letter” is written for a very special little girl named Carolinie who was and lost her adopted Mommy to heart failure when she was just 6 years old. My hope and prayer is that this song will restore the souls of all listeners.
“Hold Me In Your Heart” came to me one morning as a prayer put to song.
“Prayer Is Just A Song Away” is a gospel medley with an original chorus that is a hand-clapping, foot-stomper.
“Cotton Flowers” is an intimate song about a woman reaching out to God in song her desire to live the farm life.
“Wonderful Morning” is about a married couple’s appreciation of each other on a rainy morning. 

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.

Catherine Thompson – Western Serenade

Western classics featuring vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, classical guitar, bass, harmonica and piano by Catherine Thomposon, mandolin by Chris Firebaugh and percussion by Neal Anderson.

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!