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.

The Cory Grinder Band – Cahoots & Other Favorites

With a deep love for classic country music, The Cory Grinder Band writes original honky tonk tunes for those who love that old hillbilly sound. Cory, from Akron, Ohio leads the group playing rhythm guitar, fiddle, and singing with pedal steel/electric guitar player Stephen “Tebbs” Karney. Gluing the group together is veteran bass player, Jason Willis. Between them the members of the band have quite a bit of experience playing for local venues (House of Blues, Beachland Ballroom) and national programs (NPR’s “On Point,“ SXSW.) Their entertaining live performances are full of fun, upbeat songs and the silly antics of the band. Always trying to have a good time, it’s not unusual to see the group switching around instruments and bringing guests into the fold.

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.

Zoli Althea Browne – Never Too Old To Heal

Album Notes
Never Too Old To Heal supports recovery work, wounded child work, and spiritual renewal. I began my CODA recovery work in 1988 and continue working the 12 Steps to this day, one day at a time. After a double-header day of two meetings back to back, I intuited that we are indeeed never too old to heal! A participant had just stated that “ it is never too late to have a happy childhood”. Since I was nowhere near that understanding, I sought understanding by beginning to write the lyrics and music for this cd. I lived in Olympia, Wa. and was raising Scottish Highland cattle, but realized I required a change of scenery and energy to work on this project, away from my farm work. So, every weekend for the next couple months I stayed in the top left side room at the old Governor’s House Hotel on Capitol Way, to ponder, process and write. I finally recorded and released this cd early in 2010. Now living in Montana, I still honor those first difficult years of recovery work…I still choose daily not to drink alcohol. Some days are better than others, but after 30 years of challenging, continuing recovery work I still maintain that we are never too old to heal. This cd is a bit of a 4th step presented with the love and aspiration coming from the 12th. Many blessings and love to you!

Milly Raccoon – You’re In Country Country

Fiddle player and singer Milly Raccoon roams the continent, bringing her quirky, edgy music and art to unsuspectingcitizens. Her original songs and musical stylings seem to have traveled magically out of the past, emulating classic country, traditional jazz, and old-world Celtic music. 

Ashley Jordan – He’s Crazy

Described as “charismatic,” “honest” and “a vocal powerhouse,” 25 year old singer songwriter Ashley Jordan has performed her music across the U.S. and has had the honor of supporting artists such as Trace Adkins, Sam Hunt, Chase Rice, Rusted Root, Jason Mraz, Phillip Phillips, Christina Perri, O.A.R., Magic!, Alex Preston, Crystal Bowersox, Howie Day and more!  With several high-profile performances as well as a host of major regional awards, Ashley shows no signs of slowing down. Ashley has performed for audiences as large as 40,000, and in 2015 her song “Angels” received a first-round Grammy nomination. Ashley was selected for a second time as a top ten finalist in Nash Next 2017, and won “Country Artist of the Year” in the coveted Boston Music Awards in Dec. of 2017. 

 

In 2016, Ashley finished recording a fourth album (“He’s Crazy”) of all original music and immediately caught the attention of Boston’s premiere radio station WBMX (MIX 104.1 FM).  Calling her new album “a masterpiece,” Matthew Reid (Music Director and on-air personality at WBMX) stated: “My favorite album of 2015? Adele’s 25.  My favorite album of 2016, so far? Boston singer/songwriter and Open MixFest 2014 Winner, Ashley Jordan’s He’s Crazy.”  Also in late 2016 (and again in late 2017), Ashley competed in “Nash Next” competitions hosted by Nash Icon radio and won local and regional contests to eventually be named a 2-time top ten finalist from across the nation and earning a spot to perform in Nashville.  In 2016 she performed for Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records, Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn, Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts  and Danielle Bradbery from the Voice; in 2017 she performed for Scott Borchetta, Kix Brooks, Country Artist Brantley Gilbert and Music Legend, Desmond Child. Desmond Child said of Ashley’s 2017 performance, “That’s like the music I grew up with…like I used to go see Janis Joplin at these big festivals and you have that feeling about you…”

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! 

Austin Lucas – Immortal Americans

Austin Lucas has come home.

It’s been over two decades since the songwriter packed his bags and left Bloomington, Indiana, the Midwestern town where he spent his childhood years falling in love with rock & roll, embracing his punk roots, and standing his ground whenever intolerant locals didn’t understand his way of life. He returns to that place—both creatively and physically—with his seventh studio album, Immortal Americans. Written after a tumultuous period that found Lucas getting sober, supporting his partner through a battle with cancer, and breaking up with his longtime record label, Immortal Americans is a clear-eyed album for murkier times, rooted in stripped-down heartland rock songs that find the artist reflecting upon the changes in both his hometown and himself.

Co-produced by Lucas and Will Johnson (Centro-matic) and recorded/engineered by Steve Albini and captured in a series of live, full-band performances, Immortal Americans was written after Lucas resettled in Bloomington. He’d been away for years, touring the world as an independent solo artist before signing a record deal with New West in 2013. In many ways, the albums he released during that period were reflections of the music he’d grown up with, from the mountain music of his father (bluegrass musician Bob Lucas) to the punk records that soundtracked his teenage years. Appropriately, Lucas earned a fan base as a folksinger with punk roots—or was it the other way around?—while touring the country with artists who represented both ends of that spectrum, sharing shows with Willie Nelson one minute and Chuck Ragan the next.

Somewhere along the way, his vices began to get the best of him. He started drinking too much. He gained weight. His marriage crumbled. Albums like 2013’s cowpunk-inspired Stay Reckless and 2016’s Between the Moon and the Midwest shone a light on those challenges, tackling everything from divorce to depression. When Lucas hit rock bottom though, he stopped writing about his temptations and instead, left them behind for good. He headed back to southern Indiana, resettling himself in a town that had changed considerably since he left.

There, in a region suffering from an opioid epidemic, an HIV crisis, and a homelessness problem, Lucas focused on rebuilding his career and his body. He got sober, shedding more than 100 pounds. He recounted the stories of his youth, where, as an outsider in a small town, he dodged beer cans hurled by passing drivers. As he once more walked the Bloomington streets, he learned to embrace his own fighting spirit again. The album’s title track, “Immortal Americans,” emerged from that period of self-discovery.

“My friends and I had to fight for who we were,” he remembers of those early days in the Midwest, “and it was an alienating, anxious, and oftentimes scary way to live. This song is about that fight. It goes out to the most marginalized and at-risk human beings who live in our country, all the people who live on the outside of mainstream society and have to fight every day for their identities and for their existence—because those are the true immortal Americans.”

Meanwhile, Lucas’ new partner was fighting a different sort of battle. Lucas had discovered a lump on her body during their first evening together and the mass turned out to be cancerous. He became not only her romantic partner, but her caretaker too, nursing her back to health after a life-altering surgery and a string of energy-sapping chemotherapy sessions. Lucas continued writing music throughout the process, strumming an acoustic guitar quietly while his girlfriend slept in the next room. Although much of Immortal Americans is influenced by that experience, album standouts like “The Shadow and Marie” tackle the experience directly, shining a light on his partner’s vitality and unending beauty.

“The song opens up with dark lyrics,” he admits, “but the overall point is, ‘We’re still alive. We still have so much to be grateful for. As long as we’re still here, there’s beauty and joy.’ I wrote it to remind my lover that even though she’d been through a crazy ordeal in which her body was permanently changed, she was still beautiful to me. The song may start out on a low note, but as it builds, it goes to a place that’s brighter. It pushes toward something better. In many ways, that’s the theme of the whole record.”


When it came time to record his new songs at Steve Albini’s studio in Chicago, Lucas didn’t reach too far beyond the songs’ unplugged origins. He’d already been cut loose from his record label, which meant he was free to chase down his muse without any sort of outside influence. He consolidated his sound accordingly, stripping away the electric guitars and dense sonic landscapes that had permeated his recent albums. In their place, he focused on acoustic instruments and a restrained rhythm section, gluing everything together with lyrically-sharp songs that measured the distance between his rocky past and even-keeled present. The band—whose members included his Dad, who’d traveled north to play banjo with his son—crowded into the same room at Electrical Audio and played together, resulting in an all-analog album that’s both raw and real.

“I wanted it to sound like human beings playing instruments,” says Lucas, “I knew the best thing for this batch of songs was for them to sound as organic as possible. I sang live, playing guitar at the same time, and we worked very quickly. It was an in-the-moment kind of album.”

Immortal Americans is Austin Lucas’ homecoming album, created during a whirlwind period of tumult and regrowth. With its gothic heartland sound and autobiographical lyrics, it’s also Lucas at his most honest, rooted in a string of largely unamplified anthems that don’t rely on electricity to pack a punch.

“I was watching the changes in Bloomington and reflecting upon the changes in my own life,” he sums up. “Not all of this is happy stuff, but there’s hope. There’s light in the darkness. I really do believe in second and third chances, because I know how many chances I’ve received. You have to keep fighting, because that’s what makes life worth living.”

Or, in other words, that’s what makes you immortal.

Vikki McGee – Two Bottles

Armed with deep musical heritage, Vikki McGee has enjoyed a long and quite diverse musical career. Hailing from the small town of Port Barre’, Louisiana, Vikki followed in the musical footsteps of her great grandfather, the famed Cajun fiddler, Dennis McGee, and her uncle, the highly-acclaimed, and member of the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame Gerry McGee.

 Vikki is a singer-songwriter with a rich voice and an uncanny ability to deliver a song in such a way that, no matter the message, the listener’s experience is filled with the intended emotion. Extreme versatility is often used when describing Vikki’s style and artistry. During one week in October 2017, Vikki took her band to perform at the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival in Dyess, Arkansas, and then three days later, she performed as the Guest Artist with the Delta Symphony Orchestra at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. She also performed at the Arkansas Roots Festival in the summer of 2017. The four-time winner of the readers’ choice award for “Best Musician” (Occasions Magazine), Vikki entertains a wide variety of audiences and wins over fans with her authentic, soulful and effortless sound.

Growing up in South Louisiana, Vikki was exposed to many genres of music and quickly developed an affinity for Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, and Johnny Cash. By the age of 14, she was talking her way into places that were willing to let her sing. She quickly went from weddings and social gatherings to opening shows for artists such as Tanya Tucker, Restless Heart, Little Texas and Tracy Lawrence. After the sudden death of her husband, who was also her lead guitarist, Vikki passed on a pending record deal to raise her then two young children. A choice she has never once regretted. After the hiatus, Vikki returned to the scene with a renewed perspective and has since been consistently playing shows throughout the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta Region for the past 15 years. She recently commented on her musical career, “I am fortunate to have worked with and been mentored by so many talented musicians, including another Uncle, Randy Latiolais and South Louisiana’s Ted Broussard. But I truly believe God gave me this voice and talent, and He has blessed me beyond measure, so none of this career would have been possible without Him.”

Whether with her full band on a large stage, or with her guitar in a living room for a House Concert, Vikki delivers her music with the same honesty and humility. As she often says, “Whether for 2 or 2,000, you give the same show.” Such unassuming talent is rare and undoubtedly intended to be heard.

Heather Whitney – Moving On

Singer. Songwriter. Heather Whitney comes from an itty bitty, one red light town deep in the pines of Southeast Texas where the mosquitoes are big but her love for music is bigger!

Heather’s new album, “Moving On” is full of love, heartbreak, and moving on. This album is everything she lived through, felt and overcame while in the studio. “Just because you’re working towards your dreams doesn’t mean that the world stops spinning and hardships won’t find you. What gave me strength to complete my album was knowing that I was not alone & that someone else out there would hear these songs, relate to them and possibly gain some healing like I did. We have to stick together.”

Heather Whitney has spent the last year flying back and forth from Newton, TX to Nashville, TN writing, hand picking songs for the album and recording with producer, Buddy Hyatt. She just wrapped and released her first music video for her single “Shut Up And Dance” (Now available on ITunes)!

“Everyone who was apart of this project was there because of their belief in me and I’m forever humbled and thankful for them and this experience. Everything that I put into this album will absolutely translate to the listener! Hope y’all enjoy it!”