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I had an enjoyable evening last night - a sort of last minute (day before actually) invite to Amy Black's CD Release Show at The Bluebird Café for her new album, The Muscle Shoals Sessions. The album was recorded down in Alabama and features covers of some of the great music that has come out of Muscle Shoals plus some original songs - inspired by that sound. Black is in the process of moving to the Nashville area, and she is currently touring with a band that features her husband on drums and a talented group of young musicians who are or have attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
I came home to hear the sad news out of Lafayette, Louisiana - yet another mass shooting. This hit close - I have a lot of family in the area, and at least one family member posted that they often see movies in that theater. I also so that a Facebook friend knew one of the victims. I fully expect - after our shared sense of "community" shock, to see a bunch of posts from both sides of political spectrum about this and the far too many other events like this one. My hope is for people of all political stripes to say, "this is terrible, things like this should not be happening", and then have real dialogue about the complex issues surrounding this and all of the other mass shootings. Mostly, my wish for all of us, is that just for today, we treat each other with a little extra kindness.
As you may have gathered if you follow Ear to the Ground, 2015 has been an extremely busy year. I seem to have gotten on some people radar, and I am very grateful for that. With all that, however, comes some challenges, and I move forward - with some exciting things on the horizon, I have discovered the need to get creative in dealing with the volume of new music that comes my way. Historically, my primary thing has been to add music to my playlist and feature it in the shuffle. Recently, I have been writing more reviews (though not as many as I would like to), and I have seen my active playlist continue to grow (it is currently over 1,000 songs) which means that some albums I really want to feature may or may not come up in my shuffle. To that end, I decided to bring back and revamp an old E2TG thing - called Featured Friday. Back in the earlier days of Ear to the Ground, I would "feature" 10 artists/bands every month, and I would create a playlist of their music which I would then shuffle on Featured Friday.
This new Featured Friday, is a playlist that is a subset of my regular playlist, that is limited to newer music that I really want to feature. So this playlist - unlike the regular one, will not include classic and obscure older music or one-offs from compilations, well, let's just do it, and you may see what I mean.
"Odyssea 1201" by Susan James
It is always fun when a brief instrumental track comes into the shuffle. Like this from Susan James' brand new album, Sea Glass.
"Aching Heart" by Angela Easterling
Angela Easterling's latest album Common Law Wife is due out next month. I have really been enjoying the album. It is filled with wonderful songs and she is backed by some amazing players. Put it on your to-listen list.
"Machines" by The Foresters
It is kind of strange that I have been listening to The Foresters for around three years - stranger given that the oldest member of the band is 15 and the youngest is eleven. Strange but in this case, extremely gratifying, to have seen the musical growth that has happened and continues to happen. The band's new album, Sun Songs, which was just released this week, finds the brothers from Connecticut moving further away from their Pop Punk roots in an organic way that is in line with their maturing musical vocabulary. Looking forward to seeing where they go from here. Machines is the second single from Sun Songs.
"Tight" by Paul Zografi
This is the only 2014 album I added into this Featured playlist. It was released late last year, but I didn't get hold of it until 2015. In any event, I really love the album, and due to the random nature of the shuffle - it was not until this past week that a song appeared in the shuffle - so I am really glad this song came up today. The album is called Bright, and it features J.P. Lilliston who often backs up my friend Joe Nolan.
"Cold Slope" by Wilco
I hesitated to add this album to the shuffle - despite my lame joke yesterday - it really doesn't fit the criteria I had in my for this playlist, but you know what... what's the point in writing your own blog if you can't make up rules and break them at will. I have been really digging this surprise gift from Jeff Tweedy and company, and so here is another track.
"If You Will" (bonus track) by Kevin Gordon
Kevin Gordon's new album is not due out until September, but I am happy to get to spend some time with it, and to get the chance to remind myself and then you that he is one of the best songwriters and performers out there. Long Time Gone is the name of the new album, and I will keep reminding you about it. It is the follow up to 2012's Gloryland, which if you haven't you should hear.
"Lost Creek" by Elephant Revival
Thanks to bands like Elephant Revival, Elephant Goes West, Cage the Elepant, Elephant Stone etc. Klout now thinks I am an "expert" on elephants.. :-) Elephant Revival are from Colorado, and they just released Sands of Now which is a live CD/DVD. This song is on that album, and it is worthy of your attention.
"Catch You in the Fall" by Reckless Johnny Wales
The enigmatic yet legendary Reckless Johnny Wales returns to the shuffle with our second listen from his album American Heart. The album really represents well the diverse experiences that made the man behind the legend. This is one of my favorite's from the album.