Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler, Sinead O’Connor, and more, feature on PAUL BRADY: THE VICAR STREET SESSIONS VOLUME 1

VicarStCD400Proper Records, April 27th

Take a veritable galaxy of stars…Bonnie Raitt, Mark Knopfler, Van Morrison, Sinéad O’Connor, Ronan Keating, Curtis Stigers, Gavin Friday & Maurice Seezer, Eleanor McEvoy, Moya Brennan, Mary Black, Maura O’Connell to name but a few…and then add one more… Paul Brady.

Paul Brady. Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist. Revered Irish talent of some 40 years.

The one ingredient that coalesces the mix, the common factor, the king pin, the thread that pulls warp and weft together.

Fourteen years ago Paul Brady did 23 gigs at Vicar Street, Dublin. Many artists have sung Paul’s songs over the years and in October 2001 he decided to invite some of them to play with him. The response was overwhelming. The result an inspired mega coupling.

Joining Paul and his band was a different artist every night, sometimes several. Indeed, as he says himself  “At times I was a spectator in my own show as my guests, my friends, took the roof off Vicar Street. I knew then we’d captured something special.”

This unparalleled set of musical evenings soon became the stuff of legend. And it always remained at the periphery of Paul’s consciousness. Now, finally, a first volume of these remarkable nights is to be released.

Out on Proper Records on April 27th it comprises some of PB’s best loved songs featuring some of the world’s best loved artists. It captures a taste of what it was to have been there on the night – intimate, funny, powerful and above all gloriously musical.

With 16 solo albums already to his credit as well as a fist of collaborations, Paul Brady’s writing effortlessly straddles folk, pop and rock (not to mention his enviable reputation as an interpreter of traditional music).

His songs have been sung by a huge array of stars over the last four decades. Tina Turner, Cher, Carole King, Art Garfunkel, Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker, David Crosby, Cliff Richard, Trisha Yearwood and Phil Collins amongst them and, closer to home, Ronan Keating, Joe Dolan, Dickie Rock, Maura O’Connell, Liam Clancy and Mary Black.

The Vicar Street Sessions provides a great tribute to one of Ireland’s finest artists.

1. I Want You To Want Me
2. Baloney Again (feat. Mark Knopfler)
3. The Soul Commotion
4. Nobody Knows (feat. Gavin Friday and Maurice Seltzer)
5. Believe In Me
6. In This Heart (feat. Sinead O’Connor)
7. Irish Heartbeat (feat. Van Morrison)
8. Not The Only One (feat. Bonnie Raitt)
9. Don’t Go Far (feat. Curtis Stigers)
10. The Long Goodbye (feat. Ronan Keating)
11. Last Seen October 9th (feat. Eleanor McEvoy)
12. The World Is What You Make It (feat. Bonnie Raitt)
13. Forever Young

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Beth Nielsen Chapman ‘The Mighty Sky’ A collection of songs about astronomy for children of all ages!

Beth Nielsen Chapman The Mighty SkyWorking with Astronomy enthusiast/songwriter Rocky Alvey and her longtime hit songwriting partner Annie Roboff, Beth Nielsen Chapman releases an adventurous new project; “The Mighty Sky”, a collection of songs about astronomy for children of all ages.

“The Mighty Sky” was featured with live performances at the International Day of Human Space Flight at the United Nations Headquarters in NY on April 12th, 2012. Dignitaries included Dr. Charles Bolden (NASA Administrator), astrophysicist Dr. Mario Livio, and astronomer/author Dr. David Weintraub.

The songs are bursting with fun, life and accurate scientific knowledge. Each in a different genre, every lyric delivers an important astronomical fact. Hands -on lesson plans are outlined on the poster which comes with the CD, and are described in more detail on www.themightysky.com website. “The Mighty Sky” promises an eye-opening view of our place in the Universe.
The album features cameo spoken word performances by Bob O’Dell, the founding scientists of the Hubble Space Telescope, and Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discoverer of pulsars.

Astronomy is borderless. Inherently, it promotes the thought that we are all part of one universe. There are no borders in space. We are all astronauts travelling on the same ship, a fragile sphere, hurtling through the universe together. We all look out the same portal at an infinite view of “The Mighty Sky”.

1. The Mighty Sky 3.55
2. Through Hubble’s Eyes 1.47
3. The Big Bang Boom 3.01
4. The Moon 2.42
5. Little Big Song 3.19
6. Rockin’ Little Neutron Star 2.05
7. Zodiacal Zydeco 3.10
8. Test Retest and Verify 3.01
9. The Way That We Lean 2.08
10. You Can See The Blues 3.3311. There Is No Darkness 3.00

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“How inspired, to educate by bringing together the wonder of astronomy and new music by such gifted artists in this cool, innovative way. I loved it!” – Bonnie Raitt

“Beth’s music has always been star-bound… In this collection, she takes listeners of all ages on a journey of the universe and in the process teaches as well as enriches the heart.” – Mary Chapin Carpenter

“A brilliant mix of music, art, science,and fun. I love it.” – Keb Mo
“Here is music to stargaze by, or sunbathe, or gather moonbeams, watch meteor showers, chase eclipses — even dream about the next transit of Venus.”The Mighty Sky” covers all heavenly contingencies.” – Author, Dava Sobel

“Kepler’s music of the spheres approach to astronomy has found a modern parallel in “The Mighty Sky”. It conveys well the wonders and intricacies of the modern universe.” – Founding Project Scientist of the Hubble Space Telescope – Dr. C. R. O’Dell

“The Mighty Sky is a shining example of the ways in which educators want to encourage people of all ages to think about and investigate the world around us in creative ways. By engaging us in the universe musically, Alvey, Chapman, and Roboff have helped us understand some “mighty” physics and astronomy concepts in ways that help us to understand and have fun, at the same time!” – Vicki H. Metzgar, Ed. D., STEM Hub Director, Tennessee

Web link: www.bethnielsenchapman.com

Bonnie Raitt – Slipstream – Released April 2nd on Proper Records

With the release of her nineteenth album, Slipstream, Bonnie Raitt is starting anew. The album marks her return to studio recording after seven years; it’s coming out as the launch of her own label, Redwing Records; and it delivers some of the most surprising and rewarding music of her remarkable career, thanks in part to some experimental sessions with celebrated producer Joe Henry.

The years before and after Raitt’s last album, 2005’s acclaimed Souls Alike, weren’t an easy time for her, with the passing of parents, her brother, and a best friend. So after following that album with her usual long run of touring—winding up with the “dream come true” of the “BonTaj Roulet” revue with Taj Mahal in 2009 and a triumphant appearance at the all-star Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary concerts the same year— she decided to step back and recharge for a while.

“I took a hiatus from touring and recording to get back in touch with the other part of my life,” she says. “On the road, under stress, it’s hard to stay in balance and move forward.” Excited to have time at home and with her family and friends, she could go to the symphony, check out live jazz and Cuban shows, and so much else. She continued her ongoing political work, helping to organize NukeFree.org in 2007 and supporting her favorite non-profit organizations. “I didn’t have to be the professional version of myself for a long time,” she says. “It wasn’t so much a vacation as a chance to take care of a lot of neglected areas of my life, a lot of processing after all that loss and activity.”

When she started thinking about making music again, Bonnie knew she needed to try something out of the ordinary. “I was really interested in working with different people, and someone I had always been drawn to was Joe Henry,” she says. “I’m a big fan of his writing and albums and love the work he’s done producing Allen Toussaint, Solomon Burke, and others. I thought it would be really intriguing to see what we could come up with. Coincidentally, he had been wanting to call me as well. Our first phone call lasted over two hours.”

They found a brief window when Henry’s usual crew of musicians was available, augmented by a new friend of Bonnie’s, the magnificent guitarist Bill Frisell. “I didn’t have to produce or get the band together, I could just show up and sing,” she says. “I came to Joe’s with, to use a Zen expression, ‘beginner’s mind.'” The experiment yielded eight songs in 48 hours, and Raitt was inspired to get back to work full force. “I loved singing these songs and playing with these guys so much,” she says, “This was just the jumpstart I needed to get me back in the saddle and wanting to work on a new album.”

She plans to release the full results of the Joe Henry sessions down the line, but for now she chose to include four of these tracks on Slipstream —the Henry originals “You Can’t Fail Me Now” (co-written with Loudon Wainwright III) and “God Only Knows,” and two songs from Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind album, “Million Miles” and “Standing in the Doorway.”

The album’s title is very significant for Bonnie —Slipstream isn’t just a beautiful sounding word, but an indication of her place in the music community. “I’m in the slipstream of all these styles of music,” she says. “I’m so inspired and so proud to continue these traditions, whether it’s reggae or soul or blues. I’m in the slipstream of those who came before me, and I’m leaving one for those behind me. I’m holding up the traditions of the music that I love.”

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Artist’s website: http://www.bonnieraitt.com/

KATIE MELUA ALBUM NEWS

‘Secret Symphony’, the brand new album by Katie Melua, will be released on March 5th, 2012. Katie Melua takes the stage in front of the Secret Symphony Orchestra, on this, her fifth album. Always happy to step away from people’s expectations, Katie delivers a superbly crafted set of tracks interpreting songs drawn from a wide spectrum of songwriters including herself and Mike Batt.

“This album was going to be my ‘singer’s album’ says Katie. I had always wanted to do this one day; singing other people’s songs brings something out of you and your voice that isn’t perhaps where you would have gone vocally with your own material. It stretches you. As it happened Mike and I did write a couple of new ones, but the general idea was to find songs by great writers such as Ron Sexsmith (‘Gold In Them Hills’) and a favourite song of mine, originally recorded by Bonnie Raitt (‘Too Long At The Fair’) plus some more well known ones like ‘Keeping The Dream Alive’.”

The result is a collaboration with orchestrator and conductor Batt that imbues the songs with a distinct personality that could only be the work of this creative team. The gorgeous ‘Secret Symphony’ album was recorded at Air Studios in London and represents a blend of musicianship and dedication that will delight existing Katie Melua fans and win her many new ones.

The new songs by Katie & Mike Bat are fantastic, the Ron Sexsmith cover is inspiring and the backing of the Secret Symphony Orchestra gives it a real West End musical appeal. The whole album is wrapped in a gorgeous vocal delivery and you are going to love it!  Folking.com

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Artist Web Link: www.katiemelua.com

ANI DIFRANCO RETURNS WITH HER FIRST NEW ALBUM IN MORE THAN THREE YEARS…

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Ani DiFranco has announced the upcoming release of her eagerly awaited new album. ¿Which Side Are You On? arrives via the Grammy-winning artist’s own Righteous Babe Records on January 17, 2012.

¿Which Side Are You On? marks DiFranco’s first studio album in more than three years. The collection features 11 new songs alongside a radically reworked rendition of the classic title song, famously popularized by the one and only Pete Seeger nearly five decades ago, but no less relevant today. Backing DiFranco is a remarkably diverse line-up of stellar musicians, including members of her own crack touring band as well as such guest players as Ivan and Cyril Neville (of New Orleans’ first family of funk and R&B, The Neville Brothers), avant-saxophonist Skerik (Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Bonnie Raitt, The Meters), acclaimed singer/songwriter (and Righteous Babe recording artist) Anaïs Mitchell, guitarist Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman, Amos Lee), and a host of New Orleans-based horn players known for their work in such outfits as Galactic, Bonerama, and The Rebirth Brass Band.

What’s more, Ani is joined on her stunning new version of “¿Which Side Are You On?” by the aforementioned Pete Seeger, whom she praises as “my elder, my forefather in folk music and political song.” DiFranco was inspired to record the famed protest anthem after being invited to perform at Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden in May 2009. She contributed her own straight-from-the headlines verses to the song and has used it to close her own live shows ever since. The newly recorded version of “¿Which Side Are You On?” is a funk-fueled epic, incorporating not just Ani’s band, but Seeger himself on banjo and vocals alongside The Rivertown Kids, a Hudson Valley-based children’s chorus, and The Roots of Music Marching Crusaders, a brass band consisting of students from The Roots of Music, a music education program for at-risk middle-school students in New Orleans.

“All of my musical community, my comrades, are in there,” says Ani of the cross-generational recording. ¿Which Side Are You On? was co-produced by DiFranco and her longtime collaborator Mike Napolitano over a series of sessions in 2010 and 2011. The basic tracks feature two slightly different versions of Ani’s touring band, recorded at Bogalusa, Louisiana’s renowned Studio In The Country, Brooklyn, New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Studio, and her own New Orleans home studio, The Dugout.

The album represents an extraordinary snapshot of DiFranco’s own life as well as her sense of where the country stands at this particular moment in time. The long gap since 2008’s acclaimed Red Letter Year offered an array of new opportunities, including a backlog of songs and the ability to painstakingly fine-tune new recordings.

Many of the songs featured on ¿Which Side Are You On? are reflections on growing older and being totally okay with that process. As she sings on “If Yr Not,” “If yr not getting happier as you get older/then yr f**king up.” Elsewhere, Ani tackles some of the many crises that are currently confronting the nation and the world, spanning environmental disaster, government inaction, and a culture hooked on comfort and acquisition at any cost. Songs such as “Amendment” and “J” see DiFranco addressing these issues with a directness that is striking even for an artist long known for her activism and outspoken point of view. “I’m testing deeper waters with the political songs on this album,” she says. “I feel a little bit frustrated, politically desperate. After having written hundreds of songs over decades, I think, ‘Now what? How far can I go with this? Can you sing the word ‘abortion,’ can you sing the word ‘patriarchy’ – what can you sing and get away with? I guess I’ve been pushing my own boundaries of politics and art. Seeing what people have the ears to listen to. How big is my mouth? What can I get out of it successfully?

The last two decades have seen DiFranco staking a historic claim on popular music, spanning 16 studio albums and countless live recordings (including 1997’s RIAA gold-certified Living in Clip), EPs, and compilation contributions. Along the way she has amassed a devoted fan following, received numerous awards and nominations, earned rapturous reviews, and basically rewrote the rules of the recording industry. Now Ani’s recommendation about the album’s opening track “Life Boat” can be said to apply to ¿Which Side Are You On? as a whole: “Just listen, drop your idea of who is singing and what you already know they’re saying, and go somewhere else, open yourself up to a new story.”

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