Sam Amidon releases Bright Sunny South on May 13 2013

sam amidonTo coincide with the release of his Nonesuch Records debut, Sam Amidon will play a show at Bush Hall in London on May 23.

Nonesuch Records releases the new album, Bright Sunny South, on May 13. Produced by Amidon with his childhood friend and longtime collaborator Thomas Bartlett (a.k.a. Doveman) and legendary English engineer Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club, Vashti Bunyan, R.E.M.) and recorded in London, the record features a band made up of Bartlett and multi-instrumentalists Shahzad Ismaily and Chris Vatalaro. Jazz trumpeter Kenny Wheeler also makes a cameo. Amidon himself not only sings but also plays banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and piano on the album. It includes the single ‘My Old Friend’, which is featured below.

Amidon describes Bright Sunny South as a “a lonesome record” and a return to the more spare sound of his 2007 self-recorded debut, But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted: “There was an atmospheric quality to my last two records; those albums are like a garden of sounds,” says Amidon, “but this one is more of a journey, a winding path. The band comes rushing in and then they disappear. It comes from more of a darker, internal space.” A longtime admirer of Boys’ work, Amidon was particularly enamoured of his recordings with Martin Carthy in the 1970s, as well as the Ali Farka Touré/Toumani Diabaté duet albums on World Circuit/Nonesuch: “Those are so beautiful. I listened to all of that. I loved the sense of documentation, the unadorned quality. Everything sounded so clear.”

The Vermont-born and raised, London-based Amidon is known for his reworking of traditional melodies into a new form. In addition to country ballads and shape-note hymns, Bright Sunny South features interpretations of traditional and contemporary songs, including Tim McGraw’s ‘My Old Friend’ and Mariah Carey’s ‘Shake It Off’. The record also includes a version of ‘Weeping Mary’, a shape-note hymn that his parents, Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, had recorded with the Vermont-based Word of Mouth Chorus for Nonesuch Records on the 1977 disc Rivers of Delight: American Folk Hymns From the Sacred Harp Tradition.

Bright Sunny South follows 2010’s critically acclaimed I See the Sign, which earned Amidon praise from SPIN for his ‘Quirky alchemy…contrasting pretty sounds with violent lyrical undercurrents’

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In addition to his solo albums, Amidon has collaborated on performances pieces with musical polymath Nico Muhly, toured as part of Thomas Bartlett’s group Doveman and the Brooklyn band Stars Like Fleas, collaborated with Beth Orton, and embarked on a series of live shows with the guitarist Bill Frisell.

Artist’s website: www.samamidon.com

Folking Feature for Police Dog Hogan From The Land Of Miracles

Police Dog Hogan From The Land Of MiraclesPolice Dog Hogan are a high-energy seven-piece (including fiddle, banjo, mandolin, drums and guitars) that fuses country-folk to a pop sensibility. The band is rapidly building a following through joyous, foot-stomping live performances, having received rapturous receptions at festivals including Cornbury, Larmer Tree, Camp Bestival and Kendal Calling, and in sellout shows in London venues such as Bush Hall, The Troubadour and The 100 Club.

Eliot James coaxes a sharp, electric and contemporary edge from the band’s folk, country and bluegrass-influenced line-up, adding some spectacular harmonies and marshalling the band’s wide-ranging musical passions and influences.

The songs of writers James Studholme and Pete Robinson range from the reflective to the flat-out foot-stomping, interleaved with flashes of rockabilly, blues and Americana. Tim Dowling’s banjo is a constant, surprisingly delicate presence, often mixed with mandolin to produce compelling soundscapes, not least in the “trancegrass” of Black Crow or the simple beauty of Jennifer, a gloriously sunny love song. Distant bluegrass echoes – with a very English twist – also appear in the fiddle-playing of Eddie Bishop, one minute driving the rollicking album opener, Better Go Now, the next weaving sparse, mournful figures in the enigmatic Matilda.

The album also has its anthemic numbers, though few bands can have had the courage – or the songwriting ingenuity – to produce a song like Fraserburgh Train, based on the story of a lone piper on the D-Day beaches.

Everything is welded together by the inventive rhythmic backing of bassist Adam Bennette and Michael Giri, former drummer with The Lilac Time.

FROM THE LAND OF MIRACLES was recorded in Eastcote Studios on tape – the better to capture the acoustic warmth of the band’s approach – and mixed at Abbey Road.

Police Dog Hogan are currently on tour the UK in support of the new CD. For more information and the latest tour news, please visit: http://www.policedoghogan.com/

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Mary Gauthier – LIVE AT BLUE ROCK

After twelve years of relentlessly touring the world with her acoustic guitar and harmonica, singing on stages large, small and in between, Mary Gauthier is proud to announce the release of her first live recording.

Recorded with a small band at the very highest level at the incredible Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio just outside of Austin, Texas, Mary Gauthier LIVE at Blue Rock is an emotional evening of songs from an artist who has put in her ten thousand hours and mastered her craft. This recording is the culmination of a lifetime of Mary’s passion for story songs and tales that speak to the heart of the human condition. Many of the characters she sings about are hard hit, wounded and wandering outcasts – people whose lives have been scarred with blows so unexpected and traumatic that they were knocked into another place, a place unfamiliar – a place where transformation can happen.

The band follows Mary to the brink of the emotional ledges she navigates with ease, and together they carry the bittersweet truths of these characters’ lives to the hearts and souls of the listeners. We cannot help but see there’s a bit of each of us on display here, captured and revealed by a fearless artist in top form.

There’s Steam Train Maury, the Last of the Hobo Kings, and Karla FayeTucker, executed after 15 years on death row. There’s the lost soul stumbling through a haunted life calling an x-lover’s name outside a mission at sunrise in Cigarette Machine, and an old man in The Rocket who sits at the station watching the trains, remembering the one that took his boy away to war and did not bring him back. There is the bewildered and confused adoptee in Blood Is Blood, who looks into the faces of strangers, wondering if they might be blood, and the alcoholic in I Drink, who has all but surrendered his soul to the bottle. But if you listen closely you will hear that none of these characters has given up, and in Mary’s voice you hear the road-weary determination of someone who refuses to surrender to despair no matter the sorrows endured. The tenacity of these characters, their willingness to get up from the dirt they were knocked down into, the emotional honesty of these songs, the love of humanity on display here –make this a record for the ages.

Mixed and mastered by Patrick Granada with Ray Kennedy, in Nashville TN. Recorded by Philip McWhorter at Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, TX.

Track list: Your Sister Cried ~ Last of the Hobo Kings ~ Blood is Blood ~ Cigarette Machine ~ Our Lady of the Shooting Stars ~ The Rocket ~ Karla Faye ~ I Drink ~ Sugar Cane ~ Drag Queens in Limousines ~ Wheel Inside the Wheel

“With a voice like a grazed hawk, she sings bluesy Southern Gothic tales…Whatever you are doing I guarantee you’ll stop and listen to every word.” MOJO

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For more information and the latest tour news please visit www.marygauthier.com