The third and final installment of our 2013 Ernie Ball Save Your Strings Competition was the search for one great artist in our country category to win a year’s supply of strings and accessories. We’ve previously introduced you to our pop winner, Biscuits & Gravy, and our rock winner, The Jellybricks. They will now be joined in consideration for the grand prize “ an endorsement deal with Ernie Ball and a Music Man guitar for each player in the band “ by our country winner, Gin House.
Gin House has a winner with their great country porch stomper Roots, a perfect title for this band, whose other songs reveal a passion for all kinds of Americana beyond country “ blues, folk, and even classic pop. The main driver behind Gin House is Brandon Clark, who sings with a voice like tarnished gold “ built for radio, but with a deep character, and sounded with conviction. Check out the appropriately slow-burning stunner The Fire Is Alive for evidence. Clark founded the band in 2011 with Paul Lynch, and the following year released their self-titled 5-song EP, which features Roots. In support of the release, Clark hit the road with Austin Renfroe, hitting colleges from the Northeast to the upper Midwest. Sad to say we missed them last time around, but we won’t that mistake again.
All of the songs from the EP are currently posted on their OurStage page “ highly recommended listening. Stay tuned for the selection of the Ernie Ball Save Your Strings Grand Prize winner.
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There’s a lot that comes to mind when you think of Bruce Springsteen. Heartfelt rock and roll, lively extended performances, a GRAMMY Award (or 20). But what Professor Azzan Yadin-Israel of Rutgers University sees is a little bit different. The school is offering a new, one-credit course that asks: “How can biblical religious sources help us read songs like these, and how can Springsteen’s songs in turn inform our reading of the Bible?” Aptly titled “Bruce Springsteen’s Theology,” Yadin-Israel’s course will explore the more spiritual side of all things Boss.
This 10-week class will examine “Springsteen’s reinterpretation of biblical motifs, the possibility of redemption by earthly means (women, cars, music), and his interweaving of secular and sacred elements” according to a university course description. Although the course will only hold 20 students, all of which are first-years, Yadin-Israel says that he plans to turn his findings into a book. Let’s keep that one in our rock and roll prayers, shall we?
OurStage artist Delta Rae will be heading out on a co-headlining tour with ZZ Ward this winter, featuring support from Martin Harley. After capturing audiences on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno and Conan, and making appearances in Rolling Stone and on VH1, they’re ready to hit the road and show fans where they really excel: live. Check out all their tour dates after the jump.
Americana alt-rock band The Gaslight Anthem have premiered a new video for their song “Here Comes My Man” from their latest album, Handwritten, released this past summer by Mercury Recordings. The video stars actress Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door) daydreaming about finally meeting a man who will treat her right, matching the theme of the song. While she’s off on imaginary dates, the band is playing back at a barn show rigged up with dim lights. Slow-mo shots and good vibes abound. Check it out below:
If you like The Gaslight Anthem, then you might also like OurStage’s own Bradley Wik.
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OurStage band Delta Rae have come a long way since opening for Hanson as the winners of the “Shout It Out with HANSON” Competition in 2010. Not that Delta Rae were unskilled amateurs back then “ Isaac Hanson said that his band should have been opening for them instead “ but since nabbing that gig, Delta Rae signed a major label deal with Sire Records, were booked to play at this year’s Democratic National Convention, and were featured in the Rolling Stone “Women Who Rock” Competition. Not bad for just two years. We recently caught up with the band to talk about their recent activity, their inventive music videos, and how opening up for Hanson boosted their burgeoning career.
But finding the man she calls “my best friend, my soul mate,” actually bumped her artistry up even more levels. You’ll hear that on her GRAMMY Award- nominated album Blessed and perhaps even more so in her live performances, especially when she performs songs she has just written and will soon record. At a recent sold-out show at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Va., just outside of Washington, D.C., Williams did the near impossible. She and her musical partner for the evening, virtuoso guitarist Doug Pettibone, performed a two-hour show before a packed room that had the intimacy of a house concert. (more…)
Having grown up in a family of truck drivers, OurStage artist Kate Tucker seems to have inherited from them a sixth sense for the state of the nation. It’s a type of understanding that isn’t based on national polls or facts, but on the accumulation of individual tales that, when woven together, depict the full American canvas. On her latest album, Ghost of Something New, Tucker offers acute insights into the national mood through intimate stories of love gone awry. Melancholy, yet hopeful, the collection of songs is at once a rumination on failed previous relationships as well as a depiction of a country that similarly cannot stop contemplating its own path and past.
In Tucker’s lyrics, descriptions of romantic disappointment continuously spill over into distinctly American despair. When she sings Baby what you’re saying / It ain’t worth a dime / One more deal on main street / And you’ll be doing time, the empty promises of a dishonest lover sound unmistakably like the deceitful Wall Street dealings that spawned recent financial crises. Populist rhetoric reminiscent of the occupy camps appears over the rollicking drum beat of “Revolution” as well; the singer asks her lover, Don’t you want to start it / Start a revolution / Take it down to Houston? While Tucker’s narrators may cling to the particularly American belief that it is always possible to start anew, they are more likely to ruminate on the improbability of that same dream, falling “back into the distance / Searching for some old ancient truth.”
Like her aimlessly wandering lovers who vainly mine the past for guidance, Tucker’s America can only weakly imitate its own outdated victories. Ubiquitous pop clichés are repeated in strange semantic inversions (“I’m gonna get you over”) and familiar instrumental conventions of folk and Americana emerge from the arrangements like ghostly spectres. Lap steel and harmonica hide in the background mix while weary, fuzzed-out electric guitars languish in gallons of reverb. Over the swell, Tucker delivers her lyrics in a breathy alto, at times no louder than a hushed whisper. While this all may give the impression that Ghost of Something New is disconsolate and moody, the album doesn’t discount hope as an impossible commodity. As the closing track “New Orleans” builds to a climax, its single-note piano line becomes subtly dissonant and faltering, but doesn’t fall apart completely. It holds on until the last moment in order to deliver a final delicate chord. In this moment, missteps don’t seem fatal, and the future isn’t bound inextricably to failures of the past. It’s a muted type of hope, but it exists, and it’s as much as the lovelorn narrators of Tuckers songs can continue to long for.
Download Ghost of Something New at Kate Tucker’s Bandcamp page!
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Reading Jesse Terry’s list of tour dates from the past few years is a lot like looking at an actual calendar. Almost every single day corresponds with yet another gig, often in an area hundreds of miles away from the previous night’s show. A self-described “road warrior,” Terry has played his way across the contiguous United States multiple times by now, and the wanderlust evident in his musical travels plays a major role on his new LP Empty Seat on a Plane. Whether he’s describing Montana’s Bitterroot Valley or the dusty back roads of Tennessee, it’s clear that Terry isn’t merely going through the lyrical motions. He’s been to each place, soaked up its essence, and reproduced it in the form of gorgeously sung folk songs. Even if he isn’t doing the traveling himself, Terry is busy imagining the voyages of others to far-away locales like Portugal, Spain, or France. He envisions cars, trains, and planes carrying people off to the bright new lives they want, or at least think they want.
That is not to say that Terry doesn’t maintain a strong sense of groundedness amidst his travels. Woven throughout the various narratives on Empty Seat on a Plane is an enduring sense of Americana. In Terry’s lyrics, home is less a single place than a group of ideas and images (ballparks, carnival rides, and wide-open roads) that conjure the unified feeling of America as one expansive home. Specific nods to gospel, funk, and blues instrumentally achieve a similar effect, compressing America’s vast musical history into portable tuneful mementos that give listeners a coherent sense of place no matter where they might be. Never crowded or ostentatious, Terry’s arrangements give each instrument just enough space to make these musical influences clear, and his soothing vocal delivery is calming without being sleep“inducing, which is a rare feat. While Terry has been accurately compared to the likes of Ryan Adams and James Taylor, Empty Seat on a Plane shows that now he may be well on the way to becoming a reference point for other up-and-coming singer-songwriters himself.
Stephanie White was one of the Top 21 female vocalists on American Idol season five, and though the New Jersey native didn’t make it as far as Taylor Hicks, it wasn’t for a lack of talent. White’s got the limber croon of a jazz chanteuse combined with a pop sensibility that makes her music appealing to the masses. With her band of merry musicians, the Philth Harmonics, the singer creates a gumbo of jazz, funk, ska, and even a little Caribbean. Cheat On My BFFL is a cautionary tale for jerk wads wrapped up in a party. The bass bubbles, the guitars strut, the horns bleat, and the girl sings a warning to men who mean her friends harm. Keep the party going with the sultry Prove It or the creeping jazz funk of Trying To Dream For You. Hey, Taylor Hicks”eat your heart out.
Delta Rae has been making big moves recently. Scratch that. Huge moves. After inking a deal with Sire Records, the Durham, NC six-piece are ready to bring their harmony-heavy Americana sound to the masses. They’ll be releasing their debut album Carry the Fire on Tuesday, June 19. If you can’t wait until then, you can stream the record in its entirety over at Rolling Stone.
As if that weren’t enough for an up-and-coming band, Delta Rae also recently covered Fleetwood Mac’s classic “The Chain” for Billboard’s “Under Cover” program and will be performing at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles the Monday night before their album release. That show will kick off a packed summer of national tour dates for the group. Phew. We’re getting tired just writing about all they’re up to. Go Delta Rae.