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Bahamas, Live Session #111

by oz on March 26, 2013

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One of my fondest memories at SxSW 2012 was watching Bahamas at Antones at noon on Wednesday with a crowd of about 40 people. I attended with Woody, who was not yet a Bahamas fan. As Bahamas founder and lead singer, Afie Jurvanen, demonstrated his impeccable guitar skills on his electric Strat, Woody began to light up. As if sensing that Woody was converting, Afie seemed to stare directly at him as he crooned into the microphone. Woody leaned over slowly and whispered “He’s singing straight into my soul right now.”

We had a quick laugh and then were entranced with an incredible half-hour set by Bahamas. The tone of Afie’s guitar was overshadowed by the tone of his silky smooth vocals which are accented by his band of angelic backup singers and gentle percussion from Jason Tait, who previously played with the Weakerthans, Broken Social Scene and the FemBots. It was after that set that we met Afie and tentatively booked a session for a TBD date in the future in Chicago.

The session is pure magic. All the musicians in one room and only one microphone. This is what live sessions are about – simplicity and unbridled talent at the epicenter. The songs represent a mix of both Bahamas albums, Pink Strat and Barchords, released by Jack Johnson’s label Brushfire Records. And you’ll get a bit of that beach vibe when listening to Bahamas, but Afie’s Canadian roots somehow make his albums all-season affairs, suitable for both summer barbecues and winter nights by the fire. Take a dip into the session and check out those albums. If Bahamas doesn’t break like the Lumineers at some point soon, I’ll be shocked.

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Bahamas Band Introduction

Exclusive: Bahamas – Already Yours

Exclusive: Bahamas – Till The Morning

Exclusive: Bahamas – Montreal

Exclusive: Bahamas – Southern Drawl

Download the Bahamas Live Sessions as a zip file.

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Patterson Hood is responsible for this music blog existing. We’ve probably never told the story, but Woody and I met at a business event in Chicago where things like insurance, mortgage, real estate, home security systems, outsourced HR, search engine optimization or similar such bullshit was being discussed. I think we were both wearing slacks. As we were filling up our coffee cups, one of us asked the other what we were into in real life. “I like music” said the other. “What type of music?” asked the other. “Have you ever heard of Drive-By Truckers…”

Have you ever heard of Drive-By Truckers? That became my qualifier for anyone that I met at a party or on an airplane if music entered conversation. I’d ask a stranger, “What type of music do you like?” and they’d reply, “I like everything!” When they asked me, I’d say “Have you heard of a band called Drive-By Truckers?” On one or two occasions I got a “yes” response. I still keep in touch with those people.

So Patterson Hood walking through the doors of Shirk Music + Sound to lay down a HearYa session? Kind of like Justin Beiber walking into an all-girls middle school. Patterson Hood’s side projects have always been worthwhile departures from his core DBT body of work and with each album, he has matured as a solo artist. For me, last year’s Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance  proved that Patterson Hood can firmly stand on his own. It shows that his songwriting isn’t restricted to the southern rock DBT sound and that he can weave in graceful piano ballads and deeply moving (and very personal lyrics) without making the die hard Truckers fans flinch. At the session, Woody asked Patterson about why he decided to use the piano as a centerpiece on Heat Lightning and his response was simple: “Because I have Jay.”

The Downtown Rumblers include the aforementioned Jay Gonzalez and Brad Morgan from DBT, Page and Claire Campbell from an Athens band called Hope For a Golden Summer, and Jacob Morris on cello. The songs performed in session with us are three of my favorites from the album – “Come Back Little Star” was on of my favorites all year. It was co-written by Kelly Hogan in tribute to the tragic loss of their friend and Athens music icon, Vic Chesnutt, who died in 2009. I’ll leave you with the opening lines and you can hear the rest below.

Heaven blue eyes
Those long black lashes
Razor tongue and Southern drawl
Pouring out like molasses
That trail of silver mercury
To show us all where you’ve been
You always have a drink in your hand
But your liver ain’t what it used to be

I’m really not mad
I’m just trying hard to understand
We both had these dreams too long
to let them slip through your hands
I’ve had a drink or two myself to control the sting
This town got blown to tatters
when you traded in your wheels for wings

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Patterson Hood & The Downtown Rumblers Intro

Exclusive: Patterson Hood – Disappear

Exclusive: Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance

Exclusive: Patterson Hood – Come Back Little Star

Download the Patterson Hood & The Downtown Rumblers Session as a zip file.

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We recently featured a new track from Denver, the Portland alt-country group featuring members of Blitzen Trapper. Their bio is simple and drops reference to country supergroup, The Highwaymen, whose debut album was my favorite as a youngster.

This “Ramshackle All-Star Country Band” fashions itself a sort of modern-day Highwaymen. Denver’s co-founders and chief songwriters Tom Bevitori, Mike Elias and Birger Olsen exchange lead vocals, drunkenly swaying between dusty saloons and that lonesome country air. The band has since filled out its line-up with a supporting cast, which includes Blitzen Trapper’s Eric Earley and Michael Van Pelt, drummer Sean MacNeil, and a rotating crew of Portland’s finest.

I’ve been spending lots of weekends at Lake of the Ozarks this summer and it’s been fun finding new music that fits the scene – either cruising in a boat, floating on a raft, sitting on the porch or on the dock with a fishing pole, all with a cold beer in hand. Along with The Wooden Sky’s new album, Denver is getting the most play lakeside.

Their debut album will be released on August 14th via Mama Bird Recording Co and we’re pumped to premiere their second single, “Reno.” Get your twang on.

Denver – Reno

Previously posted:

Denver – The Way It Is

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I’m really excited to share this Aaron Embry track. After consuming mass quantities of music over the years, it’s easy to ignore solo artists with just a first and last name. Although it’s counter to our purpose as music evangelists, I’m totally guilty of judging the solo artist with a knee-jerk, cynical reaction – “Probably just another singer/songwriter.”

Aaron Embry is not your average singer/songwriter, putzing around with an acoustic guitar, mediocre songs and a passable voice. He has spent the past three years as the pianist in Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and he’s toured with Elliott Smith, Daniel Lanois and Willie Nelson. He started recording a solo album called Tiny Prayers in April and it’s set to release this fall.

“Moon Of The Daylit Sky” is the first single and it stopped me in my tracks. It starts off like Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) covering a Willie Nelson song and then grows into something magical – and unique to Embry. His voice has incredible tone and depth and as a songwriter he is equally adept at crafting captivating lyrics and composing beautiful arrangements.  Stream or download the track below. This song is an addiction.

Aaron Embry – Moon Of The Daylit Sky

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Blitzen Trapper side project, Denver. The Way It Is [new mp3]

July 6, 2012

Blitzen Trapper has quietly formed a side project called Denver with the help of band members form Alela Diane’s Wild Divine and others. If you’re like me, much of the Blitzen Trapper appeal lies in the alt-country numbers – like most of the work found in their best album, Furr. Denver promises to deliver more of [...]

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Lindsay Fuller, Live Session #104

July 2, 2012

Words I use to describe Lindsay Fuller’s debut album You, Anniversary: Aching. Heartbreaking. Devastating. Haunting. Beautiful. The album is paradoxical with dark subject matter enveloped in a sound that is warm and inviting, like Gillian Welch singing passages from Edgar Allen Poe. If you’re unfamiliar with Lindsay Fuller, I’d urge you not to listen until [...]

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Two Gallants’ Broken Eyes [new mp3]

June 7, 2012

San Francisco’s Two Gallants have been quiet for the past five years, but the silence has been broken with an announcement that they’ve signed with ATO Records and will be releasing a new album on September 4th. The Bloom and The Blight was produced by John Congleton (The Walkmen, Explosions In The Sky, St. Vincent) [...]

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Joe Pug – The Great Despiser [Album Review]

May 1, 2012

I once said that it’s hard to put a price tag on Joe Pug’s music. I received his debut EP Nation of Heat in the mail while living in Northern California, shortly after moving away from Chicago. His debut LP Messenger arrived while living in Atlanta, shortly after leaving California. And now his sophomore LP, [...]

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Heartless Bastards, Live Session #101

April 25, 2012

On day one of SXSW, Heartless Bastards gave us one of our best memories. If you’ve ever been to SXSW, you know to expect your fair share of problems – venues with awful acoustics, sound problems, and laptop failures for the hipster bands. You expect issues in parking lots set up as makeshift stages, but [...]

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Field Report’s Fergus Falls: Best song of the year so far? [new mp3]

April 23, 2012

We mentioned that Field Report was one of our favorite new discoveries at SXSW this year. Christopher Porterfield ended his previous Milwaukee-based band, Conrad Plymouth, and emerged with a new one called Field Report, seemingly overnight. They recorded an album at Justin Vernon’s studio in December of last year and more recently, they’ve been touring [...]

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