This week’s Music City Roots features Riders In The Sky, soul funk band Space Capone, and a brilliant breakout set by Minneapolis newcomer John Mark Nelson. Suzy Bogguss, scheduled for the evening, had to scratch due to weather delays flying home from New York, so because the show came up short and because we missed her, we included part of a 2011 set by Suzy. And there’s some humor in this one, too, as Riders’ bass man Too Slim puts on street clothes to perform as satiric songwriter Say No More, It’s Freddy LaBour.
About the artists:
Riders in the Sky is an American Western music and comedy group which began performing in 1977. Their style also appeals to children, and they are sometimes considered a children’s band. They have won two Grammy Awards and have written and performed music for major motion pictures, including “Woody’s Roundup” from Toy Story 2 and Pixar‘s short film, For the Birds.
For much of their career, the group was a trio: lead singer/guitarist Ranger Doug (Douglas B. Green), singer/fiddler Woody Paul (Paul Chrisman), and singer/bassist Too Slim (Fred LaBour). In the 1990s, the group re-added Joey the Cowpolka King Joey Miskulin on accordion, who had been with the group for a brief period in the 1980s. They usually introduce themselves as “Ranger Doug, the Idol of American Youth”, “Woody Paul, the King of the Cowboy Fiddlers”, “Too Slim, the Man of a Thousand Hats” and “Joey, the Cowpolka King”.
In their first 30-plus years, Riders in the Sky have performed in over 6200 live performances, almost 300 national television appearances, over 200 public radio shows, 700 Grand Ole Opry appearances, three television series (including a 1991–92 CBS Saturday morning show), an appearance on an episode of “Duck Dodgers” on Cartoon Network and more than 30 albums. The group also wrote and appeared in numerous Christmas specials on TNN and CMT in the 1990s. They are based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Riders in the Sky perform authentic renditions of old classic cowboy and Western songs, as well as original works and various comedic skits and songs. Their sketches often include allusions to something being done in a dishonest or lazy manner; with Ranger Doug typically responding to this observation by saying “You fellers know that that would be the easy way. But it wouldn’t be the cowboy way!”
Space Capone is the brain child behind artist Aaron Winters. Starting to write songs in his teens, he made music that many critics considered blue-eyed soul. Like all great artists, his writing, recording and live performances grew into something more. He ultimately found inspiration from listening to artists like Michael Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire, and Bill LaBounty. He wanted his artist name to be an idea, and not a person. In 2008, with the completion of his first record as Space Capone, the idea was born.
From 2008 to present, Space Capone has become an entity of phenomenal musicians that share in Aaron’s passion for classic R&B but also bring their own elements to the table.
Some milestones for Space Capone have been performing at major festivals like Bonnaroo, ACL, and Hangout Fest, as well as collaborating with Jerry Hey who helped arrange music for artists like Michael Jackson, Earth Wing & Fire, and Toto.
The biggest highlight has been pairing up with the non-profit “Notes for Notes” which actually gives free studio time and lessons to under privileged kids. “We’ve even let some of these teens open for us, and they always nail it,” Aaron says, “It’s important for us to help the process of making music available for everyone. You never know what struggles some of the kids go through, and how making music can change their perspective.”
John Mark Nelson is an independent American Acoustic, Folk, Ambient songwriter born on 3 November 1993 from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Raised in a musical home, playing instruments and writing songs was more of a second language than another pastime. In December, 2011 John Mark quietly released his debut album ‘Still Here‘. His second release ‘Waiting and Waiting‘ out in August 2012. At this time, Mark is producing his third album ‘The Moon and the Stars‘ with a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production.
The Current said about the participation of Nelson in compilation: “The other thought I’m struck with while listening to “A Day in the Life” is that John Lennon was dead for 14 years when John Mark Nelson was born. Yet this is the perfect kick-off track, capturing the Beatles at the height of John and Paul’s collaboration, and offering a potentially intimidating challenge to any artist today to tackle. Maybe it is John Mark Nelson’s youth that enables him to grasp it unabashed and imbue it with both respect and re-invention, adding a sax solo from Kenni Holmen that takes the song to a new place.”
Jon Schober from NPR wrote: “When people hear John Mark Nelson’s music for the first time, there’s often a sense of disbelief. With arrangements that recall the work of veteran songwriters, the 19-year-old Minnesota native has been recording sophisticated compositions since he was 14”.
The University of Minnesota wrote: “Music always being a part of his life and home, John Mark’s Bon Iver like sound young in life giving it a unique whimsical sound infused with simplistically deep lyrics. Who knows if it’s his lyrics that stick in your head for days, his toe-tappin’ folk tunes or his impressive beard that would make any young hipster boy envious, but the Twin Cities are crazy about John Mark Nelson and are excited for much more to come”.
“As there are more and more musicians employing these techniques every day, standing out is a challenge, but 18-year-old folkie John Mark Nelson has been scooped out of the Bandcamp fray. Nelson’s popular trajectory has more to do with a pleasantly constructed presence on the web — with the all-important “Minneapolis” tag—than a lengthy run in local clubs.”
Susan Kay “Suzy” Bogguss (born December 30, 1956) is an American country music singer and songwriter. Bogguss began her career in the early 1980s as a solo singer. In the 1990s, she released one platinum and three gold albums and charted six top ten singles, winning the Academy of Country Music‘s award for Top New Female Vocalist and the Country Music Association‘s Horizon Award.
After taking a brief recording hiatus in the mid-1990s to start a family with her husband, songwriter Doug Crider, Bogguss returned to the country music industry, but did not match her earlier success. Although she last appeared on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart in 2001, Bogguss continues to record and tour extensively.
In 1987, Bogguss released her first three singles for Capitol, a cover of The Ink Spots‘ 1941 song “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire,” “Love Will Never Slip Away,” and “Come as You Were“. Two of these singles succeeded in making the lower reaches of the Billboard country music charts. Her debut studio album for Capitol, Somewhere Between was released in March 1989. Somewhere Between, with its blend of traditional and contemporary styles, drew positive reviews from critics. The album’s second single, “Cross My Broken Heart,” became a top-20 hit on the country music charts. The same year, Bogguss won the award for Top New Female Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music.
For her second album, Moment of Truth, production tasks were taken over by new label-head and Nashville producer Jimmy Bowen, who moved Bogguss’s sound in a more polished direction. However, the album’s two singles failed to rise beyond the lower reaches of the Billboard charts. A duet she recorded with Lee Greenwood, “Hopelessly Yours,” went to No. 12 on the country singles chart and received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Country Vocal Collaboration.
In 1991 Bogguss released her third studio album, the platinum-selling Aces. The LP yielded four hit singles – “Someday Soon,” “Outbound Plane,” “Aces,” and “Letting Go,” the latter three reaching the country Top Ten. At the 1992 Country Music Association Awards, Bogguss won the Horizon Award.In September of that year, Bogguss began designing women’s leather apparel; the apparel was sold in stores in the West Coast.
Her 1992 follow-up, Voices in the Wind, earned Bogguss her second straight gold record. The album’s first single, a cover of the 1988 song “Drive South” by John Hiatt, missed the No. 1 spot but gave Bogguss the highest-charting hit of her career to date. Her streak continued the following year with another gold record, Something Up My Sleeve, giving her two additional Top Five hits in “Just Like the Weather” and “Hey Cinderella“. The latter, which she cowrote with Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison, has gone on to become one of Bogguss’s signature songs. In May 1993, Bogguss appeared on the CBS television special The Women of Country.
Eventually, Bogguss became the sole producer of her sixth studio album, Simpatico. The album consisted of duets with long-time friend and guitarist Chet Atkins. The album was released in 1994, and though it was generally well reviewed, its only single, “One More for the Road,” did not chart. That same year, Bogguss’s Greatest Hits album was released and went gold. Later, Bogguss collaborated with Alison Krauss, Kathy Mattea, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash to contribute “Teach Your Children” to the AIDS benefit compilation album Red Hot + Country produced by the Red Hot Organization.
Upon completing Simpatico, Bogguss temporarily set her music aside to start a family. Bogguss and Crider’s first child, Benton Charles Crider, was born on March 17, 1995. She also scaled down her touring dates as a result for three years. In May of that year, Bogguss performed at the White House with Kathy Mattea and Alison Krauss. This event later aired on PBS stations in September as Women of Country Music. In July 1996, she released her seventh studio album, entitled Give Me Some Wheels. During her break, the climate of country music had changed considerably, with more pop-oriented female singers such as Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Sara Evans and Shania Twain dominating the charts. Bogguss’s traditional, straightforward style failed to connect with younger listeners, and the record yielded low sales. In March 1997, Bogguss performed at the Every Woman’s Challenge charity concert, which was held at the Palm Springs Convention Center in California.
Following her departure from Capitol, Bogguss signed with Nashville-based fledgling label Platinum Records, headed by former Capitol executive George Collier. Within three months, she had released her self-titled ninth studio album, Suzy Bogguss. Once again, the album was unsuccessful, with her only single “Goodnight” making an appearance on the country charts.
In 2001, Bogguss founded her own record label, Loyal Dutchess. The label’s first album, Live at Caffé Milano, documents three separate 1999 performances at the Caffé Milano in Nashville. This release is only available for purchase at Bogguss’s official website. In November 2001, she released the holiday album, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, a compilation of new and previously available material included through a special licensing agreement with Capitol.In addition to being available at her website, the album was also offered through Amazon.com, select retailers, and at her live performances.
In March 2003, Bogguss and Loyal Dutchess Records signed a deal with Compadre Records. Her first release on this label was the Western swing album, Swing, that she had been recording with producer Ray Benson, the bandleader of Western swing group Asleep at the Wheel. Although the album saw only lukewarm sales (it reached No. 6 on the jazz album charts, but failed to appear on the Billboard 200), it was well-received by critics. Bogguss’ next album, Sweet Danger, was released in 2007.The album peaked at No. 4 on the jazz charts. In July 2011, Bogguss released her twelfth studio album, American Folk Songbook. The album consisted of renditions of several American folk songs, such as “Red River Valley“.