Music City Roots gets back to new episodes this week with our May 15th archived show, featuring fascinating and rapturous Texas band Seryn, along with Annie & The Beekeepers, Brian Ashley-Jones, Los Colognes, and Phil Lee.
About the artists:
Seryn is a 6 piece band who calls Denton, Texas their home. When listening to the well layered textures of guitars, ukulele, accordion, bass, viola, banjo and various percussion, it’s hard to imagine This Is Where We Are is the band’s debut effort. The band’s strength resides in their vast musical talent and understanding of dynamics. Their beauty is gracefully displayed through chilling harmonies. Each member and their voice carry the same importance. One is not complete without the other.
It is in this craft that the young band shines so bright. It has earned them a sound that isn’t easily defined, but still proven triumphant. What may first appear as straight folk songs, later transcend into menacing walls of sound. The term “Folk-Pop” has been thrown around and maybe it loosely fits, but we will leave the definitions up to you.
This is Where We Are was produced by Britton Beisenherz (Ramble Creek), and recorded over the course of a few months. The experience felt at their live show seems to be captured well in these recordings, which was something of great importance to the band. The band has created their own buzz in the most traditional way too by winning people over at their shows. It’s not often that a band without a record out is able to play so many great bills and sold out shows. Much less, be nominated for awards such as Best Folk Artist, and Song of the Year (Dallas Observer). There is no shortage of regional press on them either but the band is excited to take their sound, their show, and their new record on the road. They will be traveling all over the US in the coming months. Go see them play and you will be sucked in!
Annie Lynch began her love of live music while eavesdropping on the Cape Cod Little Fiddlers’ painstakingly squeaky rehearsal in the gym of her elementary school en route to after-school pickup. This was music to her ears. The sound of their little uneven bows on the cheap instruments might as well have been that of a world-class orchestra. She begged her parents for a violin, a wish they were pleased to grant, and screeched her way through five years of Suzuki lessons until she discovered the music of Joni Mitchell and began to sing. Guitar followed singing, writing followed guitar, and by the time Annie was fourteen, creating and performing songs had seemingly become a vital necessity to her coming of age. Her love of bowed instruments would continue though, thankfully, her violin has not since been publicly unearthed.
After several teenage years of playing locally in coffeehouses on Cape Cod, Annie attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she met the musicians who would become known as “The Beekeepers”, Alexandra Spalding (Cello and Voice), Ken Woodward (Bass), and Mat Davidson (multi-instrumentalist). Annie and The Beekeepers recorded a demo of Annie’s songs in the winter of 2006, and continued on to release their self-titled debut, Annie Lynch and The Beekeepers in 2007 with Grammy-nominated producer-engineer, Jack Gauthier. The album was given rave reviews from the likes of The Boston Globe and Paste Magazine, and receives frequent airplay on Boston’s WUMB and WERS, and NYC’s WFUV amongst others. The city’s Americana music scene warmly embraced Annie and The Beekeepers, and it took little time for the foursome to gather northeastern notoriety.
In 2009, the group released their EP, Squid Hell Sessions, named after the studio in the Jamaica Plane neighborhood of Boston where Berklee peers, Adrian Olsen and Kyle VandeKerkhoff, recorded the bulk of the EP. Amidst the release of Squid Hell Sessions, the band relocated to Brooklyn, NY. Annie and The Beekeepers went on to tour nationally, sharing stages at venues like NYC’s Town Hall and Bowery Ballroom, and Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium with the likes of Josh Ritter, Justin Townes Earle, Joe Pug, David Wax Museum, The Low Anthem, and Lissie. Annie and The Beekeepers have performed at notable festivals such as SXSW, Philadelphia Folk Festival, Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, and Boston Folk Festival. In September of 2010, the band embarked on their first UK tour, highlighted by a slot at End of the Road music festival in Dorset.
Upon completion of this tour, the band changed outfits to create the newly-released and already critically acclaimed album, “My Bonneville”, named after Annie’s first car. Annie and The Beekeepers, now including multi-instrumentalists, Jeni Magana, Javier Cruz, and Keenan O’Meara released “My Bonneville” with headlining shows at NYC’s Joe’s Pub and The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Performer Magazine describes “My Bonneville” as “American roots music, sweetly intimate with vast boot-stomping songwriting”. The album is due to be rereleased in March of 2013.
Brian Ashley-Jones is a soulful singer, accomplished guitarist, and versatile Americana songwriter whose compositions have been placed in film and television and recorded by a variety of other performing artists. Jones’ songs find influence in the guitar-driven Country, Blues and Bluegrass that he absorbed in his hometown, Spartanburg, South Carolina. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Brian performs internationally at festivals and concert series and leads seminars for music education programs, music business conferences, and NSAI chapters around the USA.
Brian’s current independent release, Courier, made the Top 40 of the Roots Music Report, broke the Top 100 of the Americana Music Association’s album chart, and is receiving widespread commercial, college, public, and international radio play. The swampy instrumental “Pull ‘em Up” has been featured in the widely acclaimed PBS television series “Road Trip Nation” and footage of Jones performing “Free To Miss You” live at The Bluebird Cafe has been featured in the British network television show “Amanda Holden’s Fantasy Lives”. The Brian Ashley Jones Trio showcased these songs as official performers at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and Brian was nominated for Best American Roots Guitar Player in the Alternate Root’s 2011 Reader’s Choice Awards!
Along with his own busy touring schedule, Jones has accompanied a diverse batch of artists on stage and in the recording studio including Grammy Award winning songwriter Jon Vezner, Eric Heatherly, Caroline Aiken, Thom Shepherd, Sara Hickman, Donna Hopkins, David Gans, Corinne West, Doug Jones, Donovan Roberts, Jeff Black, Diane Durrett, Ralph Roddenbery, Deep Blue Sun, Celeste Krenz, Wyatt Easterling, and Spuyten Duyvil.
Aaron Mortenson and Jay Rutherford set out to make their debut Los Colognes album in the mold of the great JJ Cale records of the ‘70s. Working Together is parched desert country blues at its best—full of relationships gone south, one-liners that make you think twice, and slow-burning boogie woogie.
When they got to Nashville, the Chicago singer-guitarist and drummer set up shop at the weekly East Nashville late night jam at The 5 Spot. It was here they built a forum for a rotating cast of Nashville musicians to come sit in. “It’s kind of harking back to the old Nashville—a singer, song, session cats, producers putting bands together on the fly,” says Jay. The core members would soon be drafted as the backing players for Nashville artists like Rayland Baxter, Nikki Lane, and Kevin Gordon. Three years of tightening their sound and soaking up the remaining strains of classic country music in Nashville, Los Colognes’ Working Together reflects the simple but straight-on lyricism of John Prine, the unhurried grooves of Cale, with a touch Mark Knopfler’s mid-‘80s Dire Straits polish.
If Phil Lee was as good at knife-throwing as he is at songwriting he would be on the David Letterman show three times a week. He may very well be that good at it – he practices enough – but listening to any one of his excellent CDs, including this new one, has great rewards and fewer risks – at least for the audience. Phil has never feared, personally or lyrically, to scamper out on a limb with a gleam in his eye and a hacksaw in his hand. Sometimes a club owner or promoter will “suggest” that certain of his songs might ruffle a local feather or two but danged if he won’t have those very birds squarely in his corner before the night is done. Charm, guts and great material can get you a long way. Like Wile E. Coyote, he has a knack for recovering from the most explosive circumstances but unlike that hapless canine he usually ends up on top and grinning. This has been of immense help in his previous incarnations as a truck driver, roadie, huckster and bon vivant. Phil Lee likes to say that “at a hundred, my age, weight and IQ have all averaged out.” Maybe so but if that’s true he’s sure getting maximum output in all three areas. He writes constantly, eats a sensible diet and, peripatetic as hell, he won’t hesitate to haul out of his Nashville habitations in his pickup for a gig in Wisconsin on a Friday, cannonball from there to Missouri on Saturday and hit Indiana on Sunday – after church of course.
Phil Lee writes intelligent songs full of wit, humor and grace that blend sizzling Dylan-esque rock and roll, country and western, mid-sixties British Invasion and medicine show sounds that end up being utterly unique and sung in a voice that can shoot straight through to your heart. His new album is called So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You and he calls it his “first posthumous release. “ There’s nothing wrong with putting out a record posthumously except that it raises certain logistical problems when it comes to touring. And there’s also the teeny tiniest little glitch in the truth in advertising area, since Phil Lee is most definitely still very much among the quick. Maybe he’s just thinking five or six decades ahead – and it’s even money even then. His guitar player/producer/accomplice/crony Richard Bennett dubbed him “the Don Rickles of Rock” and true, Phil will sometimes fan his quills porcupine-style as a situational barometer. But he doesn’t do it much these days; no need. When you make records as good as Phil Lee does, winning friends and influencing people is a cinch.