Thursday, November 30, 2017

James Hunter news

I saw JH6 live for the first time at Doheny Blues Fest in Orange County, Calif. a couple years ago and was blown away. Can't wait to hear his new stuff...

James Hunter follows up five critically acclaimed albums with his next recording, Whatever It Takes, for New York City’s Daptone Records. It is scheduled for international release on Feb. 2. The James Hunter Six and Daptone co-founder/producer Bosco Mann recorded 10 originals straight to tape at Daptone’s Penrose Studios in Riverside, Calif. 

As the first Brit to sign to Daptone Records, Hunter is revered by critics both in his native UK and stateside, his accolades include reaching #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart; a Grammy nomination for “Best Traditional Blues Album”; years as a singer touring and recording with Van Morrison; appearances on Conan, Later…with Jools Holland, and other late night TV shows.

To pre-order Whatever It Takes, please visit:

Track listing: 

I Don’t Wanna Be Without You
Whatever It Takes
I Got Eyes
I Should’ve Spoke Up
Show Her
Don’t Let Pride Take You for a Ride
How Long
It Was Gonna Be You

Tour dates:

February 16 – Annapolis, MD – Rams head
February 17 – Fairfield, Connecticut – StageOne
February 18 – Pawling, New York – Daryls House
February 19 – Boston, Massachusetts – City Winery
February 21 – New York – City Winery
February 22 – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – ArtsQuest
February 23 – Maplewood, New Jersey – Rent Party
February 24 – Washington, DC – Pearl Street Warehouse
February 26 – March 2 – Miami, FL/Montego Bay, Jamaica – Keeping the Blues Alive Cruise
March 6 – London, UK – Borderline
March 8 – Paris, France – La Boule Noire
March 9 – Alencon, France – La Luciole
March 10 – Cleon, France – La Traverse
March 13 – Munchen, Germany – Ampere
March 14 – Koln, Germany – Luxor
March 15 – Hannover, Germany – Faust
March 16 – Hamburg, Germany – Knust
March 17 – Berlin, Germany – Lido
March 23 – Madrid, Spain – Secret Social Club
March 24 – Miranda de Ebro, Spain – Ebrovision event
March 25 – Badalona, Spain – Teatre Principal

Monday, November 27, 2017

Morrissey update

Morrissey just released 'Low in High School,' his first studio album since 2014 and his debut for BMG and his new label, Etienne Records.

Once again, producer Joe Chiccarelli took the reigns during the recording at La Fabrique Studios in France and Ennio Morricone's Forum Studios in Rome. Album formats are digital, CD, colored vinyl and limited edition cassette. Watch Morrissey perform debut single "Spent the Day in Bed" live on The Graham Norton Show in England:

"Jacky's Only Happy When She's Up On The Stage" was released on a 7" that features a cover of Elvis Presley's "You'll Be Gone." Listen to "Jacky's" here:
Earlier this month, the Los Angeles City Council declared Nov. 10 "Morrissey Day" in LA, which included an official commemorative certificate presented at the first of two sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl, which, for the first time, changed its menus to all vegetarian. 

Track List:

My Love I'd Do Anything For You
I Wish You Lonely
Jacky's Only Happy When She's Up On The Stage
Home Is A Question Mark
Spent The Day In Bed
I Bury The Living
In Your Lap
The Girl From Tel-Aviv Who Wouldn't Kneel
All The Young People Must Fall In Love
When You Open Your Legs
Who Will Protect Us From The Police?

Remaining US tour dates: 

Thu, Nov 30 - Washington, DC - The Anthem
Sat, Dec 2 - New York, NY - Theatre at Madison Square Garden
Mon, Dec 4 - Philadelphia, PA - The Fillmore
Thu, Dec 7 - Boston, MA - Orpheum Theatre

John Wetton/Geoff Downes collaboration reissued

iCon Zero, a revised presentation of the Wetton/Downes album and a precursor to their iCon series of albums has received a 2017 remaster and includes two previously unreleased bonus tracks. It was mostly recorded in the late 1980s through the time of their brief reformation in 1990.

The original version of the album was released in 2002 and in retrospect seemed like an iCon album from a previous era, so both John Wetton and Geoff Downes agreed to it being brought into the iCon family. John came up with the name Zero, and both John and Geoff approved the new front cover artwork. Downes reminisced about this time period in their joint career:

"Icon Zero brings back many fond memories of working with John back in the early-mid 80s. Despite being the principal writers for Asia, we both felt there was at least one other string to our bow. This manifested itself in later years as the Icon project, and this album is an insight into the inner workings of our early relationship, not just as members of Asia, but also as songwriters. These recordings were made largely at weekends when we rented demo studios to try out our ‘other’ ideas and simply - have some fun time away from the pressures of the music business. Most of these songs were put together in a few hours, and written on the fly. Then, they were recorded straight down that same day. One great aspect of this was, we always seemed came up with something new, and as the inspiration flowed it was captured there and then even in its embryonic form."

Wetton passed away in January 2017, but this release was already planned, with his estate and Downes approving it going ahead as scheduled. Downes also added:

“John was a genius in every sense of the word, and I am most privileged to have been a big part of his career. The Icon project in itself stands alone as a complete cycle of our work together, and this album (Icon Zero) displays an important part of that development. The great John Wetton’s unique presence can be felt on every note and lyric of these songs. Please enjoy.”

iCon Zero will be followed by definitive edition re-releases of the subsequent three iCon albums, with bonus tracks, during 2018 with Geoff Downes’ personal approval.

To purchase John Wetton & Geoff Downes iCon Zero:

Amazon CD:

Panic! At the Disco live album arrives soon

Since I reviewed this tour when it arrived at the LA Forum (see review elsewhere here), I can't wait to hear the album. Read more from the press release below...

Panic! At the Disco's All My Friends, We're Glorious, a 21-track live album recorded on the band's recent Death Of A Bachelor Tour, is due for release on Dec. 15 via Fueled By Ramen/DCD2/Crush Music. It will be available digitally as well as on limited edition double vinyl. The album can be pre-ordered HERE.

Following the tour, Urie made his Broadway debut starring in the Tony-winning musical Kinky Boots. Urie joined the cast as Charlie Price from May 26-August 6 at The Hirschfeld Theatre, a period in which the hit musical posted its highest weekly gross since the 2014 holiday season.

Most recent studio album Death Of A Bachelor was released in 2016 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It was the highest selling rock album and fourth-highest selling album overall in 2016, according to Nielsen Soundscan.

Earlier this year, the Recording Industry Association of America honored Panic! At The Disco with the platinum certification of Death Of A Bachelor for exceeding 1,000,000 units sold. The album has also spawned RIAA certified gold singles "Hallelujah", "Emperor's New Clothes", and "Death Of A Bachelor". Death of A Bachelor was nominated for Best Rock Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards.

Track listing:

1. Don't Threaten Me With A Good Time
2. LA Devotee
3. Ready To Go (Get Me Out Of My Mind)
4. Golden Days
5. Vegas Lights
6. A Fever You Can't Sweat Out Medley
7. Hallelujah
8. Nine In The Afternoon
9. Miss Jackson
10. This Is Gospel
11. Death Of A Bachelor
12. The Ballad Of Mona Lisa
13. Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
14. Emperor's New Clothes
15. Nicotine
16. Crazy = Genius
17. Let's Kill Tonight
18. Girls/Girls/Boys
19. Bohemian Rhapsody
20. I Write Sins Not Tragedies
21. Victorious

Frank Turner revisits his catalog with 'Songbook'

Frank Turner’s Songbook – a retrospective set spanning his illustrious career – is available now on Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor/Interscope Records. Songbook brings together highlights from across Frank’s six albums alongside 10 new versions of other tracks. These re-imagined versions see some songs re-recorded in full and some stripped-down to an acoustic setting.

A vinyl and deluxe box set edition is out Dec. 15. The release also includes new track “There She Is.”

In addition to the digital release, Songbook can be purchased in a variety of physical formats: a standard double-disc CD release, a triple-vinyl version and a triple-vinyl deluxe boxset. The deluxe boxset will also include a DVD of the film “Get Better”—a previously-unseen concert film from Frank’s 2000th gig at Nottingham’s Rock City in December 2016 — and an exclusive photobook of pictures taken throughout Frank’s career.

Watch “Long Live The Queen” live from Nottingham Rock City HERE.

Track listing:

Four Simple Words
I Still Believe
The Next Storm
The Road
Long Live The Queen
Glorious You
Plain Sailing Weather
I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
Wessex Boy
The Opening Act Of Spring
Polaroid Picture
If Ever I Stray
The Way I Tend To Be
The Ballad Of Me And My Friends
Get Better
There She Is

Photosynthesis (Songbook version)
The Way I Tend To Be (Songbook Version)
Glorious You (Songbook Version)
Josephine (Songbook Version)
Polaroid Picture (Songbook Version)
Love 40 Down (Songbook Version)
I Am Disappeared (Songbook Version)
Broken Piano (Songbook Version)
Long Live The Queen (Songbook Version)
The Ballad Of Me And My Friends (Songbook Version)

John Oates readies solo album

photo: Philip Murphy
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Oates has teamed with Americana musicians for his upcoming album Arkansas, scheduled for Feb. 2 via Thirty Tigers.

It is available for advance order through e-retailers and a Pledge Music campaign including autographed vinyl, limited edition exclusives, hats, shirts, and more.

The project originally began as a tribute to Oates' idol, Mississippi John Hurt. During a series of Nashville recording sessions, it evolved organically to become a unique collection drawing from a wide range of Oates' musical influences. Asked about the style and sound of Arkansas, John says, "It's like Dixieland, dipped in bluegrass, and salted with Delta blues."

Recording was done at Addiction Studios in Nashville with production by Oates and David Kalmusky who also engineered and mixed it. The band consists of Sam Bush on mandolin, Russ Pahl on pedal steel, Guthrie Trapp on electric guitar, Steve Mackey on bass, Nathaniel Smith on cello, and Josh Day on drums and percussion.

Oates shines a light on music from America's past long before the birth of rock 'n' roll. Fresh interpretations include the Emmett Miller classic "Anytime" from 1924 as well as the Jimmie Rodgers tune, "Miss the Mississippi and You," from 1932. Reimagined traditional Delta, country blues and ragtime selections salute legendary artists like Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Blake.

"This is the record I have always wanted to make, with the band to bring it to life. After all these years, I feel I've finally been able to capture the sound that's in my head," says Oates.

Two new original songs by Oates blend seamlessly with the traditional roots material, as well as John's deep catalog of Daryl Hall and John Oates hits. Taken together, Oates' music becomes a retrospective of American popular song.

Track listing:

My Creole Belle
Pallate Soft and Low
Miss the Mississippi and You
Stack O Lee
That'll Never Happen No More
Dig Back Deep
Lord Send Me
Spike Driver Blues

Friday, November 17, 2017

Out now: Sia's 'Everyday is Christmas'

Sia's first holiday album, Everyday is Christmas, is available via Monkey Puzzle/Atlantic Records. Co-written by the artist and Greg Kurstin, it can be purchased in stores now and on all digital service providers here:

Lead single “Santa’s Coming For Us” is top 10 on Billboard’s Holiday Songs Chart.

Sia most recently wrapped up the North American leg of her headlining arena Nostalgic For The Present Tour. Sia’s live dates will continue this winter in stadiums across Australia and New Zealand. For more information on her tour dates, visit

Track listing:

1. Santa's Coming For Us
2. Candy Cane Lane
3. Snowman
4. Snowflake
5. Ho Ho Ho
6. Puppies Are Forever
7. Sunshine
8. Underneath The Mistletoe
9. Everyday is Christmas
10. Underneath The Christmas Lights

Out now: 'A Tribute to Dan Fogelberg'

'A Tribute to Dan Fogelberg' is out today. Produced by Dan’s wife, Jean Fogelberg; Norbert Putnam; his lifelong friend and manager, Irving Azoff; and Chuck Morris, the homage to multi-platinum, singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg is released worldwide through BMG.

The album contains recreations of some of Dan’s biggest hits, such as the Top 10 hits, including “Longer,” "Leader of the Band,” and “Same Old Lang Syne.” Songs from his multi-platinum albums are also featured, such as “Phoenix,” “Nether Lands,” and “Part of the Plan.” A complete track listing can be found below.

In August 2017, Dan Fogelberg was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall Of Fame, along with Joe Walsh and Barnstorm and James Guercio of Caribou Ranch, during “The Rocky Mountain Way” event at the Fiddlers Green near Denver. The tribute concert featured Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with Richie Furay, Fools Gold & others performing selections from Dan Fogelberg’s illustrious career to a sold-out crowd of nearly 20,000 fans.

The memorable night was capped with most of the night’s performers joining on stage for an epic rendition of “There's A Place In The World For A Gambler” led by Garth Brooks. The concert was filmed and will air in Spring 2018 on AXS TV.

Track listing:

1. Phoenix performed by Garth Brooks
2. Nether Lands performed by Donna Summer
3. Better Change performed by Michael McDonald
4. Longer performed by Amy Grant/Vince Gill
5. Same Old Lang Syne performed by Train
6. Don’t Lose Heart performed by Dobie Gray
7. Old Tennessee performed by Fool’s Gold/Denny Henson and Tom Kelly
8. As the Raven Flies performed by Casey James
9. Sutters Mill performed by Randy Owens
10. Run for the Roses performed by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with Richie Furay
11. Hard to Say performed by Boz Scaggs
12. Part of the Plan performed by the Eagles
13. There’s a Place in the World for a Gambler performed by Jimmy Buffett
14. Leader of the Band performed by Zac Brown Band

Fans can purchase A Tribute to Dan Fogelberg here:
Google Play

Dan Fogelberg, one of the most popular artists of the '70s and '80s, was a key component of the golden age of the singer/songwriter. His second album, the 1974 Joe Walsh-produced Souvenirs, hit the top 20 and led Dan into a three-decade run that would include 11 platinum and two gold albums.

His best- known songs include “Longer”, a ballad that became a wedding ceremony standard; “Leader of the Band,” a tribute to his bandleader father, Lawrence Fogelberg; “Run For The Roses”, the unofficial theme of the Kentucky Derby; and the seasonal staple “Same Old Lang Syne.” Dan Fogelberg died of prostate cancer in 2007.

Coming soon: Neil Young+Promise Of The Real's 'The Visitor'

Here's a new and very descriptive press release I just received...

Neil Young+Promise Of The Real will release their new studio album The Visitor [Reprise Records] on Dec. 1 in stores and via all digital music retailers. The vinyl edition will follow on January 5, 2018. The digital pre-order grants an instant grat download of the new track “Already Great.” Click here to pre-order The Visitor.

When Neil Young entered Shangri La Studio with the band Promise Of The Real a few months ago, there were a lot of images and feelings careening around his soul. The country was heading in a direction Young had never seen, even though up until then he thought he'd seen it all.

But something different was happening, and it had gotten inside his music. "I'm a Canadian by the way and I love the USA," he sings on the first song "Already Great." The ethos of The Visitor can be summed up in the refrain of “Already Great” where Young insists, “Already great, you’re already great. You’re the promise land, the helping hand. No wall. No hate. No fascist USA. WHOSE STREET? OUR STREET.”

From those words, Neil Young was ready to take a musical journey on his new album The Visitor like he had never taken before. It was one where he'd even surprise himself, always the mark of a creative leap. By the end of the recording sessions, he knew he'd made his most diverse album going all the way back to Harvest in 1972, when America was also in the throes of becoming unhinged. Neil Young didn't blink then, and he is not blinking now.

Click here to listen to “Already Great.”

The Visitor is an intriguing and always exciting peek into the mind and heart of one of rock & roll's true seekers. Neil Young has wandered a wide path since coming to Los Angeles from Canada over 50 years ago. During those many decades he has established an immediately apparent individualism that cannot be predicted. Young has often said that when things become ordinary, he's ready to shake things up and head for new ground. It has always been what marks Young's music.

His new songs, whether it's a mashup of spoken word and rock & roll on "Fly By Night" or the heart-stopping beauty of "Forever," once again ask listeners to stay open and ready for whatever comes through the open channels of the man and his unstoppable band.

Listening to an album like The Visitor is not unlike taking off on a cross-country trip without a map. There is no way to tell where the destination will lead or what will be encountered. At one moment the savage rock of "Stand Tall" leads into Caribbean and Latin musical strains rising through on "Carnival," only to turn around to embrace the blues on "Digging a Hole." There is also the modern funk-rock of "When Bad Got Good," the anthemic "Children of Destiny" and the spirit-tugging strength of "Change of Heart" to ensure the musical travels remain full of wonder. With the unlimited ability of Promise of the Real, featuring Lukas and Michah Nelson along with Corey McCormick, Anthony Logerfo and Tato Melgar, the passionate power of their playing pushes the songs to maximum expression. There are very few rock bands now who can go to as many places as this outfit and always deliver their own distinct identity.

The closing song on The Visitor feels like a prayer for today and tomorrow. In "Forever," Neil Young sings "Earth is like a church without a preacher, the people have to pray for themselves." These lines, and everything else on this landmark release point to the future in a way that sounds the alarm for troubled times but at the same time offers hope that, once again, music can help lead the way to understanding and hopefully a better place.

Today Neil Young walks in his own footsteps, just as he has done since his first days venturing into neighborhood clubs in Canada when he was still a teenager. He has a guitar, he has a voice and he has songs that express a unique way of looking at the world. And once again he is ready to tell us where we've been and just maybe where we might be heading. By listening we can join together and share the challenges and find a way forward together. Once again.

In 2015, Neil Young + Promise Of The Real released The Monsanto Years. It bowed at #2 on the Billboard Top 200, #4 on theBillboard Rock Albums Chart, and #2 on the Billboard Folk Albums Chart. They followed up The Monsanto Years with 2016’s live album, Earth. The Visitor is the next step on their collective journey together.

Track listing:

Already Great
Fly By Night Deal
Almost Always
Stand Tall
Change Of Heart
Diggin’ A Hole
Children Of Destiny
When Bad Got Good

Out now: Green Day's 'Greatest Hits: God's Favorite Band'

Green Day has released a new song and accompanying music video for "Back In The USA," which is featured on Greatest Hits: God's Favorite Band. The album is available today via Reprise Records. To watch the video, click HERE and to purchase the album A complete track listing is below.

Greatest Hits: God's Favorite Band includes 20 hits spanning Green Day's 31 years as a band. In addition to "Back In The USA," it also features a new duet with Miranda Lambert on "Ordinary World." Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong previously collaborated with Lambert at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in 2014 for a live duet in tribute of the late Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers.

Earlier this fall, Billie Joe Armstrong performed "Ordinary World" on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon before a performance at Global Citizen Festival in Central Park in New York City. This weekend they will wrap up the current leg of their global tour in Mexico City.

Track Listing:

1. 2000 Light Years Away
2. Longview
3. Welcome To Paradise
4. Basket Case
5. When I Come Around
6. She
7. Brain Stew
8. Hitchin' a Ride
9. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
10. Minority
11. Warning
12. American Idiot
13. Holiday
14. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
15. Wake Me Up When September Ends
16. Know Your Enemy
17. 21 Guns
18. Oh Love
19. Bang Bang
20. Still Breathing
21. Ordinary World (feat Miranda Lambert)
22. Back In The USA

Out now: Tim McGraw & Faith Hill's 'The Rest of Our Life'

Tim McGraw & Faith Hill just released their first album together, The Rest of Our Life. The 11-song collection released by Sony Music Entertainment/Arista Nashville/McGraw Music.

It was produced by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, along with Byron Gallimore and Dann Huff. Fans can see a new music video for “The Rest of Our Life,” directed by Grant Singer, HERE. Included on The Rest of Our Life album is the CMA Award-nominated first single. Directed by Sophie Muller, the clip can be viewed HERE.

Showtime Networks will air the concert special Tim & Faith: Soul2Soul tonight at 9pm, on-air, on demand and over the internet. This marks the first ever county music concert film for the network.

Today marks the opening of the Tim McGraw and Faith Hill exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s week of multiple TV appearances started off with their CBS Sunday Morning feature, which was viewed by over 6 million on November 12. This episode’s airing marks the second consecutive week Sunday’s #1 morning show was watched by 6 million plus; view it HERE.

Last evening, the two superstars appeared on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon; view here segment one, twoand three. And, McGraw and Hill performed and were interviewed during two-hours of NBC’s Today this morning; view here segment one, two and three.

In related news, the pair's Soul2Soul The World Tour 2017 will extend into 2018. Concert tickets are on sale now, with each purchase receiving a copy of the new album. Full details and tour dates can be found at

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Elbow concert review: Santa Ana, Calif.

High Rise PR
Elbow performed last night at the Observatory in Santa Ana, Calif. and kept the capacity crowd enthralled for nearly two hours.

The Manchester alt-rock band is wrapping up a brief North American tour this week behind its stellar latest album Little Fictions, which came out earlier this year, debuted at No. 1 and went gold in the UK. 

On Nov. 24, Elbow will release a Best of collection.

Fans attending the Orange County gig were in for a special treat, as the venue's under-600 capacity was a far cry from the large festivals and arenas the veteran quartet often headlines back home.

Front man Guy Garvey seemed to revel in that intimacy. He enthused about how much he liked the place twice and felt like everyone was gathered inside his bicycle basket. Before launching the 16-song set with a hypnotic "Any Day Now" (from 2001 debut album Asleep in the Back), Garvey raised a glass of beer and toasted the audience. 

Throughout the evening, Elbow's congenial singer urged people to clap or wave their arms along to the music (which got instant reactions), provided brief insights about the songs and sang them with dramatic gestures.

An elegant "Head for Supplies" and the positive vibe of "Magnificent (She Says)" - the first two of five Little Fictions selections played - were heightened by two female violinist/backing vocalists. In fact, the latter tune's title would be an apt description of the entire concert. 

The romantic "Mirrorball," with a recurring piano motif by Craig Potter and subtle strings, was just plain stunning, while some slide guitar work by Potter's brother Mark on "The Birds" elevated the dramatic undertow even more. The 8 1/2-minute-long title track to Little Fictions, with shifting tempos, was mesmerizing. Fans sang along loudly to Elbow's biggest UK hit: the majestic and uplifting main set closer, "One Day Like This."

Come encore time, the band returned for a haunting "Lippy Kids." Then a couple drums were brought to the front of the stage so Garvey could pound away on the ominous, slide guitar-driven top 20 UK single, "Grounds for Divorce."

Monday, November 13, 2017

Driftwood Festival (Day 1) review: Dana Point, Calif.

Chase Rice was performing “Everybody We Know Does” on Saturday night when he paused to emphasize one verse’s heightened relevance after the mass shooting last month in Las Vegas.

Then the Driftwood Festival headliner told the large crowd, “That’s what country music’s all about. When you get knocked down, you get back up.”

Many concertgoers in Dana Point wore Route 91 Harvest Festival hats, t-shirts and “Vegas Strong” slogans in subtle support. Since it was Veteran’s Day, artists like Lit and A Thousand Horses thanked military personnel everywhere. Two local vets were also brought onstage between sets and saluted.    

Alcohol tastings (mostly craft beer, but also wine and vodka) and BBQ food were a big draw at the fest and long booth lines near the sand held steady through the afternoon. At one point, a dozen people line danced in the rear concourse area.

Rice made an immediate impact with a hard-hitting band often reminiscent of Metallica. He opened with the ominous Fall Out Boy-styled “Lions,” from upcoming album “Lambs & Lions, due Nov. 17. The rap-style cadence of “50 Shades of Crazy” went down well. The set fared better when the mood shifted – and actually sounded country - on acoustic guitar-based latest single “Three Chords & the Truth” and another memorable new one, “Eyes on You.”

Sensual hits “Gonna Wanna Tonight” and “Ride” drove female fans crazy. Rice jokingly sang directly to a pal’s girlfriend on the latter while seated on stools. Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” his first big success as a co-writer, drew a hearty response. Later, as the evening wound down, band introductions led into bits of Blink-182 songs.

“This is the most beautiful show I’ve been part of; my heart is bursting with joy,” enthused Frankie Ballard, the Driftwood MVP. Far better than at Stagecoach ’15, the Michigan native emerged to Rufus Thomas’s 1953 Sun Records tune “Tiger Man (King of the Jungle)” and a revving engine sound.

A similar charge ran through his set at Doheny State Beach, featuring ample displays of Ballard’s electric guitar prowess and mighty drummer Travis McNabb (Sugarland, Better Than Ezra).

Standouts included country airplay chart toppers “Young & Crazy,” “Helluva Life” and “Sunshine & Whisky” (all hearty audience singalongs), “It Started with a Beer” (the popular hit off 2016’s underrated “El Rio”) and a fine bluesy medley of the Elvis Presley-popularized “Hound Dog/Heartbreak Hotel.”

Cassadee Pope’s ebullient performance began with one of her best-known songs, “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart.” The audience responded loudly to “Think of You,” the No. 1 recording with Chris Young (done here as a duet with the guitarist), but they were far less attentive to midtempo fare, several unreleased numbers and unfortunately a riveting solo acoustic cover of Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy” – initially done when Pope won NBC’s “The Voice.”
Fullerton band Lit, always solid live, previewed promising new material from a new album scheduled next month, including a thought-provoking “Fast” (whose video did well at CMT), the earthy “Just Feels Right,” “All Eyes on Us” and “Real Good Problem.” 

On the latter tune, Lit leader A. Jay Popoff coaxed co-writer Michael Hobby of A Thousand Horses onstage to sing a few verses. Popoff had no trouble getting the crowd excited, especially during alt-rock hits "Miserable" and the closer, “My Own Worst Enemy.”

A Thousand Horses’ (led by Hobby, pictured below) delivered soulful Southern country/rock with fervor. Locking into a groove from the get-go with “Burn Like Willie,” the foursome seldom let up on the power, from the catchy, newer “Blaze of Something,” The Faces-styled “First Time” and spiritual vibe of “Sunday Morning” to the memorable radio faves “Smoke” and “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial.”

Caroline Jones hosts a SiriusXM radio show, put out the “Bare Feet” EP over the summer and recently toured with Zac Brown Band. The multi-instrumentalist’s pleasant set was most notable for “Worth the Wait,” which nicely segued into Loggins and Messina’s “Danny’s Song” and “Old Blue,” a 19th Century folk ballad where Jones showed off her wide vocal range with producer Ric Wake watching near the soundboard.

Mark Mackay lived up to the unenviable task of playing to early arrivals. The San Francisco native’s current album “Trials and Tribulations” is one of the best indie releases I’ve heard all year.

Backed by a band that included a lap steel player, Mackay dazzled with his electric guitar work. Standouts included the rousing “Mustang,” a John Mellencamp-styled “Settle for a Small Town,” an affecting “I Can’t Stop You” (co-written by country heavy hitter Jeffrey Steele) and winning cover of Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty.”

All photos by Kelly Swift. A version of my review originally appeared at

Friday, November 10, 2017

Out today: Seal's 'Standards'

Today, British soul legend Seal releases his new album, Standards [Republic Records]. Get it HERE.

Standards sees Seal put soul into seminal classics such as “Luck Be A Lady,” “I Put A Spell On You,” “Autumn Leaves,” and many more. The deluxe version of Standards also includes bonus holiday tracks “Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting),” and “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” just in time for the season.

Seal recently captured a live performance of these classic songs for public television’s Front and Center which will air early 2018. Check out a sneak peak of the captivating night with Seal’s performance of “Luck Be A Lady” HERE. Also, be on the lookout for a very special episode of Speakeasy featuring an insightful storytelling conversation between Seal and his longtime friend and manager Amy Thomson, to air on public television early next year.

For Standards, Seal reimagines the classics that shaped his formative years. It was recorded at the legendary Capitol Studios in Hollywood, CA.

The London-born and Los Angeles-based four-time Grammy Award-winning singer emerged back in 1991 when his voice drove Adamski’s 1991 club smash “Killer” followed by his own Top 10 hit “Crazy.” On the heels of his debut album, he went on to win the prestigious BRIT Award for “Best British Male” in 1992, while hits like “Kiss From a Rose,” memorably included on the Batman Forever soundtrack, earned him multiple Grammy awards and global esteem. With worldwide album sales exceeding 30 million, his 2015 studio offering 7 reunited him with longtime collaborator, producer Trevor Horn. It yielded the hit “Every Time I’m With You” and earned widespread critical acclaim.

Beyond the stage and studio, his influence permeates multiple facets of pop culture. Following three popular stints on The Voice: Australia, he returned as a coach for the 2017 season to much fan enthusiasm. 



Luck Be A Lady
Autumn Leaves
I Put A Spell on You
They Can’t Take That Away From Me
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is
Love For Sale
My Funny Valentine
I’ve Got You Under My Skin
I’m Beginning To See The Light (featuring The Puppini Sisters)
It Was A Very Good Year


Luck Be A Lady
Autumn Leaves
I Put A Spell on You
They Can’t Take That Away From Me
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is
Love For Sale
My Funny Valentine
I’ve Got You Under My Skin
I’m Beginning To See The Light (featuring The Puppini Sisters)
It Was A Very Good Year
The Nearness of You
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)

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