2006 Full-Length CD "Slothful Croonings."
In an old bluesy style akin to Americana, Wheatie references dirty water, old clothes, worn-out threads, hunger, begging, and poverty. The underbelly of the seventeen low-fi tracks portrays the disparity between the rich and poor.
Wheatie writes and sings insightful folk fables. Her verse is reminiscent of Mother Goose because the sad and tortured content of the stories is revealed within the rhymes. Phrasing like in the song "Kuna Kuna" Look sad in upper town / you know all the good spots darling / you know who’s got the heavy pockets / the only place in town you know where guilt is felt real hard. Or when she writes about simple things like..... shall we go to lunch? / Shall we eat our beans...... or Shall we climb up the trees / even if we skin our knees… Poverty limits choices but not imagination and the simplicity of play.
She sings softly, slowly. The sound of her voice is rich and full. Wheatie sings out her lines and lures the listener with her alluring voice and simple guitar picking. She adds welcoming da,da,da and backup vocals to many tracks.
Her fables provoke thoughtful social commentary and present moral dilemmas because she chooses words carefully. The ones with the pale threads will tell tell tell you where they've been / and / don't step foot in the dirty water, don't fall in the dirty water who knows what they all have seen /.... What should I do if the roof cave through / swim like a trout and take off your shoes /........ We often don't see poverty, we turn away, change the channel, ignore and walk by.
I love the song "Down In My Shoes," in which she describes all aspects of dirt and mud / That old dirt is good for washing fears /. "Break the Window" is a haunting five-minute track with provocative repetitive words that is very engaging.
Watching her live she is quiet, slow, and captivating. Her persona is in sharp contrast to our collective hyper-attention span. Quiet and thoughtful, and it is refreshingly different!
“Slothful Croonings” 2006 Full Length:
Included: Beautiful cover art by Artist Molly O’connell and a full sheet of liner notes
Willy Mason is scheduled to release his second full-length album, "If the Ocean Gets Rough," on March 20th, 2007, on Astralwerks.
In November of 2003, at the Knitting Factory, I saw Willy Mason with his brother Sam Mason on drums open for Bright Eyes. He won that audience over, especially me. He casually said at the end of the set, “I have like five CDs in the back if anyone is interested" I think he recorded them before the show. I had to see him again and again. Everything about him captured my attention, his guitar playing, informed writing, and relaxed and authentic manner. He has a gift for melody. I love how he plays the guitar using resonating and alternating bass notes. He adds strumming and picking with interludes of harmonic surprises down the fret. Although he is 21 years old, his voice sounds weathered and worn. While listening to his lyrics, it is evident that he is curious, smart, and well-read. He exposes social and political hypocrisy as he searches for deeper meaning and understanding of life’s daunting conflicts. He weaves a personal subtext within his songwriting while tackling poverty, war, materialism, and hedonism. It is the inference that adds weight and gives the lyrics cerebral edginess. Leaving the listener's brain in overdrive.
I've seen him live eight times in different settings alone, with Nina Violet on viola and an assortment of players working on his freshman CD "Where the Humans Eat." The most recent touring band includes Nina, Sam Mason on drums, Colin Ruel on guitar, and Farley Glavin on bass. They just finished an 18-stop tour opening for Radiohead in May and June 2006. I was lucky to see the band play the Living Room on July 21st, 2006. The set included all new material except for one song. The melodies, time changes, and lyrics were memorable. The band sounded strong and confident. There was something different about Willy. He seemed more determined and serious. This time rather than being discovered, he seemed ready and eager to present his music. Check out his new site called G-ma's Basement It is a home-based online retailer selling local music from the Island of Martha's Vineyard. This includes some of Willy's live sessions with cousin Zak Borden and past releases of Willy and his talented mother, Jemima James. "Equal parts hobo and Holden Caufield, nineteen-year-old Willy Mason blends precocious lyricism, spare, jangly guitar, and a world-weary voice that sounds older than his years." - Rolling Stone
WILL WARM UP THE NEW YEAR! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! From New York to Austin / Hop Along Queen Ansleis /The Smiling Folk Queen, and Wheatie Mattiasich / The Folk-Lore Goddess, are doing a winter tour. Knitting Factory (taproom) Illinois, Deertick, Honne Wells and The Feverfew are on the bill. The Feverfew will be traveling down to Richmond. Then the Folk team stops in Athens, Georgia, the home of the Wildebeest. They then join Fake Problems for a seven-stop tour from Florida to New Orleans. Other bands to play along the way are; Murdock's Revenge, Judy Garland Death Squad, The Ackley's, and The Robinsons. So don't be toast! Get out there and warm the spirit, join the fun and toast the new year listening to fantastic, diverse, and original music!!
Matthew Winn / WILDEBEEST is releasing a Five song EP entitled Some Heavy, Some Mighty. . This is a collection of songs that belong together. They are like a scrambled musical and lyrical puzzle, searching for meaning within the broken fragments of thought. Musically he is branching out and adapting the music to the mood of the songwriting. Evan Louison lends his rich vocals on Wet Dog, Swampy Doors (Golder Lighting), and Palaces. Starting with “How it Is” the title suggests just that, but things aren’t that simple. The only thing rich around here is the coffee / and it ain’t that rich. He has burdens to bare because his / back pack / all heavy. This bluesy alt-country music works well with throaty vocals. The sound gracefully changes. Trumpets and oboe are a welcome addition to an off-beat jazz/blues and eclectic music mix in “Swampy Doors (Golder Lighting).” The mood gets dark, alone, and fearful. / And I am usually standing in dark / lost………… "Wet Dog” employs electric guitar riffs and upbeat drum tempo as Matt and Evan sing / It must be you that's a makin me feel like this wet dog / and belting, / cause it ain't rainin so hard……..“Palaces” is a blues acoustic song with outstanding instrumental and vocal tracks that ring with clarity and bite. Literal phrasing like / children fucking on a bare mattress is juxtaposed with a personification of architectural reference ……/ duel palaces entwined / drawbridge layed down / dual palaces embrace /stone and holy walls. He ends with an introspective song, “Host and Hostage. “ The trumpets chime in like a soft echoing choir, the finger-picking guitar parts blend, and the bassoon blows like a fog horn. The song ends with very faint bells………… To Order, Send $5.00 to Matt Winn, 140 standard oils street Athens Georgia, 30601 A few months back, Matt completed a full-length recording of 12 songs that he edited to ten. The full-length is still in transition, and the recording will be revisited.
Damien Derose, Peasant: I Feel "The Wind," Peasant’s new 7 " Vinyl 4 track release. The Wind is graceful, ethereal, and stunning. Each exceptional track employs a continuous gentle guitar strum, and dreamy synthesizers woven with folksy beats of snapping, clapping, shakers and drums. A voice that echoes adorns the instruments, blending harmonic tenor in three parts. The sound is distant and lingering....I feel it .. and I felt it….. Afternoon show CMJ Fanatic Acoustic at Mo Pitkens November 3rd, 2006, 2:15
My music obsessions have been annoying and confusing to my family, friends, and co-workers. Many think my behavior can be easily explained or discounted as a mid-life crisis. How could such a negative suggestion describe something that gives me so much pleasure? I’ve heard comments like; "act your age," "pay attention to what’s important," "you can’t do that!"," you can’t go there!", "that's not appropriate." On and on and on and on.... I tune it out and try not to hear. But..................... Sometimes in life, you need affirmation. I received that the other day while listening to an interview on NPR’s show All Things Considered.
Chandler Burr an author and columnist for the New York Times, was interviewed. He wrote a book about Luca Turin a scientist whose obsession with perfume lead him on a quest to collect perfume from around the world. This insatiable passion guided him to develop a scientific theory about how humans can smell (olfactory processing). The Nobel Prize might be awarded to this passionate scientist in the future. The book is called The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Obsession, Perfume, and the Last Mystery of the Senses. This was a fascinating and entertaining interview, that you can hear on NPR (archives).
Well, I won’t be winning the Nobel Prize, but I did start this little site, and people are finding it. One of my first goals was to get people to the site through Google search. The 300-plus people who have found me so far are not related to me. However, they have an interest in music or the musicians I write about. I will conclude by saying, HANG IN THERE.
David Dondero, the road-wise touring veteran, writes songs about his travels touring and the in-between stops. Dondero has supported his life in music, taking on jobs in towns and cities across America. His life is broader than that of a musician who might experience life in a touring bubble. His lifestyle has come with personal sacrifice, but has guided his voice and is reflected in his outstanding songwriting. It is what makes him stand out from so many other songwriters. The cataloging of experiences that few have had and few can tell so sincerely.
He is not fearful of taking on topical subjects like guns, religion and politics, and sex. He pens his material like journal entries. Thoughtfully and cleverly flavored with a little tongue-in-cheek tone. Like /I was just a tender chicken in the Florida rotisserie - my own sweats basting me...... or / some decisions are incisions - much too late to make revisions - sorry is just a suture...... and his description of his tour van built-in 1973- fossilized technology... his lonesome longings /liquor - come take her place - miss her- make it erase........One of my favorites is his reference to being a convenience store connoisseur, describing the Zagats of highway travel.
Listening to his songs, I visualize all the colorful people and places. I am in the song as a spectator, mesmerized by his insightful phrasing, offbeat escapades, and vivid descriptions. The music is in the folk rock tradition but mixed with bluegrass. It is edgy, making them original sounding and not generic. Just when you think you get it, he'll change the timing with an electric guitar part that's atypical of that style, and it works. He sometimes incorporates banjo, mandolin, drums, and horns. The fingerpicking, hammered guitar strings, and quivering voice is always present in his songs.
I have seen Dondero live four times, twice alone and twice with his talented touring drummer Craig D. I always love seeing him play. It was great to see him energized by an enthusiastic crowd at CMJ Team Love night 2005. He took out his camera to take a picture of the gorgeous audience to send to his mother. He is very endearing. The show was an energetic, high-tapping-clapping-stomping show. In an acoustic show at the Knitting Factory tap room in August 2006, a quieter but very determined singer emerged. His guitar broke toward the end of the set. He borrowed a very small guitar from the previous singer. Seeing his 6'2" frame in a small chair overpowering this tiny guitar was a sight. Then he sang the most poignant song called the Rothko Chapel singing/ my religion is in nature, art and literature - my religion is in science, music, and poetry.......
He is presently featuring this demo on his myspace site. I was thrilled that an NPR host Robin Hilton listed him as one of the 10 best living songwriters. Although I don't generally like lists, I was pleased Dondero received this recognition. One very well-written review of Dondero's 2003 release, The Transient, by the writer Gary Glander for Pop Matters, captures the essence of Dondero, the songwriter. I own his full collection and didn't want to use this post to review a specific CD. They all have been a personal obsession, and I cherish all of them. I am looking forward to his next effort. The demos that he has been featuring on his myspace site have teeth, and they bite. The lyrics attack in the political song You Got Love In You. He employs strong and powerful words that remind me of the spirit of early Folk when words could make a difference. Check out his Fall tour Dates Discography The Pity Party, 1999 Spider West Myshkin a City Bus 2000 Shooting at the Sun with a Water Gun 2001, The Transient 2003, Live at the Hemlock 2004 South of the South 2005
Freedom to Hear, Find, Share, and Love Music. Great music is being heard. It is thrilling to see the change in how music lovers hear, find, and share music. Musicians now have the opportunity to create careers on their own or with the help of a caring independent label. The tides are changing. There are people all over the world starting sites like this one. Spreading the word about the music they love. Recently I befriended someone with a Myspace site that strongly states, "Let's Make Folk a Threat Again." He is a young man passionate about changing the world through music. On his site, he hosts bands and singer-songwriters doing just that. He presents their uTube live performances for all who find his site to hear and investigate. These great musicians are playing among us on street corners, in basements, garages, and small venues. They are being heard by a few but have the potential to be heard by many! Music fans and bloggers are curating their personal music aesthetic. They are creating their own small communities of like-minded listeners. Myspace, YouTube, Last., FM and podcasts are vehicles to help bring the music forward and expand the audience. Many public radio sites and stations offer some new music but are gearing their music selection to an older demographic. Their playlists get very similar and end up being mediocre. They are trying to please but are not challenging their audience. They often play music that has an audience, not music that needs to find one. I miss the truly informed host. I want to hear the history behind the music and find out what was just played. That is why I'm not a big fan of Satellite radio. In 2004 Willy Mason was discovered by Conor Oberst. He opened a few shows for Bright Eyes and was very well received. Shortly after those shows, he played SXSW to an audience of four. The audience turned out to be scouts for Zane Lowe Radio1 on the BBC. Their job that night was to find the best band at SXSW. They loved Willy Mason and asked him to sing on the air. The song was played and requested for months. At that point, his first self-released EP was available. Eventually, he recorded his full length and, by the end of 2005, had sold 100,000 CDs in the UK. Unfortunately, this would never happen here in the States. The corporatization of radio and the rise of the monopoly of the Clear Channel would change radio and music discovery in this country forever. When I was a teenager in the mid to late sixties, radio reached a broader community.
Along with hearing bubblegum pop, you would also hear Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, and Hendrix in the same half-hour airtime. Everybody heard the same music, and great music had a chance to evolve and change the culture. Today we are a boutique culture. This feels comforting but creates a separation of communities rather than a shared experience. Even though myspace is owned by Rupert Murdock and is weighed down with advertising and over-customized sites, it is still free and accessible. I can find inspiring music on myspace. It does take time and a discerning ear, but it is there. It has aided bands like Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah to sell large quantities of CDs by indie standards and fill venues without radio play. Their success is a hopeful sign for other music artists to model. I am trying to find out about new vehicles that foster music discovery. I am hoping to start a dialogue with this community of music lovers. Maybe you have some suggestions and answers to questions that would be helpful to other musicians and music fans. Are there radio and Internet radio sites that are innovative and worthwhile? Are there sites that should be avoided? Is CD Baby a good way for independents to sell CDs? In what way do you think all of this will evolve? What's on the horizon that most people are not aware of? Are you willing to share? Together we can make a difference. Freedom to hear, find, share, and love music!! Please comment and help move the culture forward.
LANGHORNE SLIM ["PRINCE" OF FOLK] Langhorne Slim delivers live. I Saw them at Rothko's in January, with a packed house. The group worked the crowd into a frenzy with just an acoustic guitar, stand-up bass, and drums. This group has heart, passion, and a love of performance that is refreshing and uplifting. I was watching the show with a drummer from a legendary hardcore punk band. At the close of the show he shook Langhorne's hand and said "after seeing this show I will follow you anywhere, man you're awesome." Their sound is a mixture of folk, hillbilly, scat, bluegrass with the sensibility of punk, especially with the strong percussion team of Paul Defiglia on bass and Malachi DeLorenzo on drums. Mr. Slim's high quivering voice can get very raw, bluesy, gritty, nasty, naughty at times and downright sweet, singing a love song with just a guitar. The other players sing and shout along as momemtum builds. Energy radiates from these three players and a kinetic force is created leaving the audience exhilarated. Langhorne has physical aspects to his playing that are very charismatic. His head turns from side to side while he pauses and stares to emphasize a word or phrase. He sways high and low with his guitar as he stomps and glides across the stage. Kind of like the artist "Prince" but folk style. There are so many mannerisms that are charming, quirky and great to observe. The other members ham it up as well. The banter during and in-between vocals is not to be missed and is never the same. It is guided by audience feedback, creating an interactive set. Langhorne Slim's full length CD When The Sun Goes Down (2005) lovingly unites the rousing songs with the beautiful love ballads. It is deserving of all the accolades it has received. The band has toured relentlessly in the last two years, featuring new material. They are in the process of recording a new LP. They have two shows in late August and two in September supporting the Violent Femmes, in New Jersey and Baltimore. For their fall tour they will support the Two Gallants , tour dates are listed on their myspace site. I hope you get a chance to experience this amazing group! When The Sun Goes Down LP 2005 Electric Love EP 2004
HONNE WELLS gave a performance with the stature of a veteran at Bar 169 in the Lower East Side. As Honne Wells sat down on a low stool, he slowly took off his shoe, placing his foot through a small tambourine. The mic stand was set low. Standing at six foot two inches in a grey suit and wide tie, he slowly began to stomp his foot, placing his hands behind his back. He bent over at a forty-degree angle to sing into the mic. His voice is low at the extreme, guttural and startling. The sound resonated, the air thickened with anticipation, and the time period altered to the early beginnings of Blues. Mr. Wells sat down with his guitar tuned to an irregular E. His glass slide tools are laid out in a row. Each is used and carefully chosen to vary the intonation of the rugged sliding bass notes. His fingerpicking moved the higher strings to a constant flutter. Five songs in, he added whistling to his repertoire. Ending the set with a great cover of Good Night Irene by Lead Better. Standing again, he sang and paused carefully between verses, leaving his audience speechless. Honne Wells blends earnest songwriting and conceptual affect with stunning music. Although he is a young man, his level of performance acumen is that of a veteran. Self-released What the Lead Said 2005 Honnephone Self-released Mother Pie 2006 Honnephone "The sound you hear are the harmonics of sorrow, people have called it folk, blues, gospel; but all it is to me is war." Honne Wells
Photo credit: Joshua Eric Schwartz