Brooklyn folk singer Natalie Mering, alias Weyes Blood, returns October 21 with a new album for Mexican Summer titled The Innocents. Listen to her new song, “Some Winters,” below.
Back in March, Quilt headed down to the desert town of Marfa, Texas to perform at Mexican Summer’s inaugural festival gathering. While in town, the Bostonian quartet made their way over to a small recording studio located near the nearby Chinati Arts Foundation. It was here that Quilt performed an extended four-song suite depicting their more exploratory live persona. Tune in and stick around for the 26 minute “Milo” that closes out the tape.
Anna Mayberry put out one of our favorite releases of 2013 with a self-titled EP under her solo moniker Anamai. Ahead of her short run of tour dates kicking off tomorrow night in Ottawa, Anna has shared with us the wintery video for our favourite track on the EP, “Altar Coals.” Be sure to catch Anamai if she’s playing in your locale, and if you haven’t already, pick up the EP from Buzz Records.
As fall looms just around the corner, we’re graced with a new offering from guitar virtuoso Steve Gunn that serves as a most fitting soundtrack for the change in season. After stepping out into the open with last year’s Time Off, Gunn took little time establishing himself as the premiere artist in the John Fahey inspired, post-Jack Rose realm of fingerpicked, raga-meets-American folk (something many of us already knew). With Way Out Weather, he takes an even grander step forward both in terms of arrangement and improvisation, as well as the roster of musicians he has aboard. The result is a more expansive, lush, full-band sound that, quite often, resembles the noodley ambling of the Grateful Dead as guitar lines and various stringed instruments weave through one another in an intertwining web of cosmic folk. Check out the video for the title track below.
Way Out Weather comes out October 7th on Paradise of Bachelors.
Also, for those who missed it, be sure to check out Steve Gunn’s collaborative album with British folk artist Mike Cooper, Cantos de Lisboa.
Ryley Walker put out one of the best releases of the year so far, folk or otherwise, with his “All Kinds of You” this past April. Coming out on the typically reissue-oriented Tompkins Square Records, it was obvious that his work was exceptional enough to pique their interest, and can sit among their many folk oriented reissues. Sounding like a product of his influences, his debut sways between the fingerpicking abilities of Michael Chapman’s “Fully Qualified Survivor”, the British Folk tendencies of Bert Jansch’s “Birthday Blues”, and the freewheeling live jazz-band dynamic of Tim Buckley’s “Lorca” in a way that is all his own. Throw Ryley’s world weary singing voice into the mix, and you have a very dynamic and creative album that is both of it’s time and out of it’s time. The man has done his homework.
Ryley will be appearing at the NXNE Death Hymn No. 9 Showcase on June 19 at The Smiling Buddha (961 College Street). Doors at 7:30 PM.
∆ Words by Dave Sampson
A wise friend once hipped me onto the sounds of New Jersey hippy folk band Widsith and their back roads 1972 LP Maker of Song. It’s been a sunny day favorite ever since. A glance at the cover art shows a photo depicting two, very similar looking, long-haired mustached dudes leaning up against a dusty old barn with nothing else but a set of barrel staves and some mangy grass poking up from the bottom of the shot. While they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, records certainly aren’t books. Here, the music you find within sounds like the cover looks. It’s like the photo was taken moments after they emerged from recording in that very barn. Mics crackle like they’re caked with an inch of dust; fluttery, telecasted guitar lines dance around each other Blind Faith style; tales of the road are sung out in a Dino Valenti-kinda-Van Morrison style drawl. Every song is a gem here, friends.
Long thought to be a lost treasure of the private press world, a few years back Alithia records shed a bit of light on the mystery LP with a lovely reissued version. I haven’t seen it around many places, but it’s out there. Seek one out for yourself.
This Toronto-by-way-of-Philadelphia folk singer-songwriter cut a solitary album for GRT in 1970, with Lenny Breau on guitar accompaniment. It’s always great to find something Toronto-based that can compete with anything released during this period, and this is no exception. Think Linda Perhacs meets Richie Havens and Blue Afternoon-era Tim Buckley on a Sunday morning. If you find a copy of this on vinyl anywhere, please let us know!
△ Words by Dave Sampson
Dino Valente (né Chet Powers) is one of those enigmatic types in the footnotes of every third MOJO article dealing with the 60s, and it is plain that he had his fingers in a lot of pies both literally, and figuratively. However, to paraphrase Wayne Kramer’s description of Johnny Thunders in Legs McNeil’s “Please Kill Me,” he “…seemed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” He wrote “Get Together,” popularized by The Youngbloods and played in every 60s TV/movie flashback scene, but he didn’t make a dime off of it because he sold the rights off to the Kingston Trio’s managers to beat a drug rap; he also had a hand in writing “Hey Joe,” somehow. He was going to be the focal point of Quicksilver Messenger Service, but he went to prison instead. He managed to piss off the CBS brass after signing a lucrative contract by phoning them repeatedly at 4 A.M. and telling them that they didn’t get where he was at.
The main show here, however, is not the man’s life story, but his solo release. His nasal voice, hippie dream poeticisms, and backing jazz instrumentation seems to drop in and out at will. Think Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks meets Tim Buckley’s Happy/Sad with the overtones of a Haight-Asbury hippie dude trying to put the make on a girl, and you’re getting close. Fred Neil is another obvious influence in terms of his 12-string and jazz inflected chording, and it’s no surprise that the both used to play together in Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 60s. Nevertheless, it’s a rewarding listen, especially in the context of the loner folk and DIY-ethic that predominates popular reissues from such labels as Numero Group, whose Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes compilation serves as another touchstone.
We’re up here in the north country. Three deer just ran across the frozen lake. Robbie Basho is playing on the stereo. Coffee and tea are brewing. Heading out to this place shortly.
For fans of American fingerpicking masters like Fahey and Kottke, you can delve further into Basho’s eastern-tinged melodies and old-time-y vocals with this excellent essay ‘Guitarist of the Other Shore: Robbie Basho in the 1960s’. It’s a very worthwhile read.
Another deer just ran across the lake. Let’s hope the wolves are still sleeping.
Anna Fox Ronchinski of Boston psych-folk band Quilt was kind enough to put together this Winter-themed mix for us. Quilt are releasing their excellent new album Held in Splendor next week on Mexican Summer and will be hitting the road in support shortly thereafter. Head to Mexican Summer to pre-order Held in Splendor and check out the full list of tour dates after the jump.