Most people, when they think of a state that produces a lot of popular musicians, would mention states like New York or California. It’s time to rethink that. I am going to throw Michigan in the mix. Let’s not forget, Motown was started in Detroit and most of the early stars were from Michigan. Motown aside, the musical influencers from Michigan are all over the place. Of course there are The Stooges and the MC5, but let’s not forget one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Bill Kirchen. And, Bill went to the same high school as Iggy Pop (James Osterberg) and Bob Seger. So Michigan is pretty dense with game changing bands and musicians. It just so happens that Jeremy Porter And The Tucos are from none other than Detroit, Michigan. And they definitely learned a lot from those that came before them. Once in a while, you can hear a Stooges riff or a little bit of Iggy styling, and I love that. There are enough differences in the music that the similarities stand out more.
A Fish of Earth defies the conventions of today’s music by forgoing traditional genres and embracing the contemplative, even meditative, art of storytelling. Emily Brown, a California-based singer-songwriter, exhibits undeniable talent in her poetic and conversational lyrics that depict realities of womanhood, faith, and individualism. Definitely the most unique album I have listened to, A Fish of Earth opens the gate to a new reality of music that is offbeat and fearless!
From the Arden Studio Benefit Presented by In.Live on January 24, 2020. Pictured Clockwise: Audley Freed, Jody Stephens, Sadler Vaden, and Tom Peterson.
Twangrila: So welcome, David.
David Simon: Thank you.
TL: Can you please explain what In.Live (pronounced In Dot Live) is and what it does?
DS: Sure. In.Live is an integrated ticketing and live streaming platform that allows anybody to create a live stream and sell access to it. And we have developed it in such a way that it really meets the needs of both independent artists and individuals, but also larger artists that are managed. Also, we can work in larger venues, with larger teams as they create their productions. And so the platform itself is designed to meet all of those needs.
TL: So it’s very scalable is what you’re telling me.
This was more like a conversation than an interview. As you will see from the dialogue, the communication was great and the topics sort of developed organically. Jody discusses the benefit that was on January 24, 2021 for St. Jude’s Hospital and Church Health. This event was put on by In.Live at their own expense. Both charities have far reaching footprints, but they are both domiciled in Memphis, Tennessee where Jody is a life long resident. He really embodies the slogan, “Think globally, act locally”. Jody also discusses his new band, Those Pretty Wrongs, his former band, Big Star, and his work at Ardent Studios since 1987. He even threw out the possibility of a 50th anniversary event for #1 Record. Fingers crossed!
For many, 2021 will be spent making up for lost time in an overwhelmingly unproductive 2020. For Matt Cox, however, 2021 will be spent celebrating his recently released album, Bandits, and maybe even performing his new songs at outdoor concerts! Cox, a seasoned musician from Omaha, NE, made use of his quarantine by writing and recording this remarkable country-folk album.
Albums rarely leave me speechless, but this one truly did. Pony Bradshaw’s newest release, Calico Jim, integrates elements of blues, country, and rock music to produce a beautiful Americana album. Every song tells a unique story that, though wildly different, is strung together to create themes of nature, spirituality, and humanity. Bradshaw’s voice – at times soothing and at others booming – is perfectly country.
Sometimes I dream that one day I’ll wake up and suddenly realize my ability to sing. Sadly for me, my voice is limited to the walls of my car and my shower. For Pony Bradshaw, however, this dream became a reality. Growing up, although he listened to music, he never created it. It wasn’t until he was sitting at an open mic night in his thirties when he discovered his musical abilities. Since then, Bradshaw has produced music that suggests he’s been playing all his life!
This absolutely floored me. No, it isn’t country music. It’s jazz. And it is some of the best jazz I have ever heard. This is why doing deep searches in Bandcamp pays off. Sometimes, you just get sand, but on this day, I found a flawless diamond. Her name is Muriel Grossman and she plays the saxophone as if it is a part of her. And it most certainly is. She is also the leader of the band. After three minutes of listening to Quiet Earth I knew this was something special. It isn’t your standard five piece jazz ensemble either. There is electric guitar and Hammond organ in addition to the drums and bass. The shortest song is eight minutes and the longest is 11:30, but the time goes fast. It is such an easy listen.
The more I hear Charley singing, the more I absolutely love him. He is the perfect example of someone who is at the top of their craft. Not only does he have enormous talent and charisma, he also is perhaps the hardest working man in show business, now that James Brown is gone. Charley keeps his head down and accomplishes his goals. A good comparison to Charley is Peyton Manning. Another person with enormous talent with an incredible work ethic. This work ethic is apparent in Charley’s recordings. You can hear his perfection and demand for high quality. Welcome To Hard Times is a magical collection of tunes that are modern but could have been released 70 years ago and fit right in.
Chicago Farmer’s Flyover Country has a classic, honky tonk sound that shares relatable stories geared towards our nation’s working class. The album reminds me of the phrase work hard, play hard – so many of the lyrics share stories of folks spending days working and nights letting loose. At first listen, it’s a folk-filled, southern album that will undoubtedly spark a singalong. But each time I listen, I dig up more pockets of cleverness that further convince me of Chicago Farmer’s (AKA Cody Diekhoff) lyrical and poetic ingenuity!
Let’s start with the fun stuff – there is no shortage of creativity and humor in these songs. The album begins with Indiana Line, a twangy narrative about a guy whose road-tripping from Illinois to Indiana to pay off his debts. Diekhoff leads the song on vocals and acoustic, while harmonicas, keys, bass, and drums swing alongside Diekhoff’s confident voice. As the song continues, the character’s swagger diminishes along with the likelihood of him paying off his debts. By the end of the song, he’s being chased by flashing lights, suggesting he won’t reach his destination. A true singalong song, Indiana Line is a great start to the album.
Did you ever hear the story about the country music star that did it his way without any major label support and has a following as large and as fervent as any performer out there now? Of course you have. I am talking about Cody Jinks who single handedly built a musical dynasty by doing it himself. It really is an astounding story. I would love to spend more time and really analyze how he was able to accomplish this feat and play Red Rocks as the pinnacle of his success. This is a big deal. Indie guys, regardless of the genre, don’t play Red Rocks. This is sacred ground for bands like The Grateful Dead, U2, Phish, etc. That is until last year.