Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Man o man. From the first note an onward, this album cooks like Wolfgang Puck. This is not my first go-round with the “Girls” (which also consists of two fellas). Their fist self-titled release was one of my favorites of that year and frankly it is still one of my go to’s. So, as a reviewer, I need to forget the first album and judge Dirty Power by its own merits. What I discovered by doing that is that this album is even better than the first. And that means something, considering how much I revere the first one. I can hear the recording evolution and the maturity in the playing and songwriting.  
Barbara Endes, who plays guitar has really developed into one fine master of the axe. When I reviewed  the first album, I coined the term “twangle pop” as the genre for this music. I think that moniker still applies as I hear a melding of late 80s/early 90s noise pop and some good country tinged rock and roll.  All throughout the album, the harmonies are heavenly and really help to balance out some of the noisier elements. But what always comes through is Barb’s signature sound. 
The most compelling song on the album for me is Two Places At Once (Track 5). It’s four minutes and change and the first three minutes are all instruments. I though this song was going to be a guitar laden instrumental ala Dick Dale, but then we get a surprise. Barb starts singing about being in two places at once. Brilliant and unconventional. The Girls are really pushing the envelope and changing the definition of pop music for the better. 
No great album would be complete without a protest song. And the Girls deliver with Commander In Thief (Track 10). I don’t think I need to go into too much explanation about the song meaning. The clever title pretty much sums it up. This track has some exceptional writing, harmonies and great guitar work. This should be played repeatedly at every college radio station throughout America. 
The album starts off with one of the most inspiring and “twangry” guitar solos ever. Down At the Bottom (Track 1) seems to have more than one meaning. A double entendre, if you will. Another example of Barb’s songwriting prowess. “Come hang with me down and the bottom. Come play with me where the sun don’t shine.” Sounds romantic and a little dangerous. I like danger and this song has plenty of it. You know the old saying, “The greater the risk, the greater the reward”. Let’s all take some calculated risks. This song inspires me to do so. 
I want to take a minute to mention all of the players on Dirty Power since there is plenty of great sounds that need to be praised. As I already mentioned Barbara Endes is on lead vocal duty and electric guitar. On bass is Dave Mandl. The other part of the rhythm section is occupied by Nancy Polstein, playing drums and providing backing vocals. David Michael Weiss also plays electric guitar and sings. Other musicians that contributed were Eric Ambel on the Wurlitzer piano and Graham Norwood who provided vocals on Got To Laugh To Keep From Cryin’. 
This album has all the elements of greatness: strong writing, impassioned singing. loud and energetic instruments, and a strong sense of experimentation. Do I really need to say, “Go out and buy this album?” I hope the review speaks for itself. 
Listen and buy Dirty Power 

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
What a pure and honest voice! There are some strong Dylan and Prine elements but the music on Caught It From The Rye is 100% original. I think Tre’s contributions to Americana music and folk is exactly what we need right now. There aren’t enough troubadours anymore. Those men and women that believe that music is their calling and they will do anything to spread their art, irrespective of money. 
Tre Burt is a Sacramento native and states that John Prine is one of his three all time favorites. Based on listening to this entire album, I don’t think I am stepping out of line by assuming that Dylan is probably on that list as well. Most of the album is just Tre and the acoustic guitar with what I would call light instrument accompaniment. Tre and the acoustic are definitely the heroes here and the album prominently displays that fact. There is a very, very big sound that Tre has created and it is glorious. 
Where to start? All of the nine songs on this release are worthy of praise and some ink. One song for me rises to the top and that song is Get It By Now Blues (Track 8). What an absolute masterpiece that carries the torch from Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seger, Dylan, and Prine. This song shows its beauty starting at the first note. This is a song of heartbreak that is so good, it will be around for a long time. The powerful writing and a voice that speaks to us directly is something that music has been missing for a while now. Hopefully Tre can fill that void. 
Franklin’s Tunnel (Track 4) is the only song on this collection that features another voice. Jules Bee (Sea Of Bees) provides vocals on this track and it is amazing how well her voice melds with Tre’s. It truly is something magical. Two voices completely intertwined to create a third voice. That’s called synergy. There is no shortage of it on Franklin’s Tunnel. 
Another astounding number is the title track, Caught It From The Rye (Track 2). Tre’s voice pulls off this number because of his vocal strength and ability to switch between notes flawlessly. According to Tre, the song is about the cycle of life from birth to death. This song was not written in the traditional sense but came to Tre during a visit to the forest in southern Washington state. He states after the first line, the rest of the song was created in a state of subconsciousness, similar to a hypnotic state. 
The album is a bit short, only 27 minutes. But, there is no filler here. This is all substance with no artificial additives or by-products. Listening to Caught It From The Rye may be the fastest half an hour you ever spent. If you are anything like me, you are grateful for the rewind button. 
Listen and buy Caught It From The Rye

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Wowsers!!!! This is simply gorgeous. Completely reminiscent of a young Dolly Parton with the strong voice and the song writing chops of a seasoned veteran. I have to keep reminding myself that EmiSunshine is a mere 15 years old. Age is usually an unimportant number when it comes to writing a review, but in this case it is different. I cannot even imagine having the maturity and mindset, let alone creativity, to write such strong, memorable songs at 15 years of age. That in itself is astounding. 
What else is astounding is that that EmiSunshine’s band is a family affair. Emi’s dad, Randall Hamilton, is the bass player, playing upright bass, electric bass, and provides pitch perfect backing vocals. Brother John Hamilton plays acoustic guitar, mandolin, and also lends a hand on the backing vocals. Then you have Uncle Bobby Hill hitting the skins and keeping the time on drums. All that familial knowledge just adds chemistry to the mix and raises this album up a couple of steps on the ladder.
This is about as country as it gets. And Emi is putting her stamp on country music. Her version has some dark overtones and even a bit of a Gothic feel on some of the tracks. Jonas Black (Track 6) has some really nice picking and fiddles, but what really makes this song special is Emi. That voice can hit notes that we weren’t even sure existed. Take a good listen to the last 30 seconds of this and marvel at the amazing vocal range. 
Another track that I truly adore is The Ghost Of Hank Williams (Track 9), which also has some “Goth” in it. This track features Emi doing a yodel that is out of this world. The lyrics prove this young lady did her homework. At one point in the song, Emi mentions an incident about “kicking out all the stage lights” and that is completely awesome. It was Johnny Cash who kicked out those stage lights at the Opry. Both Cash and Williams were banned from the Opry. Hank never returned due to his untimely death. Johnny was able to return and even hosted his TV show from The Ryman.
The album commences with a pretty straight forward country song, Family Wars (Track 1). “Sister’s out here living in sin, Grandma’s on the dope again, and no one speaks to Daddy anymore.” How’s that for a powerful opening? I think Emi may really be a 40 year old pretending to be a teenager. These lyrics are definitely well beyond her chronological years. As I said, the young lady knows a thing or two about writing a country song. There is no sugar coating it. This is your family!
“Family Wars” is one fine album. This will definitely make EmiSunshine a household name. Not that she needs any help. She has 16 Opry appearances under her belt already and she isn’t even 18 yet!I digress. “Family Wars” is a must have and a good stocking stuffer. 
Listen to Family Wars
Buy Family Wars

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I just got this in the mail today and immediately popped the CD into the player. I was taken by the beautiful sound quality of the CD. For a live album, the sound is brilliant and expertly mixed. That may not seem like much, but if those two things aren’t right, it can completely ruin a listening experience. And when I finally focused on the music, I was immediately transfixed and transported right to Tipitina’s in NOLA, where this was recorded. “Asteur” is crackling with energy from the first note to the last. The crowd noise adds to the frenzy. 


Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This was Sarah Shook & The Disarmers first time playing in Baltimore and they picked up a whole lot more fans after their fantastic opening set. I could hear the applause get louder and more enthusiastic after each song. I also heard many people in the audience state, “Wow! She is good!” Yes she is. And so is the the entire band. All of the band mates are incredible musicians. (more…)

Review by Harry Kaplan
This is my first review of a comedian. I realize this doesn’t fall in the format of country music, or music of any kind. I am compelled to write a review for a couple of reasons: 1) Lewis Black is hysterical and it was a wonderful evening. 2) This was a benefit for two worthy charities, Pathfinders for Autism and The Maryland Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I don’t want to lose focus of what the purpose of this great event was, to raise awareness and resources for two very important causes. More about the sponsors a little later….


Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Soulful, funky and totally groovy. Yes, I said groovy. That’s because this album grooves and rocks. All of the songs have this very understated vibe with comforting sounds. Either it’s the funky back beat, the totally sublime spacey guitar fills, or the heavenly Wurly-esque organ fills, all of these elements compliment Bonnie’s voice like a hand in a tight fitting glove.


Complicated Life – The Kinks
Dead Flowers – The Rolling Stones
Squeeze Box – The Who
Tulsa Time – Eric Clapton
Song For Bob Dylan – David Bowie
It’s Over – Badfinger
Free Again – Alex Chilton
Brokedown Palace – The Grateful Dead
Ramblin’ Man – The Allman Brothers Band
Little Ole Country Boy – Parliament
Your Cheatin’ Heart – James Brown
I Can’t Be Counted On – The Meat Puppets
Hold My Life – The Replacements
Weary Blues From Waitin’ – The Godz
Promised Land – Chuck Berry

TwangriLa Podcast Number 2: Did Jew Know?
Ride ‘Em Jewboy – Kinky Friedman
Get To Leave – Giant Sand
The 3 Deaths Of Lucky – Howe Gelb
Right Now – Emmylou Harris/Mark Knopfler
Little Bitty Town – Bad Livers
You And Me Instead – Asleep At The Wheel
Jumpin’ At The Woodside – Asleep At The Wheel
Demon In Disguise – David Bromberg
Act Nice And Gentle – The Black Keys
Romance In Durango – Bob Dylan
The Streets Of Baltimore – Tompall & The Glaser Brothers
Pretty Boy Floyd – Country Joe McDonald
Tennessee Stud – Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
I’m Glad I’m Jewish – Mike Bloomfield

TwangriLa Podcast Number 3: Every Day I Got The Booze – The Whiskey Edition

Whiskey Bottle – Uncle Tupleo
Whiskey Bottle – The Golden Boys
Whiskey On My Mind – The Von Ehrics
Whiskey River – Willie Nelson
Women Without Whiskey – Drive By Truckers
Poison Whiskey – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Beer, Whiskey & Diamond Rings – Texas Heat
Let the Whiskey Take The Reins – Old 97s
Whiskey Glass Eye – Slobberbone
Whiskey Down The Drain – Jeff Dahl Group
Waltz About Whiskey – Mandolin Orange
Whiskey Jar – Wrinkle Neck Mules
Me And The Whiskey – Whitey Morgan & The 78s
Tennessee Whiskey – George Jones