New Tracks on Laurel Canyon Radio, January 8, 2018
New Tracks on Laurel Canyon Radio – January 8, 2018
Happy New Year to all our listeners and fans. Changes are a’comin to Laurel Canyon Radio, so watch for some announcements. We’ll be having some new radio shows (Bluegrass Hour premiered yesterday at 4PM PST on our airwaves) and a host of other groovy music-centric shows will begin appearing in your earholes shortly. In the meantime, we had several weeks of dodging “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree” to find some new broadcast-worthy ditties to spring on you come new year and here they are:
- “On And On” – Janiva Magness (with Rusty Young)
Grammy-nominated blues legend Magness gets a somewhat unseen boost from Poco’s Rusty Young in this straight forward rocker that may give the veteran some much deserved mainstream cred. A decidedly un-bluesy number from Magness’ soon to be released 13th album, she serves up a whirlwind of pedal steel and Tedeschi-Trucks-esque singalong choruses yet retains her singular vocal appeal. Magness will be in town at both Don The Beachcombers in Huntington Beach and at McCabes in Santa Monica in February.
They might not yet be considered the Traveling Girlburys’, but the band I’m With Her, the band of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donvan have released their new single “Game To Lose and it is a feat of some folk-roots supergroup out-the-heck-in front vocalizing.
From the bands full-length debut out February 16, preceded by lead single “See Yor ARound was co-produced by Ethan Jons and the band recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Bath England. After years of crossing paths in their intersecting scenes, I”m With Her came togther by happenstance for an off-the-cuff perfromance at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival during the summer of 2014. The multi-Grammy Award winners have individually released nine solo efforts, co-founded two seminal bands (Nickel Creek and Crooked Still) and contributed to critically acclaim albums from a host of esteemed artists. Additionally, I’m With Her’s world tour will kick off later this month and bring the band to major cities across the US including LA (at the Teragram Ballroom on April 2).
- “Heading Home Again” – Ed Dupas
Aptly titled “Tennessee Night” Texas singer-songwriter Ed Dupas seems to have mainstream Nashville in his sights, but the forlorn delivery and early Eagles delivery has us believing that he could easily be corrupted by the lights of LA looking down from Laurel Canyon. Americana singer-songwriter Ed Dupas’ lived-in melodies unwind with reflective lyrics and speak to the current state of the human condition, soothing where possible, agitating where necessary, and seeking change where appropriate.
Crafted from the heart, Ed Dupas’ simple yet soulful music flows from an array of broad social themes to more personal narratives of love and loss. Rooted in both realism and idealism, Ed’s musical goal is deeper inquiry and exploration for himself and his listeners. With comparisons ranging from Steve Earle to Bruce Springsteen, Ed paints a sonic picture of the road less traveled and the world de-familiarized. Ed Dupas creates and shares well worn wide awake music.
- “Hotel Bible” – Zervas and Pepper
Jack Kerouac spent 63 days working as a fire watch, on top of Desolation Peak in the North Cascade Mountains in 1956. Zervas & Pepper spent 28 days in a remote cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado late last year. Kerouac went on to use the material gained from that experience for The Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels. Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper spent the time writing songs for Wilderland, their triumphant new album, and also going for long walks, enjoying the tranquillity of undisturbed absorption in nature and relishing their solitude away from the distractions of mobile phones and the internet.
It’s difficult to write about Zervas & Pepper without mentioning their love of West Coast folk music and close vocal harmonies. They acknowledge a self-professed lifelong love of all things Laurel Canyon: CSNY, Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne. A love that has deepened, especially since David Crosby also expressed his admiration for their music, which lead to him coming to a few gigs, after which, he put Zer Pepps in touch with his son, James Raymond, who not only has produced three of the tracks on Wilderland, but who also provides some delightful piano.
With their style and influences, one could quite easily forget that the duo are from South Wales, a country and area that has a long, proud and inspiring musical tradition. If Phil Ryan was still alive, he would adore this album. Ryan, who for many years played with Welsh legend’s Man, along with Will Youatt, formed an amazing group called The Neutrons, who were passionate about everything that came out of the West Coast. Youatt, with James Davies, then went on to form the awesome Alkatraz, based in Port Talbot – their close harmonies were phenomenal. If this was a topsy-turvy world and it was possible to go back to 1974 and play Wilderland to them on cassette in the van after one of their gigs, whilst they were relaxing in the typical South Wales musician’s way, they would bloody love it!
Armed with a food drop, their instruments, and a copy of the Collected Poems of Dafydd ap Gwilym, Zer Pepps dug down deep into themselves whilst secluded at the cabin, for the rhapsodic delights that ended up as this album; treasures such as Hotel Bible, the transcendent Universe to Find and the oh-so-emotional Mother Earth.
Mother Earth revisits a legend of Native American folk-lore which Kathryn and Paul chose for the title of this album. “It says that when the White Buffalo appears and the Black Snake crosses their land,” explains Kath, “then that is the time the tribes must come together to protect the earth. That Black Snake is believed to be at the centre of the protests at Standing Rock and the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.” For which President Trump signed an executive order back in January, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act, which confirmed construction of the oil pipeline which will slither all the way from Hardisty, Alberta, in Canada down to Port Arthur, in Texas, causing all sorts of ecological damage. Kath’s vocal is seismic; it moves you in ways that could be registered on the Richter scale for amplitude and the cardio-vascular system for its heart-warming deliciousness of melody. So powerful, you might want to go back to the cabin and have a lie-down.
Another big fan of the cabin was Henry David Thoreau, who built his own domicile right next to Walden Pond, on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It wasn’t exactly in the wilderness, it was but a wee walk to the nearby village, but after he completed its construction, pleased with himself, Thoreau wrote that: “There is some of the same fitness in a man’s building his own house that there is in a bird’s building its own nest.” Thoreau wasn’t a qualified chippy, but at times it has to be said that Zer Pepps, sound exactly like dear Karen and Richard Carpenter, who were. If this album gets taken on by Radio 2, Magic and Heart, which it should be, then Mum’s everywhere are going to love Zervas & Pepper! Our Bob is already down with them, big time.
Hotel Bible couldn’t be more like CSNY if it tried. A gorgeous guitar passage at the introduction transports you to the 1970’s, with a divine chorus and ambrosial harmony that soothes and excites in equal quantities. Paul laments that ‘I’m as lonely as a hotel bible’, the constant predicament of the touring musician. Dylan Thomas, another man who knew of the loneliness of the hotel bible, after his first US lecture tour, sought the refuge of his writer’s cabin at his house in Laugharne, where he penned this opening for his radio play Under Milkwood: “It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and- rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.”
There’s nothing shonky on Wilderland, this is an album of quality and distinction. Zer Pepps don’t take you from A to B, they are more igam ogam and follow their own gloriously distinctive creative course, the way one can sometimes perambulate home happily from the pub, after a few amber ales. Change Courses features Kathryn with a heart-rending vocal that perhaps touches the lodestone and energy of Sandy Denny and Who Knows Where the Time Goes which is tremendously moving, with some elegiac piano from James Raymond, supported by Paul’s rapturous harmonies and a pedal steel that provides the final ingredient in this delectable, empyrean feast.
- “California Man” – Curtis Sutton And The Scavengers
“I might live in LA, but I ain’t no California man” goes the first line from Boise based Americana/swamp blues aficionado Curtis Sutton and perhaps he is the traditional outsider who would rather escape the sun getting drunk in a dimly lit bar than participate in the Laurel Canyon culture, but didn’t we meet this fellow in Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do”? Regardless, anyone who casts a side-eye to the shiny artifice that is Los Angeles, while serving up a heaping helping of sweet and gritty roots rock is welcome to park his dirty pickup on this side of Wonderland Avenue anytime. From the album “Whiskey Rain”.