I've been listening to Rodney Crowell's new album Texas and enjoying his collaborations with a slew of great artists including Ringo, Willie Nelson, Billy Gibbons, Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, and Lee Ann Womack. Here is a review from the Americana Music Show.
One of the goals this year with my blog is to present whole albums from the past and present.
Great albums much like great novels are a musical narrative that must be experienced whole.
Songs brought together in an album often write their own little chapters that bring together an emotional and cerebral experience. Collective songs on an album have the power to alter your state of mind, rise you up, take you on a journey, or just make you smile and shake your head to the rhythm.
Tommy Emmanuel is one such musician who is revered by many around the world. You can look at his discography and realize that he has made an album almost every 2-3 years since 1979. When you accomplish something like that, you realize he is making these albums for his joy, and the joy that it will bring others. "One of six children, Emmanuel was born in Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia, in 1955. He received his first guitar in 1959 at age four and was taught by his mother to accompany her playing lap steel guitar. At the age of six in 1961, he heard Chet Atkins playing on the radio. He vividly remembers that moment and said it greatly inspired him." Wikipedia
Growing up, Tommy's family formed a band, sold their house and went on the road to perform when he was seven years old. Over the years he played in numerous bands traveling the world. His fame developed over the years as a highly coveted 'session player' recording on many musicians albums, not to mention his fun and relaxed personality made him friends and fans everywhere he went.
Tommy's gift as an acoustic guitar player begins with his hero, Chet Atkin's and following Chet's Travis picking style. Tommy as an Australian, is pure Americana in that his passion is to mix- jazz, blues, bluegrass, country, folk, rock and world beat rhythms into a musical deep dive accompanied by his famous finger picking. Tommy often beats his guitar with his right hand while laying down a percussion line with his left thumb on the top bass strings, while the remaining left fingers blend in a melody. When you watch this you realize his right fingers are literally dancing on the strings and he becomes, a one man band. Tommy does around 300 concerts a year all over the world. His heart and soul is the definition of troubadour.
If Tommy is anything, he is a collaborator. He loves to play with other musicians and boy do they love to play with him. In late 2018, I discovered Accomplice One (you can buy it here on Amazon), released in January, 2018. So I'm about a year late to the Tommy E. party, that on this album includes- Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Ricky Skaggs, Jorma Kaukonen, David Grisman, Mark Knopfler, Jake Shimabukuro, and Rodney Crowell to name just 'the names.'
This album is a real collective treat that tells a story based on your imagination. All the songs from Accomplice One are on the playlist this week, and please make time to watch Tommy's TED Talk at the end. Tommy's a classical gas!
As a footnote- I see Tommy has just released a new album called Heart Songs with John Knowles on January, 11th. And, in the story of my concert life have just discovered he played in San Diego at the Balboa Theatre on January 12th. I can't believe I missed this opportunity, my verbal language is quite colorful at the moment!
I'm currently up in Edmonds, Washington visiting family and spending a couple of days with my ol' bud Bill DeVoe in Seattle before he takes off for a trip to Mexico with his wife, Marie.
We're getting a good dose of rain which is nothing new up here, but I'm definitely the So Cal "fish out of water" with the rain steadily falling down this past week. Actually it's been fun wearing jeans, a down jacket and my Vibram sole shoes everyday like when it used to rain in winter growing up on the Central Coast in California. I love my shorts and t-shirt lifestyle down in San Diego, but I'm rather enjoying the cold and constant wet along with the nighttime fireplace with the missus. I also love to listen to the rain gutter drip while you lay in bed just before you go to sleep.
Being in the lovely small town of Edmonds is always fun, and this trip we had the pleasure of seeing Rosanne Cash and her husband, John Leventhal at the 700 seat Edmonds Center for the Arts. Both Mary Kit and I throughly enjoyed this venue as the acoustics of the theater was simply fantastic to match Rosanne's beautiful voice and the guitar playing of John Leventhal.
The boomer-aged audience were so respectful that you could hear a pin drop during every song. It was also nice not to see even one smartphone make an appearance as apparently everyone in Edmonds actually follows directions when the announcement of no photography was given at the beginning of the show. After seeing several stadium and arena shows in 2017, it was refreshing to hear music given the theater treatment and actually listened to by 100% of the audience. It's safe to say that we're now following the ECA schedule and we'll be back for future performances! (Darn, missed Randy Newman's show at ECA last October!)
Rosanne and John, billed as the Rosanne Cash Duo are currently on tour, that started here in Edmonds and moves on to several more shows in Washington state, back to Carnegie Hall in New York and then up into Canada. (I searched for a current tour setlist, but so far nothing has been posted online as of this date.)
This show is truly an Americana experience as Rosanne's set plays across her musical catalog including her 80's hits now performed with just the Duo's harmony with two acoustic guitars, or mandolin and piano accompaniment from John. At 62, Rosanne's voice is totally intact to present the couple's songwriting together from her most recent albums, 2014's River & the Thread, and 2009's, The List.
Rosanne is also a wonderful storyteller as she share's her life experiences and sets up each song so well. With The List she tells the story of her famous father giving her at age 18 a handwritten "list" of 100 "American roots music" essential songs. She still has that list as she learned and preformed many of the classics such as 500 Miles throughout her career. I enjoyed hearing about her going on the road right out of high school for two and half years with Johnny, Carl Perkins and the Carter family. On that tour, she learned many of the Carter family's lexicon backstage with Mother Maybelle Carter who played "badass" guitar along with the other Carter family members.
I also enjoyed learning about Rosanne and John's 23 year marriage and their "all getting along" with first husband, Rodney Crowell who is also a fantastic singer-songwriter. Being 62 myself and living a second marriage in a wonderful blended family with my wife Mary Kit and all our combined children and grandchildren, it is nice to hear their story as well. In fact, Rodney has a new song and video that I featured in My Favorite Songs of 2017, from his Close Ties album called, It Ain't Over Yet which features Rosanne Cash and John Paul White that you must listen to and I've included in this week's playlist. Life is that long winding journey filled with hope, regret and redemption that is often best captured in the written lyric with guitar in hand.
Both MK and I were struck by Rosanne's and John's total partnership- married and coupled with their musical careers, it must be quite a dance, and what a fine dance indeed to see in person. I only write about shows that I really like (you know what mom's say about "if you don't have anything nice to say...") well I have a lot of nice things to say here and that comes easy with such great people as Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal live on stage. Enjoy this playlist my friends.