“The reason man created stringed instruments. David touched them with a lover’s fingers and they moaned that true love right back at him. Wood and wire and flesh spoke.”
–      Jerry Jeff Walker on David Bromberg

Summer 2013: record heat wave, prolonged economic slump, music business under frontal assault. A bonafide legend could be forgiven for wanting to coast a bit or ride off into the sunset, but that’s not how this narrative goes: ladies & gentlemen, allow us to re-introduce David Bromberg, the Godfather of Americana, and his new album Only Slightly Mad, which will be released by Appleseed Recordings on September 24th.

You can tell a lot about a person from the company he keeps. When that company has included Bob Dylan, The Beastie Boys, George Harrison, Emmylou Harris, Doc Watson, John Hiatt, Jerry Garcia, Reverend Gary Davis, Dr. John, Pete Seeger, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Phoebe Snow, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Mississippi John Hurt, you realize you’re dealing with a very special case.

Bromberg was born in Philadelphia in 1945 and raised in Tarrytown, NY. “As a kid I listened to rock ’n’ roll and whatever else was on the radio,” says Bromberg. “I discovered Pete Seeger and The Weavers and, through them, Reverend Gary Davis. I then discovered Big Bill Broonzy, who led me to Muddy Waters and the Chicago blues. This was more or less the same time I discovered Flatt and Scruggs, which led to Bill Monroe and Doc Watson.”

David began studying guitar at age thirteen and eventually enrolled in Columbia University as a musicology major. The Greenwich Village folk scene in the mid-’60s drew David to the downtown clubs and coffeehouses, where he could watch and learn from the best performers, including primary sources such as his inspiration and teacher, the Reverend Gary Davis.

Bromberg’s sensitive and versatile approach to guitar-playing earned him jobs playing the Village “basket houses” for tips, the occasional paying gig, and employment as a backing musician for Tom Paxton, Jerry Jeff Walker and Rosalie Sorrels, among others. He became a first-call, “hired gun” guitarist for recording sessions, ultimately playing on hundreds of records by artists including Bob Dylan (New Morning, Self Portrait, Dylan), Link Wray, The Eagles, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, and Carly Simon.

An unexpected and wildly successful solo spot for 600,000 concert goers at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival in Great Britain led to a solo deal with Columbia Records, for whom David recorded four albums. His eponymous 1971 debut included “The Holdup,” a songwriting collaboration with former Beatle George Harrison, who also played slide guitar on the track. David also met the Grateful Dead and wound up with four of their members playing on his next two albums.

Bromberg’s material, based in the folk and blues idioms, continually expanded with each new album to encompass bluegrass, ragtime, country and ethnic music, and his touring band grew apace. By the mid-’70s, the David Bromberg Big Band included horn players, a violinist, and several multi-instrumentalists, including David himself. 

Despite sold-out concerts and a string of acclaimed albums on the Fantasy label, Bromberg found himself exhausted by the logistics of the music business. “I decided to change the direction of my life,” he explains. So David dissolved his band in 1980, and he and his artist/musician wife, Nancy Josephson, moved from Northern California to Chicago, where David attended the Kenneth Warren School of Violin Making. Though he still toured periodically, the recordings slowed to a trickle and then stopped.

After “too many Chicago winters,” in 2002 David and Nancy were lured to Wilmington, Del., where they became part of the city’s artist-in-residence program and where David could establish David Bromberg Fine Violins, a retail store and repair shop for high quality instruments. Frequent participation in the city’s weekly jam sessions helped rekindle Bromberg’s desire to make music again, as did the encouragement of fellow musicians Chris Hillman (The Byrds, Desert Rose Band, Flying Burrito Brothers) and bluegrass wizard Herb Pedersen.

With the release of the Grammy-nominated 'Try Me One More Time,' his 2007 solo return to the studio, David continued his musical revitalization, playing shows on his own, with the David Bromberg Quartet, and reunions of the David Bromberg Big Band. In 2009, spurred by a suggestion from John Hiatt that he come to Hiatt’s Nashville studio to "mess around," David came up with the idea for 'Use Me' - an album featuring David with Hiatt and other friends like Levon Helm, Los Lobos, Tim O’Brien, Vince Gill, Widespread Panic, Dr. John, Keb’ Mo’ and Linda Ronstadt. Each guest artist either wrote or selected a song and then produced David’s interpretation of their suggested tune, thereby fulfilling David’s request to ‘Use Me’. Partially detailing the proceedings, filmmaker Beth Kruvant directed a compelling film documentary David Bromberg; Unsung Treasure, which is currently circulating at US and Canadian film festivals.

In 2013, content with the balance of both his violin business and performing career, David was ready to record again with his live band. Enlisting old friend Larry Campbell (three-time Grammy-winning producer for Levon Helm and multi-instrumentalist with Bob Dylan) and engineer Justin Guip, David and his group entered Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY, in March 2013. Enlisting some of Helm's former recording and touring musicians for added instrumentation, the David Bromberg Band emerged twelve days later with 'Only Slightly Mad,' a return to his genre-bending albums of the Seventies and Eighties. Bromberg fans will find blues, bluegrass, gospel, folk, Irish fiddle tunes, pop and English drinking songs happily coexisting as they can only on a Bromberg album. For newcomers, Only Slightly Mad will be an introduction to an astonishing performer whose range and musical depth have delighted devoted audiences for over forty years and will for many years hence.

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Annie Mack

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What do you get when you combine blues,roots,gospel,country and soul? A powerful and eclectic mix that makes up the rich layering that is the essence of Annie Mack. With a powerful voice, strong presence and captivating storytelling ability Annie Mack is a force to be reckoned with. Following in the footsteps of the Blues Women before her, she makes a genuine connection with her audience. She upholds  the tradition of "Testifyin" about the experiences of Life.

Here is what she has to say about her Music. 

"As a little kid I fell in love with music. I realized that a lot of times, when I didn't quite know how to express myself, music was able to convey for me what I couldn't. I love entertaining and feel blessed whenever I am able to perform.  I know I have been been called to a deeper purpose. I believe My mission is to encourage people through the power of music. Music is a sacred thing..it brings about healing, truth and hope. Now lets Get Lifted!"

 
 
 
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Javier Matos & the Innocent Sons

Javier and the blues became buddies in 1978 when he discovered his father's record collection. He has been playing blues professionally since 1992.  

In 1999 he signed to Storyville Records and released Comin Home internationally under the surname Jake Matson. Later that year, Javier met Bill Bateman (Blasters, Red Devils, Cramps) and moved to Los Angeles.

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While living in Los Angeles Javier and Bill teamed up with John Bazz, also of The Blasters, and reformed The Blue Shadows who reopened the famous King King in Hollywood, California. They were voted best blues band by the L.A City Rock news and featured on the cover of Billboard Magazine as major contributors to blues music in the Los Angeles area.

After meeting Chopper Franklin (Cramps, Heathen Apostles) they formed the Doghouse Lords which was featured in the film, Cry Now and placed several songs on television shows like Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad.

Javier & the Innocent Sons are a powerful early Chicago Blues Band from Minneapolis.  Javier & the Wayback are a prewar trio that perform primarily acoustically in the early country blues tradition. 

"In a time when blues is defined by a boring tendency for slick or overzealous distortion, Matos isn't afraid to keep it real and make it bleed." Ian Power~MN Daily

"Clear, powerful, soulful, mature, menacing, uproarious and infernal"

James Norton~ Heavytable.com

javiermatosmusic.com

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Whyte-Orfield Band

Three time Grammy award nominee, Ellen Whyte, has released her fourth album, appropriately titled: Four Way Stop, a soaring achievement from an accomplished singer songwriter. Long time Portland, Oregon KINK FM 102 Blues Show radio personality, Bob Ancheta raved that it gave him “goose bumps!”

Ellen has fronted bands continuously now for 35 years, as she has three critically acclaimed albums in addition to the latest effort. She was captivated by music since she was a child growing up in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Leaving the humidity and the taffeta dresses of her accordion marching band behind, Ellen branched out to blue grass, gospel, rock, blues and jazz. Her eclectic tastes in music include heroes such as Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, and Bonnie Raitt.

Ellen is known for her astonishing vocals, as she gracefully moves among genres from blues to jazz to funk and ballads. Her percussive rhythm guitar work is well suited to her voice, and she plays solo, in duos and trios, up to a full nine piece band complete with a horn section. She’s won numerous awards for her work, including consideration for two Grammy Award nominations in 1999 and most recently in 2009 for “Four Way Stop.”

Speaking of such, Grammy award producer Dennis Walker had this to say after working on the third CD, Standing at the Sunrise: “She not only sings like an angel, but brings her own styling and phrasing to every song that is completely individual. Thank God for Ellen Whyte who is one of the last few who can still sing blues and pop and jazz, and still stand up on a stage and sing big band standards with the best of them.”

Ellen, guitarist Garry Meziere, and her husband John Mullin, have collaborated with veteran musicians—“The ‘A’ List Commandos,” as Ellen likes to refer to them-- to produce a sophisticated, yet accessible sound that synchs up well with thoughtful and emotionally infused lyrics.

In addition to the Northwest, Ellen tours in the Mid West and on the East Coast, West Coast, and was a featured artist in the International Blues festival in Montreal. Get ready for some “Heart Rockin’ Music” with Ellen Whyte!

Sue Orfield plays the tenor saxophone with the whimsy of Sonny Rollins, the passion of Kurt Cobain, the soul of Bill Withers, and the joy of Ella Fitzgerald. Along with a compelling mastery of her instrument, Sue brings to the stage a powerful presence and joy of all things musical.

Sue has played with many musical greats over the years, including Bo Diddley, Bobby McFerrin, The Indigo Girls, Ann Wilson (Heart), Dizzy Gillespie, Ivan Neville, Jo Dee Messina, among others. She tours internationally with several groups, including The Tiptons Sax Quartet (formerly The Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet) (Seattle/NYC), and Ellen Whyte (Portland).

Sue was voted "Best Horn" by the Washington Blues Society for the years 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004.

Her own group, The Sue Orfield Band (SOB), highlights Orfield's talents as a composer as well as a player. SOB was voted Best Jazz Band in Volume One's "Best Of The Chippewa Valley 2009" reader poll. (Eau Claire, WI)

Sue makes her home in the Chippewa Valley of Wisconsin, and plays locally with bands from all over Wisconsin and Minnesota, including The Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra, Catya's Trio, Willie Walker And The Butanes, Deep Water Reunion, Combo Flambe, and many more.

Mike Schlenker is a mainstay in the Chippewa Valley music scene. He’s been playing music locally, and touring for 30 years, and is most noted for playing with bands such as Another Carnival, Axis, and the Jimmy Solberg Band.

Mike has shared the stage with many notable musicians over the years, including Howard Ludtke, Peter Phippen, and Jo Dee Messina. He currently lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, playing music and running his music store, Speed of Sound.

Randy Sinz has been playing music professionally for over 44 years. Although he first learned to play guitar, first stage performance on bass was at the age of 12 with his father’s band, Jerry Sinz and his Dairyland Ranch Hands.

After a road tour in the 70’s with the “Al Perry Country Affair,” he played with a number of popular bands from the Chippewa Valley, including the Cadillac Cowboys, Tequila Sage, Southern Serenade, the Dairyland Ranch Hands, and Rada-Dada.

In addition to playing with the Sue Orfield Band, he currently plays electric and upright bass with Ranger Rudy & the Swingin’ Wingtips, Catya’s Trio, AcoustiHoo, Code Blue, and Rada-Dada.

Drummer Dave Schrader has performed in many local cover bands around the Chippewa Valley since the age of 15. As a road warrior and through hard knocks and dirty socks, he spent time traveling with several bands from 1973 through 1977 gaining experience in different genres.

During the 1980s he was a proud member of “Southern Serenade,” a popular country-rock group who thrilled audiences with their vocal and musical talents. In 1991, he provided the drum tracks for the rock band “Rhythm Kings” second CD. Currently, he is also a member of “Dixie & The Dreamers.”

He brings to the table a smooth, versatile approach to multiple styles of music and a solid background vocal capability.

whyteorfieldband.com

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South Farwell

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Taken from an article by Ian Jacoby in Volume One.  Thursday, June 25, 2009.

South Farwell is a band almost too earnest for its own good. “Just make me sound witty and charming,” laughs lead singer, Bill Boles over the phone. It comes at the end of an interview that has seen Boles dish out plenty of both aforementioned qualities, but perhaps even more pervasive than wit or charm is the feeling of earnestness that Boles emanates. He believes in his band, he believes in his songs, and (most refreshingly) he believes in the pure and simple beauty of a life restarted.

Boles is perhaps best known as an integral cog in the local “porch-rock” band Easychair. Boles joined the group in 2001 at the tender age of 21, and continued until they started to wave in 2007. The years since the band broke up have seen Boles grow as a singer-songwriter, opening up for local acts at venues across the Chippewa Valley. As Boles says, South Farwell was a natural progression from where he was as a songwriter.

“With Easychair it was a great guitar-driven rock sound, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that I’m much more into people like Patty Griffin and Ray Lamontagne. Really personal singer/songwriters.”

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The result is the beautiful Tear Everything Down, coming out July 10. Boles, along with Tim Coughlin, Phil Juodis, and Cory Dahl evoke the spirit of early Springsteen, Ray Lamontagne, and even local favorites DeYarmond Edison.

“It’s weird,” says Dahl. “We originally started three years ago, then had to stop (for various reasons) ... we restarted last year with some of the same material, but completely revised it.”

The new direction saw the influence of local producer Mike Vlahakis. “He brought a more polished sound to what we do; we always envisioned having (different instruments) on the album, but Mike really brought them to life,” says Dahl.

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And it is true. Tear Everything Down is awash in chops of B3 organ, in shimmering horn lines, and in plenty of rollicking piano, but the biggest asset to the band is still its pure and simple earnestness. Dahls’ drums thump with a weight that works its way into your very bones, Coughlin and Juodis lay down severely solid sonic foundations, and on top of all of this is Boles’ voice, ringing and clear. It’s deceptively simple, and beautifully executed.

It may be simplistic to think that a band can change your worldview, that something as trivial as music can change the very foundation of the world we live in. But just maybe, there is something to the idea that music can transcend the fear that exists in perpetuity in these United States. If that is the case, South Farwell may stand for something that exists beyond danceabillity or hipness. South Farwell may, in fact, stand for hope.

facebook.com/SouthFarwell

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The Gopher Tones

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The Gopher Tones are a South Eastern Minnesota blues rock band that came together as a mutual admiration society comprised of members of Doghouse Jon and The Misbehavers, The Neo Rhythms, and The Annie Mack Band. After crossing paths on various blues gigs, The Gopher Tones  decided that the time to work together had come and they coalesced behind the dynamic vocals of Craig Tangen, guitar picker extraordinaire Charlie "Sugar Chuck" Lacy, and the blues guitar stylings of Tom Kochie. Rounding out the rhythm section are groovemasters Brian Engan on drums and Tim Scribner on bass. About our name ...we had a blues mentor that used to say, "Boys don't worry about playing all them fast notes, just go for tone and the rest will take care of itself". Words to live by, especially in the Gopher State

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