Archive for September, 2011

CD Review: The Burritos’ “Sound as Ever”

September 20, 2011

By Dave Carew

Sound as ever” was a valediction Gram Parsons used when closing letters to family and friends. It’s an obscure reference—you basically have to be a Gram freak (like me) to get it, and to, hence, get the connection between Gram Parsons, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and this outstanding debut album by the Nashville-based band The Burritos.

Twenty years from now, when music historians pose the question: “Who, in Nashville during the early 21st century, most kept the musical legacy of Gram Parsons alive?” I will—if still kicking around—answer unequivocally: Chris James and Walter Egan, both of whom now are members of The Burritos. Among the many things each man has done to keep GP’s flame burning has been to play and/or host numerous Gram Parsons Tribute shows. Chris also has written at length about GP in his much-loved music magazine Shake! And Walter frequently has graced his recent shows with the song “Hearts on Fire”—which also appears on this record—which Walter gave to Gram in the early 1970s and which later appeared on Gram’s second solo album, Grievous Angel.

What really counts, though, is how much The Burritos, on this record, delve into the mystic richness of the legacy and use it to create new musical gold. Song after song on Sound as Ever is an absolute gem of the “Cosmic American Music” genre. The unforgettable songs just keep on coming—with “Beggar’s Banquet,” “Angeline,” “The Hundred Year Flood,” and “Song and Dance Man” being particular examples of writing that is—by turns—emotive, country-soulful, and just damn way-cool.

I can offer no higher compliment than this: If Gram Parsons and the original Flying Burrito Brothers could have warded off the demons and produced a great follow-up to their classic The Gilded Palace of Sin, it may very well have sounded like this fantastic new album.

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.

CD Review: Shantell Ogden’s “Stories Behind Songs”

September 15, 2011

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience.” “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscoft.org.  Thank you.

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CD Review: Shantell Ogden’s “Stories Behind Songs”

By Dave Carew

One of the great pleasures of living in Nashville is meeting rising singer-songwriters who, as the saying goes, “can’t get arrested” when you first meet them . . . then go on to score major successes later. It’s fun to think “I knew them when.”

I predict that—very soon—I’ll be able to say that about Shantell Ogden. From the moment I threw Stories Behind Songs into my CD player, I was struck by how beautifully-crafted, finely-honed, and heartfelt these songs are. And the CD doesn’t even include Shantell’s co-written tune “Lost,” which currently is receiving radio airplay for Acklen Park on 60 country stations coast to coast.

For me, though, the key trait of an outstanding songwriter is not just to have the craft, not just to have the polish, but to have the heart, mind, and soul . . . the ability to convey human emotional complexity—feelings we’ve all had, yet which few of us can convey—with genuine musical beauty and authenticity. Several songs in this collection, including “I Wasn’t Done Loving You Yet” and “I Love Different Now” perfectly fit that bill.

If someone were to ask me, “What will Shantell Ogden be doing a year from now?”, I would respond quickly, and with absolute confidence. I’d say, “She’ll be writing hit songs.”  How do I know that?  Because—for my money—she already is.

For more about Shantell Ogden, visit ShantellOgden.com.

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.

 

Book Review: “William Faulkner: The Man and the Artist” by Stephen B. Oates

September 7, 2011

by Roy E. Perry

Considered one of the literary titans of American literature, William Cuthbert Faulkner won the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature, two Pulitzer prizes, and numerous other awards. Not bad for a “self-made man” who had little formal education. His main claim to fame was the novels dealing with the characters of his fictitious Yoknapatawpha County saga (based on Lafayette County, Mississippi, of which Oxford is the country seat), which he described as “my own little postage stamp of native soil.”

Of his 19 novels, Faulkner was at the apex of his creative artistry when he wrote The Sound and the Fury (1929; which Oates points out was “the novel closest to Faulkner’s heart“); As I Lay Dying (1930); Light in August (1932); and Absalom! Absalom! (1936; which many critics opine as his greatest work).

Faulkner’s favorite books? Oates writes: “He read again and again, maybe once a year, the Old Testament, Shakespeare, some of Balzac, Don Quixote, Madame Bovary, Moby Dick, Vanity Faire, and The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus.’ When pressed, during a lecture, to rate his contemporaries, Faulkner said he would rank Thomas Wolfe first, then Dos Passos, Hemingway, Willa Cather, and John Steinbeck. An [Ole Miss] student pointed out that he hadn’t ranked himself. Where would he put William Faulkner on his list? ‘I’m afraid you’re taxing Mr. Faulkner’s modesty,’ a faculty member said. At the student’s insistence, Faulkner revised his list, ranking himself second to Wolfe in terms of their courage and the ‘magnitude of their failure.’ He put Dos Passos third, Hemingway fourth, and Steinbeck fifth, dropping Cather from his list.

In fewer than four hundred pages, Stephen B. Oates has written a fascinating, highly readable, and intelligent novel of one of America’s top-echelon writers, a man and an artist pursued and driven by demons, who created a fictional world describing humanity’s hopes and fears, dreams and nightmares, triumphs and tragedies, magnificent successes and miserable failures, glory and shame. With admiration, I commend Faulkner’s works and Oates’s biography of Faulkner to your reading experience.

Roy E. Perry of Nolensville, Tennessee was a book reviewer for the ‘Nashville Banner’ and ‘The Tennessean’ for more than thirty years. Now retired, he also was an advertising copywriter at a Nashville publishing house for more than twenty-five years.

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.

 

 

Sara Beck returns from European tour with Kevin Costner

September 1, 2011

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience.” “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

************

Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscoft.org.  Thank you.

************

Sara Beck returns from European tour with Kevin Costner

By Dave Carew

Sara Beck has had an amazing 2011. In addition to releasing THE best pop album of the year (yes, you just read that correctly), Sara also recently returned from touring in Europe with Academy Award-winning Kevin Costner and his band Modern West.

In this exclusive interview, Underground Nashville asked Sara about her recent experiences in Europe with Costner, and about what her fans might expect from her musically in the future.

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE:  You’ve opened shows for Kevin Costner & Modern West in each of the past two summers.  How did Kevin originally learn about you and invite you to open for him?

SARA BECK: My husband plays guitar player in Modern West, and Teddy Morgan, the band’s producer/guitarist, engineered and mixed my most recent record, Technicolor. Teddy asked me to sing on a couple of things for their last record, and I ended up recording a duet with Kevin called “Let Me Be the One,” which was their European single last year. I started going out on the road with them to promote the single, and it grew naturally into the band asking me to open for them.

UN:  What do you most gain spiritually and/or artistically by opening for Kevin Costner in European cities?

SB: When I open shows for KCMW, I play solo, which is one of the most exciting ways to perform because the canvas is blank, and you’re the only one who can fill it. It forces you to be in the moment as a performer. Also, the audiences we have had have been wonderful—passionate and welcoming. That’s just fuel for a writer and performer, and there’s no substitute for it.

UN:  You began your career as a folk/Americana singer-songwriter, then moved in a pop / r & b direction for your last two albums.  Do you plan to continue to explore pop/r & b in your future writing and recording?

SB: Right now I’m finding that I’m actually more interested in making an acoustic record—maybe because I am playing so many acoustic shows. But the thing about this journey is that every new project incorporates where you’ve been with where you are. I am always interested in finding the soul of a song, and that’s something classic R&B does so well. I’d love to bring that spirit to a stripped down recording and see what happens.

For more about Sara Beck, visit SaraBeck.net.

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.

 

 

 


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