Posts Tagged ‘Chris James’

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.

Newly launched band “The Burritos” to carry on the musical tradition of Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers

June 3, 2011

By Dave Carew

A new Nashville-based band including local musician Chris James and Walter “Magnet and Steel” Egan, calling itself The Burritos, has been signed by SPV Records in England, and will release its first album in July.  The new record will feature all original songs, written in the musical tradition of the legendary Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers.

The Burritos played a set at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville last week, and will be a featured act on Monday (June 6) at the RiverFest in Wichita, Kansas.

Chris James was kind enough to share some of the band’s back story with Underground Nashville:

“I was contacted by SPV Records in England about a year ago and asked if I might be able to put together a new version of The Flying Burrito Brothers for their label,” James says. “Their requirements were that we cleared each proposed member’s resume with them . . . .  The other determining factor with the record label was that we had to make a real strong album. I agreed that our best defense against those who might claim we have no business calling ourselves The Burritos is to be so darn good at it that it’s hard to knock. If the record wasn’t great, SPV wasn’t going to put it out.

“Fortunately they (and certainly we) feel that we delivered an excellent album.”

The band’s line-up is Chris James (keys & vocals), Walter Egan (guitars & vocals), Rick Lonow (drums & vocals) and Fred James (Chris James’ brother, pedal steel guitar, guitars & vocals).  It is the first time that a band in lineage with The Flying Burrito Brothers actually has real brothers playing in it.

The band is so new its web site is still under construction.

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 copywriter.

 

Under-publicized event provides enjoyable, enriching night of Gram Parsons’ music

November 15, 2010

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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Middle Tennessee was devastated in May from flooding from which it will take months—in some cases, years—to recover. Please join the recovery effort by contacting Hands on Nashville at Hon.org or by calling (in Nashville) 211. Otherwise, please call 800-318-9355. You can also support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts by going to Salarmy-Nashville.org of calling 800-725-2769.  Thank you.

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Under-publicized event provides enjoyable, enriching night of Gram Parsons’ music

by Dave Carew

Earlier this month, the Gram Parsons Tribute Concert—promoted heavily on this blog and, seemingly, hardly anywhere else—was held at The 5 Spot in Nashville. Despite a crowd that never topped 50-or-so, due to the lack of publicity, the night was a huge musical success, with Walter Egan and Chris James’ “Grampyres” being particularly stand-out.  The interesting—perhaps sad—truth is that Walter and Chris perform Gram Parsons tunes at a much higher level than Gram or The Flying Burrito Brothers ever did.  (Don’t get me wrong; I love the Burritos. They just typically left a lot to be desired as a live band, thanks, in no small art, to Gram’s illegal smile.)

One curiosity about this show was why The 5 Spot…or the people handling publicity for the show…and/or The Tennessean would choose to bill this concert as “Gram National” in the newspaper listings.  “Gram National” means… um…approximately nothing to anyone but those behind the event. And listing the event that way in the newspaper guaranteed that even hard-core Gram Parsons fans in Nashville (of whom there are hundreds if not thousands) would have absolutely no idea a Gram Parsons Tribute Concert was being held at the 5 Spot that night.  Which was a pity.  Last year, when the simple words “Gram Parsons Tribute Concert” was used in the newspaper, the resulting crowd was (at least) three times larger.

The inability of most musicians to intelligently publicize themselves never ceases to amaze me.

David M. (Dave) Carew is 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 copywriter.

Gram Parsons Tribute Concert (“Gram National”) coming this Friday to The 5 Spot in East Nashville

November 3, 2010

Gram Parsons Tribute Concert (“Gram National”) coming this Friday to The 5 Spot in East Nashville

by Dave Carew

Don’t forget that “Gram National”—the annual Gram Parsons Tribute Concert that advocates for Gram’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame—will be held this Friday, November 5, at The 5 Spot in East Nashville, starting at 8 p.m.

Included in the lineup are Underground Nashville favorites Walter Egan and Chris James—along with Rick Lonow and John Terrence—who will be playing as “The Grampyres.” (They are scheduled to go on at 10:40 p.m.)

Other outstanding artists hitting one of Nashville’s favorite stages will be The Coal Men, Jennifer Brantley (who recently was chosen to record the only unrecorded Hank Williams, Sr. song), Derek Hoke, Don Gallardo & How Far West, American Aquarium, and more.

This is always one of the coolest live shows of the year. Don’t miss it!

David M. (Dave) Carew is 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 copywriter.

Interview with “Shake!” (music) magazine editor/publisher Chris James– Part II

January 7, 2010

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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As we head into the New Year, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. To make sure homeless human beings receive the food, love, and friendship they need, please donate to the Nashville Rescue Mission by calling (615) 255-2475 or by visiting Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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Interview with “Shake!” (music) Magazine Publisher and
Lost Sideshow frontman Chris James – - Part II

by Dave Carew

One of most under-appreciated music magazines in the U.S. is the Nashville-area-based Shake!, edited and published by session and performing singer/keyboardist Chris James. (Some of you may know Chris as “the Jim Morrison guy” in the outstanding Doors tribute, The Lost Sideshow.) Recently, Underground Nashville caught up with Chris for this interview. (Part II follows. Please see below for Part I.)

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: What else would you like readers to know about Shake?

CHRIS JAMES: I’d like them to know we barely get by most of the time. It’s not easy to raise enough money to get the thing printed when I’m not really that interested in being a high-powered salesman. My interest is my deep love of music. I love to write about it, to tell others things I believe are interesting. I wish it wasn’t so hard to get ads sold. Maybe somebody would like to help?

UN: Within the past year, you formed a new band called The Gram Band. What is the artistic purpose of the band? Do you have any dates scheduled for the coming months?

CJ: The idea behind The Gram Band is to have a vehicle for performing Gram Parsons’ material live. I’ve been a huge fan of GP all the way back to when he was still alive. I’ve played in many tributes and recorded some of his songs. I wanted the chance to sing his songs at the last tribute back in September in Nashville. I’ve always before been in somebody’s supporting cast—back-up singer and keyboards. With this band I’m the lead singer. I love it. We don’t have any dates for performing scheduled right now. That’ll change. But we have started putting together plans for recording. That’s exciting.

UN: What other new or ongoing musical projects are you working on?

CJ: I’m always in The Lost Sideshow, which is Nashville’s tribute to The Doors. We’re real good and people love it whenever we play, which is only once or twice a year. We’re scheduled to do that Friday, February 12 at Kimbro’s in Franklin. I’m also in a cool Native American group with John Lone Eagle (full blooded Apache pow-wow drummer) called Red Hand/White Hand. We’ve recorded two CDs. I think we’ll do a lot more there. I love the group. I’m also a member of Walter Egan’s Walternative Band. Fantastic group. I do a fair amount of studio sessions as a singer and keyboardist. And I get to play every few months or so with Bill Lloyd’s Long Players. Man, they’re a hoot. Great band! I’m just trying to stay busy and creative as best I can. Thanks for your interest.

To visit “Shake” magazine online and/or contact Chris James , please visit  Shakenashville.com.

David M. (Dave) Carew is 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 publicist and copywriter.

Interview with “Shake!” magazine publisher Chris James–Part I

January 5, 2010

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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As we head into the New Year, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. To make sure homeless human beings receive the food, love, and friendship they need, please donate to the Nashville Rescue Mission by calling (615) 255-2475 or by visiting Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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Interview with “Shake!” (Rock) Magazine Publisher and
Lost Sideshow Frontman Chris James

by Dave Carew

One of most under-appreciated rock magazines in the U.S. is the Nashville-area-based Shake!, edited and published by session and performing singer/keyboardist Chris James. (Some of you may know Chris as “the Jim Morrison guy” in the outstanding Doors tribute, The Lost Sideshow.) Recently, Underground Nashville caught up with Chris for this interview.

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: In what ways is Shake! distinct from other music magazines?

CHRIS JAMES: First off, it’s small. I put it together with layout man Warren Ells. It’s a two-man operation. Also, Shake! has a slant towards classic rock that most magazines don’t have. We have an editorial [perspective] that most of the big-selling, popular music of today is artistically weak. It’s just product for video and sales. Real bands with real musicians interacting is what we’re interested in with Shake! There aren’t enough of them on the charts these days.

UN: Which of your stories so far have had the greatest impact on your readership? What impact did they have?

CJ: The stories we did about Jimi Hendrix: The Nashville Years had the greatest impact by far. Shake! featured the first true in-depth coverage of what Hendrix was up to from 1963-65. That story really rocked. Our coverage of Eva Cassidy and Danny Whitten had good impact, too. I like the idea of turning people onto something or someone in music whom they didn’t really know about before. Gram Parsons was a real good story too.

UN: I notice letters to the editor in Shake! from places far removed from Nashville. How widely circulated is your magazine?

CJ: The magazine is just circulated for free all around Nashville. We’ve got a small mailing list of subscriptions too. The reason we get letters from far and wide is because Nashville has visitors from all over the world. So we receive correspondence from people far away, who picked up a copy when they were in Music City. I love whenever that happens.

Coming in the next “Underground Nashville” post:

The conclusion of our two-art interview with Chris James. Chris discusses the hard realities of publishing a rock magazine “when you’re not interested in being a high-powered salesman” . . . and reveals why he recently started Nashville’s best (in our never-humble opinion) Gram Parsons tribute band.


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