Listen Up! Neko Case – “That’s Who I Am” from Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

GhostBros_cover_5x5_rgbI haven’t seen the Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, the collaboration by horror author Stephen King and , roots-rocker John Mellencamp and Americana godfather and singer/songwriter T Bone Burnett, but if the soundtrack gives us any insight into the Southern Gothic musical it’s going to be a killer.(heh)

I already posted an Elvis Costello cut from album. Now we have a sweet cut from Neko Case. A femme fatale reels off a long list of libido-fueled plays over a shuffle. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that Neko’s character is not one of the good guys.

It’s been years since I’ve heard this country music tinged sound from Neko and I am a fan. What do you think? Leave it in the comments below.

June 4th, 2013 as the project’s new release date. Check the trailer for the soundtrack below.

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County – A Gothic Americana Musical Soundtrack Forthcoming

I’m not what you would call a fan of musicals (though I do have a soft spot for The Sound of Music) but I am intrigued by the Gothic musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County CD release.  The result of a more than a decade long project between horror-rock master (and Americana music fan ) Stephen King and and roots/rock legend  John Mellencamp. As the musical got closer to completion they brought in singer/songwriter and producer T Bone Burnett to help flesh out the music. Burnett, who helmed the music for the Cohen Brother’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart was brought in to “… create the vibe.”

The genesis of the project was Mellencamp who in the late 1990swas inspired by his own supposedly haunted cabin in Bloomington, IN . The lore goes that in the 1930s two brothers got into a fight over a woman at the cabin, and one of them wound up accidentally dead. The surviving brother and the woman sped away in a car, but crashed into a lake a short time later and both drowned.the stuff of Gothic lore, though the absence of moonshine and firearms works against it being Southern Gothic lore.

Mellencamp interpretats the story as  “…two brothers; they’re 19 years old or 20, maybe 18 or 21, who are very competitive and dislike each other immensely. The father takes them to the family vacation place, a cabin that the boys hadn’t been to since they were kids. What has happened is that the father had two older brothers who hated each other and killed each other in that cabin There’s a confederacy of ghosts who also live in this house. The older [dead] brothers are there, and they speak to the audience, and they sing to the audience. That’s all I want to say, except through this family vacation, many things are learned about the family, and many interesting songs are sung.” Again I emphasis the lack of moonshine and firearms!

Both King and Mellencamp welcomed to opportunity to challenge themselves. “You can just keep doing the same shit and you’ll make a living at it,” says King.

The musical oped at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, between  April 4, 2012 until May 13, 2012 and was directed by Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Susan V. Booth, with musical direction by T Bone Burnett. The cast of the upcoming production is led by Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley (Young Frankenstein, Oklahoma, Sweet and Sad) and Tony Award nominee Emily Skinner (Billy Elliot, Side Show, James Joyce’s The Dead), and includes Justin Guarini (“American Idol,” American Idiot, Women on the Verge…), blues musician and actor Jake La Botz, Lucas Kavner (Completeness, The Blue Flower), Kate Ferber (One Child Born: the Music of Laura Nyro), Christopher Morgan (Gut Bucket Blues) and country musician Dale Watson.

Variety reviewed the show harshly, stating ” By the end of the show, you may yearning for “Carrie.” Ouch.

Though music created for a theatrical setting has it’s own flavor there’s no denying the pedigree of Americana music talent involved CD release. But judging by the Elvis Costello cut  “That’s Me,” sung not by Costello but by a member of the cast, I think this could be a great idea that misses the mark.

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County will be available as Standard Edition CD featureing  the complete soundtrack, dialog excerpts and digital libretto. The (2CD/1DVD) Deluxe Edition contains the complete soundtrack (with and without dialog), deluxe art work, handwritten lyrics, specially printed libretto and the “Making of Ghost Brothers” mini-documentary DVD featuring in-depth interviews with King, Mellencamp and Burnett along with other bonus material. Digital editions for tablets, smartphones and e-readers will allow users to interact with the soundtrack + digital libretto, as well as exclusive video and graphic materials.

GHOST BROTHERS OF DARKLAND COUNTY

-Libretto by Stephen King
-Music & Lyrics by John Mellencamp
-Musical Direction by T Bone Burnett
-Featured cast: Kris Kristofferson, Meg Ryan,
Matthew McConaughey, Samantha Mathis, Elvis Costello

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County track listing:

That’s Me  – Elvis Costello (listen at bottom of post)
That’s Who I Am – Neko Case
So Goddamn Smart  – Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin, Sheryl Crow
Wrong, Wrong, Wrong About Me – Elvis Costello
Brotherly Love – Ryan Bingham and Will Dailey
How Many Days – Kris Kristofferson
You Are Blind – Ryan Bingham
Home Again – Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin, Taj Mahal
What’s Going On Here – Rosanne Cash
My Name Is Joe – Clyde Mulroney
Tear This Cabin Down – Taj Mahal
And Your Days Are Gone – Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin
Jukin’ – Sheryl Crow
What Kind Of Man Am I – Kris Kristofferson, Phil Alvin, Sheryl Crow Dave Alvin, Taj Mahal
So Goddamn Good – Phil Alvin, Dave Alvin, Sheryl Crow
Away From This World – Sheryl Crow
Truth – John Mellencamp

http://soundcloud.com/fantasylabelgroup/thats-me-elvis-costello

 

 

No More Kings

The other day I     saw a tweet from  the American Songwriter site a story title that caught my eye, like many of the tweets from excellent @AmerSongwriter. Writer Austin L. Ray story on Robert Plant and his new musical venture Band of Joy “The Unlikely King Of Americana.” It’s an excellent take on how a once rock-god followed his muse from the amped-up Blues side of the tracks to where the American genre flourishes wild.

Though it is a great story of a learned musical journeyman I take exception to the title of the piece. Please allow be to indulge the petty grievance of a genre blogger.

My first quibble is with the method of Americana regal ascendancy. Plant was not born into a legacy of Americana lineage, like say Rosanne Cash or Justin Townes Earle, that would align him in a place in whatever a genre monarchy we might imagine. So his crown must be earned.  Putting aside the concept of a violent coup I will focus on the work to goal.

Granted Plant has released two excellent Americana albums, Raising Sand and the current Band of Joy, and Led Zeppelin sometimes infused their sound with an Americana  spice (Black Country Woman and Bron-Y-Aur Stomp are great examples of this) his body of original Americana material is scant. Aside from the few Zeppelin pieces, Raising Sand and Band of Joy are comprised primarily of covers. Though excellently interpreted; these covers do not mount an argument toward an Americana crown
.
If we weigh personal legacy and quality, original material a list to regal ascendancy would be long – Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, Marty Stuart, John Mellencamp, Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt etc. And why not a queen? Emmylou and Lucinda come to mind. And it’s not a Nativism issue. I believe Plant’s fellow English countrymen Elvis Costello and Richard Thompson have more of a right to any imagined throne.

Like America itself the Americana genre is a work in progress. And like America many of the settlers in this new land are from another land – rock, country, folk, hip-hop – and the borders are porous and the genre is stronger for it. Not all of these emigres are going to be in simpatico.  Guy Clark fans may have very little in common with Hank Williams III fans, but the bloodline that ties them are there for those who take the time to look.

Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association, when asked about Plant’s possible crowning is quoted as saying “Without question.” I have no argument with Hilly’s opinion on this. Hilly heads up a trade group who’s primary objective is to raise awareness. Plant, along with his well-chosen guides, Allison Krauss, T Bone Burnett and Buddy Miller and others as well as the excellent songwriters chosen to be included on his albums, has led to the addition of a an Americana GRAMMY (which I am fortunate to be covering this year) and brought significant awareness to the genre.

But as a blogger for the cause I take exception to this coronation, or in fact any coronation. Like America we serve under no crown but for the exceptional beauty of the music itself. But I do nominate Gram Parsons as it’s patron saint.

News Round Up: Ryan Bingham Wins For Best Song and Artist of the Year at the Americana Awards

Ryan Bigham has come a long way in a short time. From bull rider, to opening for the Drive By Truckers, to getting the Golden Globe and Academy Award for The Weary Kind, the theme to film Crazy Heart – a song that he and T Bone Burnett wrote together.  He can now add the song of the year won at the  Americana Awards Thursday night during a rousing show at the Ryman Auditorium. “Man, I don’t know if I really deserve this,” Bingham said. “Everyone on the list are all people I’ve looked up to and admired for a long time.” Other nominees were Patty Griffin, Levon Helm, Steve Earle and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Suitably humble and damn fine company to keep. Bingham also won the award for artist of the year that. with the year he’s had, he justifiably deserves.

Other 2010 Americana Honors and Awards recipients

Album of the year: The List Rosanne Cash
Instrumentalist of the year:  Buddy Miller
New /Emerging artists of the year:  Hayes Carll
Duo/Group of the year: The Avett Brothers

Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive:  Highway Records founder Luke Lewis
Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist:  Greg Leisz
Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance:  Wanda Jackson
Lifetime Achievement Award for Producer/Engineer:  Brian Ahern
Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriter:  John Mellencamp

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwwkqABItLA[/youtube]

Americana Awards

The New York Times on Those Darlins

  • The New York Times posts a great review of the riot grrrl-trad country group Those Darlins show at the lower East-Side’s Mercury Lounge.
  • Willie Nelson’s Facebook page is posting hints where this year’s Farm Aid will be held. So far we have:  The city for this year’s concert has a professional sports team named after an animal,  the concert will be in a state that is in the top 12 for number of farms  and it will be in a city & state where Farm Aid where Farm Aid has never been held.
  • Speaking of the Texas Yoda – Head over to Texas Music Matter to listen to Amazing Grace: The Willie Nelson Story – a winner of two National Headliners Awards including this year’s Grand Prize for Radio. Nearly a year in the making, the program features rare music plus interviews with, among others, Kris Kristofferson, Norah Jones, John Mellencamp, Ray Price, biographer Joe Nick Patoski, Willie’s best friend and closest confidante (his sister, Bobbie), and the Yoda  himself.
  • Country music legend (and daughter of country music legend Mel Tillis) Pam Tillis talks to the Vancouver Sun about the state of country music.

Country Singer Vern “The Voice” Gosdin Dies

  • Singer Vern Gosdin, who recorded country music hits like the award-winning “Chiseled in Stone” during a 30-year career, has died. He was 74. Gosdin reportedly had a history of strokes and suffered the latest one a few weeks ago and was under hospice care and died late Tuesday at a Nashville, Tenn. hospital. The 9513.com offers a fine tribute to the man.
  • Birthday Boy Willie Nelson will join relative young’uns Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp on a U.S. summer tour of minor league baseball parks, beginning July 2 at the GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill., and wrapping Aug. 15 at the Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle has posted a review of the John Prine / John Ritter  Apr 25th Warfield performance.
  • And in painful crossover news Def Leppard has been confirmed to perform on the CMT Music Awards on June 16. The Britsh pop-metal has-beens…er…band have recently been involved in the Music Row marketering wet dream collaborations with Tim McGraw earlier this year on the song “Nine Lives” and appearing with Taylor Swift on CMT Crossroads. What’s next? Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach doing coutry music…oh wait…

“Johnny Cash’s America” Premieres Tonight

HeadS up Twangers, “Johnny Cash’s America” premieres tonight, Thursday night, October 23, 2008, at 9PM ET/10PM PT on The Bio Channel.

The documentary explores the prominent themes of Cash’s life including love of the land, freedom, justice, family, faith and redemption through exclusive interviews, photos and unreleased music and footage. Interviews include Cash’s sister Joanne, son John Carter Cash and daughters Cindy Cash and Rosanne Cash, childhood friends and fellow band mates as well as Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow, Al Gore, Tim Robbins, Loretta Lynn, Snoop Dogg, Vince Gill, Ozzy Ozborne, Steve Earle, Merle Haggard and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) all of whom are connected to Cash in surprising ways.

The special features 27 of Cash’s songs as well as unreleased and never-before seen footage including the 1965 “Johnny Cash Show” featuring solo performance of “Five Feet High and Rising,” outtakes from the recording studio with Cash and Bob Dylan from his elusive Eat the Document documentary and rehearsal footage for a Highwaymen recording session. The Cash family – Johnny’s sister, son, and other relatives – take viewers to rural Dyess, Arkansas to Cash’s childhood home and visit brother Jack’s grave which elicits a moving, impromptu singing of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBY0iaGE1-E[/youtube]

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Chrissie Hynde Goes Country

Popmatters.com has a review of the DVD “Bill Monroe: Father of Bluegrass Music” which they discribe as “Informative and educational, intriguing and entertaining, part American history lesson, part biography and part concert film…”

The good folks over at The 9513 brought to my attention that current Twang Nation favorite Jamey Johnson will be joining Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and Kenny Chesney (?!) for the 2008 Farm Aid music festival in New England on Sept. 20. Nashville Scene (High Lonesome Sound) and CMT.com(Don’t Tell Jamey Johnson That He’s “Too Country”) both offer features on Johnson.

The guardian.co.uk Music Blog has a brief run down of the current state of American alt.country/Americana scene (Are you ready for (more of) the country?)

Chrissie Hynde of the bad the Pretenders states that the bands first new album in six years (“Break up the Concrete”) will be “moving in a country direction.” Of all the country music carpet bagging that has been happening recently I have to say that a musician with Hynde’s credibility makes me think she’ll do it right, but she is a vegitarian, so does this mean that Jessica Simpson has to get another t-shirt?

Nelson, Mellencamp Bring Farm Aid To New York

Billboard reports that Willie Nelson (the Texas Yoda) is hauling his do-gooding music festival to New York’s Randall’s Island.

Unlike Willie holding his 4th of July picnic outside the Lone Star (heresy!) Farm Aid has moved around since it’s birth 22 years ago, but having it on Randall’s Island is nice since it’s a subway ride away!

From Billboard: Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp joined New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and a host of local farmers today (June 11) amid the Union Square Green Market to announce a Sept. 9 date for the annual Farm Aid benefit at Randall’s Island. As usual, the artists will be joined by fellow Farm Aid board members Neil Young and Dave Matthews at the event.

“This will be the first Farm Aid that provides 100% homegrown food at the concert,” Mellencamp said proudly. Acknowledging the organic market just a few hundred feet away, Nelson said, “This is a great example of what can be done in the big cities.”

Farm Aid, which is now in its 22nd year, will dovetail with a new biofuel initiative in New York. Beginning next summer, 30% of the city’s heating oil purchases will be required to contain 5% biofuel, with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.