Three-time GRAMMY Award-winning singer, songwriter, performer and producer Brandi Carlile is currently in the midst of a landmark year following the release of her Grammy Award-winning album, By The Way, I Forgive You. Produced by Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings and recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, the album includes ten new songs written by Carlile and longtime collaborators and bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth, including “The Joke.” Of her breakthrough performance of the song on the live GRAMMY broadcast, The New York Times proclaimed, “Carlile’s vocals were robust, ragged, full of sneer and hope. On a night curiously light on impressive singing, it was an uncomplicated, genuine, cleansing thrill,” while the Los Angeles Times called it, “triumphant” and Rolling Stone described it as, “breathtaking.”Over the course of their acclaimed career, Carlile and her band have released six albums, including 2017’s Cover Stories: Brandi Carlile Celebrates 10 Years of the Story (An Album to Benefit War Child), which features 14 artists including Dolly Parton, Adele, Pearl Jam, Kris Kristofferson, The Avett Brothers, Margo Price and Jim James –with a forward written by Barack Obama –covering the songs on Carlile’s 2007 breakthrough album The Story. Profits from the project benefit Children in Conflict via Brandi Carlile’s Looking Out Foundation as part of its ongoing campaign to raise $1 million for children impacted by war.Steve Earle & The Dukes
Steve Earle, a man who doesn’t mind telling a story, was talking about the first thing Guy Clark ever said to him. “It was 974, I was 19 and I had just hitch-hiked from San Antonio to Nashville,” Earle said in mid-Texas-cum-Greenwhich Village drawl. “Back then if you wanted to be where the best songwriters were, you had to go to Nashville. There were a couple of places where you could get on stage, play your songs. They let you have two drafts, or pass the hat, but you couldn’t do both.”“If you were from Texas, and serious, Guy Clark was a king. Everyone knew his songs, “Desperados Waiting For a Train,” “LA Freeway”, he’d been singing them before they came out on Old No. 1 in 1975.” “So I was pretty excited when I went into the club and the bartender, a friend of mine says, “Guy’s here.” I wanted him to hear me play. I was doing some of my earliest songs, “Ben McCullough” and “The Mercenary Song.” But he was in the pool room and when I go in there the first thing he says to me is “I like your hat” More than forty years later, Steve Earle, just turned 64 no longer wears a cowboy hat. “It was more than all the hat acts,” Steve contended. “My grandmother told me it was impolite to wear a hat indoors” As for Guy Clark, he’s dead, passed away in 2016 after a decade long stare-down with lymphoma. But Earle wasn’t ready to stop thinking about his friend and mentor.
St. Paul and The Broken Bones
Blood is thicker than water, and it can leave scars. But like it or not, those in our bloodlines are stuck with us—and us with them—for better or for worse. Paul Janeway understands this conundrum of heritage well. The singer of the Birmingham, Alabama–based rock and roll soul band St. Paul & The Broken Bones was born and raised in America’s Deep South, a place where social consciousness can still take a backseat to unsavory traditions and where a family’s expectations sometimes supersede all else. Despite the fierce familial love, he enjoyed and constantly gave back while growing up—especially to his father and grandfather—from an early age Janeway realized that the way he thought about the world was a little different from those around him, and he began to seek an outlet from which to share what was in his heart and on his mind. Blessed with a powerful voice, a magnetism for connecting with people, and a gift for making music, he traded in a career in ministry to start his own band.
“I’ve always been the artsy weirdo in the family,” Janeway says. “I’m liberal, a blue dot in a very red part of the world. When you’re from Alabama you have to go out of your way to make people understand that you think a little differently. But we’re an Alabama band—it’s who we are.
”St. Paul & The Broken Bones formed in 2012, releasing their debut album Half the City in 2014 and its follow up, 2016’s Sea of Noise, too much acclaim. Those strong efforts helped place them on the national scene, and the band worked hard to prove they were no mere retro-soul band—from touring the world relentlessly, including being selected to open for The Rolling Stones and headlining two nights at the Ryman Auditorium, to TV appearances including The Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Conan, Austin City Limits two appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, one being the very first episode. Janeway’s fearless showmanship, thoughtful lyrics, and dedication to his performance soon became the band’s calling card, and paired with the inventive and skillful direction of co-band leader Jesse Phillips as well as a full eight-man roster comprised of some of the best young instrumentalists in the South, they soon became a must-see event. (In addition to Janeway on lead vocals and Phillips on bass and guitar, the lineup is rounded out by Browan Lollar (guitars), Andrew Lee (drums), Al Gamble (keyboards), Allen Branstetter (trumpet), Chad Fisher (trombone) and Amari Ansari (saxophone), who replaced Jason Mingledorff following the album’s recording) Over time, Janeway has learned the art of balancing expectations and how to reconcile his past with his future, just as his band have learned how to overcome their perception by pushing against its ceiling. In embracing those things he cannot change, he has forged ahead as an artist and as a man. And with his band’s new album, Young Sick Camellia, Janeway has created a space for St. Paul & The Broken Bones to rival any forward-thinking band making music today, based on a concept all-too familiar to him: family, and how we love them despite our differences.
After two years of relentless touring, Colter Wall wanted to make an album about home. Drawing on the stories of Saskatchewan, Canada, the young songwriter’s corner of the world takes shape throughout his second full-length album, Songs of the Plains. Produced by Dave Cobb in Nashville’s Studio A, the project combines striking original folk songs, well-chosen outside cuts, and a couple of traditional songs that reflect his roots growing up in the small city of Swift Current.
Sometimes, a mystical, life-changing connection can be closer than you think. In 2017, Grammy Award-winning guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada had recorded some instrumentals in his Austin studio, and he started looking around for a vocalist –he knew a lot of singers, but he wanted something different. He reached out to friends in Los Angeles, in London, but nothing seemed right.
Meantime, Eric Burton had recently made his way to Texas. Born in the San Fernando Valley, he grew up in church and then got heavily involved in musical theater. He started busking at the Santa Monica pier, where he brought in a few hundred dollars a day and developed his performance skills. Burton traveled through the Western states before deciding to settle down in Austin –setting up his busking spot on a downtown street corner, at 6th Street and Congress, for maximum exposure.
A mutual friend mentioned Burton to Quesada, saying that he was the best singer he had ever heard. The two musicians connected, but Burton took a while to respond (“My friends were like ‘Dude, you’re a mad man, you need to hit that guy back!’“) Finally, he called Quesada, and started singing to one of the tracks over the phone. “I loved his energy, his vibe, and I knew it would be incredible on record,” he says. “From the moment I heard him on the phone, I was all about it. ”The results of that inauspicious beginning can now be heard on the self-titled debut album from Black Pumas, the group that Quesada and Burton assembled, which has become one of the year’s most anticipated projects. Described as “Wu-Tang Clan meets James Brown” by KCRW, Black Pumas were the winner of Best New Band at the 2019 Austin Music Awards.
What is the new magic of music? If you trace the path of a plan back to its beginnings, what do you find? Is it a tree, growing from seed with deep roots planted in fertile soil, branches arcing out in all directions? Or a spark in the dark, an electrical charge? Is it a waterway, with swirling currents raging to create a river? Or is it a snowflake, falling from on high and dropping down to earth with a singular splash?
For Son Little, the genesis of a musical idea — the magic —remains largely a mystery. But his kinetic ability to summon that energy all the same, to command it, hold onto it, and set it in motion, is the stuff of alchemy. “The magic is this well I can draw from; you can’t necessarily see it, you just have to believe that it’s there,” he says. “If you believe, then you can reach your hand down in there and get it wet. But if you don’t feel like it’s there, it won’t be.”
Son Little, the singer and songwriter born Aaron Livingston, is the easygoing musical alchemist of our time. He is a conjurer, and much like those of his heroes Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix, his songs are deconstructions of the diaspora of American R & B. Deftly he weaves different eras of the sound—blues, soul, gospel, rock and roll—through his own unique vision, never forced, always smooth, each note a tributary on the flowing river of rhythm and blues. The currents empty into an estuary, and into this well water Son dips his bucket—trusting innately in the magic’s existence. And now, with his second full-length album, New Magic, he has delivered a profound statement, a cohesive creation that captures the diverse spirit of American music in a fresh and modern way.
Amigo the Devil
If you’ve ever heard a room full of people yelling “I hope your husband dies” in a some harmoniously sloppy, drunken unison, you’ve probably stumbled into an Amigo The Devil show. Danny Kiranos, better known to the masses as his musical counterpart Amigo The Devil, has been challenging the expectations of traditional folk, country music purists, and rock/extreme metal fans alike with his morbid, yet oddly romantic, take on folk that has amassed a dedicated and cult like fan-base. Despite being armed with only his vocals and a banjo/acoustic guitar, the live show is worlds away from what people expect of a folk show. Loaded with sing-alongs and an unsuspecting dose of humor to make otherwise grim topics accessible for fans of every genre, the songs remain deeply rooted in the tradition of story-telling that seems to be slipping away from the human condition.
Tonye Aganaba is a multidisciplinary artist, musician, and performer residing on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam & Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. They were born in London, England to parents of Nigerian and Zimbabwean descent, and raised in the picturesque seaside town of Weymouth, Dorset. At the age of 13 Tonye moved to Canada, first to Prince Albert, SK, then on to the city of Dawson Creek, BC .Upon graduation Tonye attended the University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre Program. Tonye’s style, like her gender, is fluid (or at the very least non-binary) – but can be described as Soul/Neo-Folk/R&B, and although unique – they have been likened to folx like Lauryn Hill, Ani DiFranco and Chaka Khan. Tonye is a Much More MusicVideo Award recipient, a steadfast fixture in their arts community – and the kind of singer/performer that turns heads wherever they go. In early 2015 Tonye’s trajectory was interrupted by a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, but the full stop came two years later, when a car accident on an icy back road in the Peace Region left their spine fractured in six places. All plans were waylaid as they lay bedridden and isolated for months. In the fall of 2017, Tonye parted ways with 604Records & Paquin Artists and set out on a journey of self-discovery and healing. In many ways, Tonye has had to start over, and they bear the scars to show it. They now refer to MS as the best thing that ever happened to them. A wake-up call offering a new lease on life and more importantly, a shift in perspective. Their purpose and vision are crystalline. To connect with audiences on a deeper level through intentional work, and to use their presence to foster meaningful dialogue within communities. They are not only interested in taking music and art to traditional venues but also into schools, community centers, hospitals, prisons, and boardrooms. Places where art can heal, start conversation, and maybe even…. make change.
There’s no counting the worlds Jeremie Albino has travelled to get to where he is today, and no telling which ones he might head to next. Born and raised in the bright and booming metropolis of Toronto, his heard led him out of the city and into Prince Edward County, where country living and a decade of working on farms gave him the time and space to hone his songwriting skills. His music nods to all manner of troubadours who rambled down similar paths throughout history – he nods slyly to the legendary blues singers who inspired him, offers a soft and insightful touch with his folk songs, and stomps and swaggers through soulful rock “n” roll. But Jeremie Albino is a natural and an original, created by an alchemy that favours, above all else, that most mysterious and coveted of qualities: heart.
Visit www.burnabybluesfestival.com for festival information.