Archive for T-Bone Burnett

Video Du Jour: Jeff Bridges

Posted in News with tags , , , on August 16, 2011 by 30daysout

Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges has a new self-titled album, out today. Über producer T-Bone Burnett twirls the knobs on this one, and it features two songs by the late Texas singer/songwriter Stephen Bruton, who also wrote some of the music for Bridges’ movie Crazy Heart.

In fact, the first single “What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do” is a Bruton composition and in this video Bridges is joined by fellow Oscar winner Ryan Bingham on vocals, T-Bone Burnett and Buddy Miller on guitar and bass player Dennis Crouch. No word on the identity of that dancing dude at the end.

Jeff Bridges official website

Live: Peter Case, Houston

Posted in Review with tags , , on June 29, 2011 by 30daysout

There’s no better way to wind up a sizzling summer workday than a couple cold beers and some free music down at Houston’s Cactus Music and Record Ranch. Tuesday we moseyed down there to hear a fine acoustic set from Peter Case, a singer/songwriter who spent time in rock bands like the Nerves and the Plimsouls before going solo in the mid-1980s.

He was in Houston to promote his new CD, The Case Files, a collection of demos, outtakes and other rarities from his 25-year solo career. The track listing combines full-band electric tracks with acoustic performances and features collaborations with many of Peter’s friends including Stan Ridgway, Eddie Muñoz and T-Bone Burnett.

At Cactus, he picked through some blues and rarities from his past, including a cool version of “Old Part of Town,” which was recorded by James McMurtry. Case sang the last few lines as he deepened his voice, imagining how Dave Alvin or Tom Russell would sing it – when it was done he dedicated it to McMurtry, Alvin and Russell.

He also pulled out a nice version of the Rolling Stones’ “Good Times, Bad Times,” which is on The Case Files. Afterward, as he signed a few CDs, Case promised he can rock out with an acoustic guitar and harmonica. “Once we get to stompin’, it rocks,” he said. I know he’s as good as his word.

Peter Case official website

YouTube: “The Case Files”

MP3: “Round Trip Stranger Blues”

Review: Is It New Or Is It Old?

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by 30daysout

Well, here we are almost to the end of summer 2010 … and we have a handful of new records that sound nothing like the summer of 2010.

Now I am a HUGE fan of Brian Wilson, and the Beach Boys – but I must admit Wilson’s new Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin leaves me kinda cold.   Wilson has said many times that George Gershwin is his all-time fave, and as a result Gershwin’s heirs have asked Wilson to create a tribute to the long-dead composer.   There’s no doubt that Brian Wilson’s genius ear for arrangement is still on-target, that’s obvious on the beautiful, accapella version of “Rhapsody In Blue” that opens and closes the album.  And “Summertime” (from the musical “Porgy and Bess”) with Wilson’s voice is just about perfect for this time of the year.  It’s on some of the other tracks where I get a little lost:  the instrumental “I Got Plenty O’ Nuffin’ ” sounds like a Pet Sounds outtake, and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” was better when it was “Little Deuce Coupe.”  Oh, this is all right I supppose, particularly if you’re more a fan of Gershwin than of Wilson.  In my case, I kinda wish Brian had devoted all this energy to writing some new songs.  Ah well, maybe next time.

Listen to piano demos Brian Wilson used to create songs for the new Gershwin album

John Mellencamp strips it all down and gets back to his “roots” with the new No Better Than This. Rather than reinterpreting old songs like Brian Wilson, Johnny Cougar’s done the opposite – he casts some freshly written tunes in “old” settings.  He visits Sun Studios in Memphis to cut a rockabilly tune, he records a bluesy tune in San Antonio’s Menger Hotel, where Robert Johnson recorded … you get the idea, right?  The title song manages to rock out,  and that Menger Hotel tune “Right Behind Me” manages to summon up the right amount of spookiness.  Complete with low-fi production from T-Bone Burnett, No Better Than This seems to be the right step for Mellencamp.

MP3: “No Better Than This” by John Mellencamp

Let’s go back even farther in time, say Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three.  The band’s Riverboat Soul could have been heard on a dark night along the Mississippi, circa 1933.  For lack of a better adjective, this is pure Americana – with heaping teaspooons of ragtime, bluegrass and back-porch blues.   Impeccably played and sung, the songs never break character for a modern-day wink and that makes Riverboat Soul all the better for it.

MP3: “La La Blues” by Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three

You gotta love YOSO, and not just for the name.  YOSO is made up of former members of Toto (singer Bobby Kimball) and Yes (keyboard player Tony Kaye and bassist/singer Billy Sherwood).  Elements is the band’s first album, and there are strong original numbers like “Path To Your Heart” and “To Seek The Truth.”  Kimball’s vocals are pretty solid, but on a few numbers he threatens to lose control; I think “Walk Away” could have been stronger with a few more takes.   In case you have a short memory, Elements comes with a second CD of live performances of a few of the new tunes and some Toto/Yes classics like “Hold The Line,” “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” and “Rosanna.”  Now this is classic rock!

MP3: “Walk Away” by YOSO

Video of the Week: Ryan Bingham

Posted in News with tags , on August 25, 2010 by 30daysout

Ryan Bingham is ridin’ high this year – this spring he won an Academy Award for “The Weary Kind” (from Crazy Heart) and this video, taken during an in-store performance in California, was taken just a day or two after the Oscar celebration.  Ryan performs “Hallelujah” from his new album Junky Star, produced by T-Bone Burnett and which will be released next week.

Ryan Bingham official website

Repost: On the Trail of the Hellhound

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2010 by 30daysout

(Editor’s Note: Recently John Mellencamp has been in the news, promoting his new album No Better Than This, which comes out in August.  He recorded a couple of songs for the new album in Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, where legendary bluesman Robert Johnson supposedly recorded some of his greatest songs.  We’ve been told repeatedly that nobody knows where the recordings really took place, and there is no explanation in the press material for the album how they identified this particular room.  But who cares, really – here’s our original post from 2008.)

Perhaps no musician is as influential as the bluesman Robert Johnson.  Supposedly he sold his soul to the Devil so he could play his guitar like no one else.  And maybe he did – his songs “Cross Road Blues,” “Love In Vain,” “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Dust My Broom” are part of the bedrock of American music.  Johnson’s songs have been covered by the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin, among many others.

His music comes from the heart of the Mississippi Delta where Johnson lived and played until he died in 1938 under mysterious circumstances.  However, his entire catalog was recorded in Texas, during two short sessions in San Antonio and Dallas.  The San Antonio sessions produced some of the songs listed above.  Writer Dave Marsh once said, “Has there been any other single recording session that produced music so beautiful, so tortured, … so historically resonant?  No.”

Johnson first recorded in November 1936 at San Antonio’s Gunter Hotel, located just a few blocks from Alamo Plaza.  Now called the Sheraton Gunter Hotel, it has a few more floors than it did in Johnson’s day but it is still a nice place.

Some years back, I decided to stay a few nights in the Gunter close to where Johnson cut some of his most famous songs.  I had long since replaced the hellhound on my trail with two rugrats on the back seat – so I took my family.

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Extra Early Video of the Week: Sahara Smith

Posted in News with tags , on July 26, 2010 by 30daysout

Sahara Smith is a 21-year-old singer out of the Austin area with a big future in front of her.  Her debut album Myth Of The Heart – coming out August 31 – is produced by no less than über producer T-Bone Burnett, who calls Smith “the best young artist I have heard in many years.”  As my wife’s grandpa used to say, “she’s also very easy on the eyes.”

Sahara Smith’s MySpace page

Diggin’ Up Some New Roots & Blues

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2009 by 30daysout

Ryan Bingham          flatlanders_hills_main

The most interesting music coming out right now could be classified as roots music – country-rock, Americana, folk-rock, blues, etc.  These artists may appear mainly on indie labels, or are big names trying to figure out a new hook but for the most part they are making some pretty good music.

Ryan Bingham, coming out of the wild west (New Mexico) and using Texas as his base, rocks on Roadhouse Sun, his third album.  Like on Mescalito, his breakthrough album from 2007, Bingham infuses his music with heavy doses of Rolling Stones/Black Crowes sensibility (Crowes guitarist Marc Ford produced this), and on “Change Is,” mixes in a dollop of Led Zeppelin. 

MP3: “Dylan’s Hard Rain” by Ryan Bingham

The Flatlanders may be a legend, but they’re also a band – and Hills and Valleys, their fourth official release, may be their best yet.  Kicking off with the brilliant “Homeland Refugee” and the voice of Joe Ely, this Texas trio kicks the Lone Star dust off their boots and range far afield with selections like “Cry For Freedom” but their words hit home and sound just right for today.  Highly recommended.

MP3: “No Way I’ll Never Need You” by the Flatlanders

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Review: “One Kind Favor,” B.B. King

Posted in Review with tags , , on August 28, 2008 by 30daysout

Hands down the best blues album of the year, and one of the year’s best in any genre, One Kind Favor is a triumphant return to form for one of American music’s classic artists.  At age 82, B.B. King returns to his blues roots and offers 12 covers of songs that influenced him in his early years.  Produced by T-Bone Burnett (John Mellencamp, Robert Plant/Alison Krauss), the album is certainly a highlight for the venerable King.  They tried to make it sound like an album recorded in the 1950s and the band – including Jim Keltner on drums, Dr. John on piano and Nathan East on standup bass – provides solid backup while not stealing the spotlight from B.B. and, of course, Lucille.  It’s tough to pick out highlights on an album this strong, but “Blues Before Sunrise” (from John Lee Hooker) has a nice groove and “How Many More Years” (Howlin’ Wolf) is a rousing stomper, while “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” (Blind Lemon Jefferson) bobs along with a jaunty second-line beat.   King’s not afraid to slow it down with “Get These Blues Off Me” or “My Love Is Down.”  Like Buddy Guy’s current Skin Deep, B.B. King has produced an unexpectedly strong album in his twilight years.  One Kind Favor is an essential addition to any serious collection of American music.  Highly recommended.

MP3: “Blues Before Sunrise”

MP3: “Get These Blues Off Me”

B. B. King official website

Review: “Life, Death, Love and Freedom,” John Mellencamp

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2008 by 30daysout

John Mellencamp comes around every couple of years with a batch of new material, whether you like it or not. The Indiana native has never been afraid to write and sing about what exactly is on his mind. In his three decades of hitmaking he has addressed the plight of the American farmer, the Iraq War, racial injustice and many other controversial subjects. On his latest, Life, Death, Love and Freedom, he ponders all of these subjects with the same vigor, albeit with lackluster results.

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Review: Roots Rockers

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2008 by 30daysout

Don’t know if you are going to hit the road this summer, but if you do don’t forget to pack a radio.  That would be a cheap entertainment addition for any $4-a-gallon road trip and if you avoid Clear Channel-owned stations you might get lucky and hear some new stuff.  While exploring America, try and explore “Americana,” usually found on the left side of the FM radio dial. 

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