Genre Archives: Bluegrass

Porter Union

PORTER UNION

Porter Union, led by husband and wife, Cole Michael Porter and Kendra Porter, is the result of the two old souls spending the better part of the last decade traveling the country together to play their music everywhere from the dive bars and honky tonks to festivals and theaters. When you hear the story of Cole and Kendra meeting in a hometown bar, falling in love while writing and playing together, it sounds like fairy tale built by corporate music row. Luckily, that’s where the comparison stops – you won’t find overproduced, cliche filled songs here. Their honest approach to songwriting combines raw emotional themes with a traditional country sound to bring the listener into the story. It’s no surprise they’ve shared a stage with a variety of notable artists including Cody Jinks, Jason Boland & the Stragglers, Whitey Morgan, and David Allan Coe.

With a vision to create a relatable album with a touch of nostalgia, the couple teamed up with producer Joshua Thompson in January 2017. Thompson, who is also the bassist for Cody Jinks, gained notoriety as a producer after taking the lead producer role on Jinks’ latest record ‘I’m not the Devil’. The self-titled album is set to release in June 2017 and you’ll find Porter Union out on the road the rest of the year with tour dates as far west as California and east of the Mississippi over the next year. 

w/ Special Guests JONATHAN PARKER + HALLE KEARNS

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

REVEREND PEYTON’S BIG DAMN BAND

Southern Indiana-bred singer-guitarist Reverend Peyton is the bigger-than-life frontman of Reverend Peytons Big Damn Band. He has earned a reputation as both a singularly compelling performer and a persuasive evangelist for the rootsy country blues styles that captured his imagination early in life and inspired him and his band to make pilgrimages to Clarksdale, Mississippi to study under such blues masters as T-Model Ford, Robert Belfour and David Honeyboy Edwards.  

bigdamnbandwoodThat passionate inspiration has made Reverend Peytons Big Damn Band Americas foremost country blues outfit and fuels the Revs new release, The Front Porch SessionsPeyton’sdazzling guitar mastery is equaled here by his knack for vivid, emotionally impactful songwriting, and his originals are matched in their authenticity by the deeply felt vintage blues tunes that he covers. The album showcases the Revs irrepressible personality while echoing the enduring spirit of such acoustic blues icons as Charlie Patton, Blind Willie Johnson, Bukka White and Furry Lewis, whose When My Baby Left Me receives a memorable reading.

The Front Porch Sessions will be released March 10, 2017 on Family Owned Records/Thirty Tigers.

It started as a literal whim on my part, but it turned into something really special, Reverend Peyton says of this new collection. I wanted it to feel like youre on my front porch. You can almost hear the wood creaking.

The Front Porch Sessions maintains a potent level of intensity throughout, from the upbeat optimism of the album-opener We Deserve aHappy Ending to the blunt slice-of-life rural reality of One More Thing to the rollicking, playful swagger of Shakey Shirley, One Bad Shoe and Cornbread and Butterbeans.Meanwhile, the instrumentals Its All Night Long and Flying Squirrels demonstrate the Revs nimble, imaginative guitar work.

I didnt have much planned when I went into the studio,” the Reverend notes. went into the studio with some new songs and some old songs that Ive always wanted to try. At first, I thought Well, maybe well make it a download or release a single. But it took on a life of its own, and when it was all said and done, I was as proud of it as anything Ive ever done. To me, it was a lesson in not overthinking things; I just went in and let my gut guide me.

We recorded this album at a studio called Farm Fresh, which is right down the street from my house,” he continues. “Its in the shade of the oldest poplar tree in Indiana, and theres a graveyard next to it and train tracks run across there.  In fact, I think you can hear the train on one track on this record. The studios in an old church, and the main sanctuary is the tracking room, so the haunting reverb that you hear is that room.  

We used a lot of vintage gear in the recording. I love that organic sound, and Im always chasing that in everything I do.  I just like things that feel timeless. Feeling timeless to me is way more important than feeling old. When you try to make something sound old, youre trying too hard.

That lifelong pursuit of musical authenticity was instilled in his musical consciousness while Peyton was growing up in rural Indiana, where his early love for blues, ragtime, folk, country and other traditional styles gave him a sense of direction that would soon manifest itself in his own music. He and the Big Damn Band won a large and loyal fan base, thanks to their tireless touring efforts and high-energy showmanship, along with such acclaimed albums as Big Damn NationThe Gospel AlbumThe Whole Fam DamnilyThe WagesBetween the DitchesSo Delicious and the Charlie Patton tribute disc Peyton on Patton

Despite his prior achievements, the Rev views The Front Porch Sessions as a personal creative milestone. 

This records very personal for me, because so much of it is just me, he says. The Big Damn Band is on there, but its mostly me. Breezy (Breezy Peyton, washboard) plays washboard on a couple of songs, and Max (Maxwell Senteney, drums) plays a suitcase drum set that we put together in the studio. Its a snapshot of the week we spent in the studio, but it also represents a lifetime of me building up to it.”

The Front Porch Sessions has also spawned a series of audio-véri companion videos, many of them shot on the Revs actual front porch, that embody the albums intimacy and immediacy.  A lot of these songs started on the porch, and thats what the videos are, he says. Id be pickin and go, I like the way this sounds, let me get my camera.’”

Reverend Peyton has already begun to integrate The Front Porch Sessions spare approach into the Big Damn Bands expansive live shows, which are renowned for their intensity and abandon.

In a lot of our shows in the past few years, well take a break and Ill come out and do a song or two by myself, he explains. That brings things down and allows me to do some songs like this.  Were definitely gonna be doing more of that, so theres definitely gonna be moments in the shows where youre gonna hear a lot of these songs. We may also do some Front Porch Sessions shows, and maybe present some of our other songs in a more stripped-down way. We did one earlier this year as kind of a test, and that worked really well.

Over the years, our shows have gotten more dynamic, he continues. The ups are more up and the downs are more down. Thats something thats important to me. If I go and see a show and someones just standing there and staring at their feet and singing their songs, I feel insulted. Thats not a performance. I want to know that youre living that song, not just regurgitating it. I dont think artists should seem like theyre too cool for their audience.

The Revs dedication to delivering the goods on stage is reflected in his flamboyant performance personaThe Rev is me, he states. Sometimes that freaks people out, because the person whos on stage is exactly the way I am offstage. I dont know how to separate myself from my music, because its so personal to me. My mom calls me Rev; its been my nickname since I was a teenager. It was a name that was given to me by some friends, and it sort of stuck.

Im one of those people who feels everything really hard, for better or worse, he continues. If Im angry, Im really angry. If Im sad, Im really sad. If Im happy, Im really happy. So onstage, I tap into that. There are certain songs that I cant play on some nights, because theyre just too sad. That may be the rantings of a crazy person, but its the Gods honest truth.

With The Front Porch Sessions showcasing his expanded musical palette, Reverend Peyton is excited about bringing his new music to his fans.

I really think its one of the best things Ive ever done, he asserts. Im interested in making hand-made American music, and the goal is to be timeless.

 

w/ Special Guest THE FLOOD BROTHERS

The Lone Bellow

For fans of The New Basement Tapes, Mandolin Orange, Dawes, Rayland Baxter, The Avett Brothers 
It’s been six years since The Lone Bellow was first formed by Zach Williams, multi-instrumentalist Kanene Donehey Pipkin and guitarist Brian Elmquist. But one only needs to get the lead singer and guitarist speaking to their songwriting process to witness firsthand just how passionate he remains about its teeming creativity. “It’s a beautiful process,” the effusive singer says of the almost epiphany-like manner in which the band typically translates its vivid ideas to melodies and lyrics. “You’re trying to figure out exactly what it is you’re trying to say. And then, ‘Bam! Lightning strikes, everybody’s in the room, and it’s like the heavens open. Suddenly you’re able to write a song.”
 
The Lone Bellow, which also now includes Jason Pipkin on keys/bass, has long nurtured a deep and highly personal connection with their music. But with Walk Into A Storm, their third studio album, due onSeptember 15 via Descendant Records/ Sony Music Masterworks, the band turned inward like never before. “We covered such a broad range of emotion on the album,” Elmquist says of the raw, intimate and undeniably soulful Dave Cobb-produced LP recorded in Nashville’s famed RCA Studio A. The 10-track album, Elmquist says, is centered on “the human condition and how you’re trying to connect with it,” and with stunning tracks including “Is It Ever Gonna Be Easy?” and “Long Way To Go,” it features some of the band’s most poignant material to date.
 
When creating the follow-up to 2014’s cherished Then Came The Morning, the band confronted — and ultimately overcame — a host of personal obstacles: not only did all the members and their respective families work through a relocation from New York City to Nashville, but on the day they were to begin recording the album Elmquist entered a rehab facility for issues stemming from alcohol abuse. “There’s a thousand different ways this could have gone down but it’s the way it did,” says Elmquist, says the tumultuous experience helped “put what we’re doing in perspective.” “I got to see the love and friendship we have for each other in action. I’m thankful.”
 
“Our band was the receiver of a lot of grace and kindness from the music community,” Williams adds, citing peers and industry folks offering words of encouragement as well as the non-profit MusicCares greatly aiding in the costs of the guitarist’s treatment.
 
Elmquist’s situation presented a logistical challenge for the band — they now had nine days to record instead of the pre-planned 20. But as Pipkin notes, the sacrifice “paled in comparison to what we have with each other. Without our friendships we don’t have anything,” she says. “That’s the reason we do this. To forge ahead without taking care of each other doesn’t work. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
 
 
Working with the notoriously no-nonsense Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell), was a richly rewarding process. It was also one that helped the band kick out the jams in short order. “There’s no real bells and whistles,” Elmquist recalls of Cobb’s no-frills recording process. “You go practice a song, play it, record it and put it on a record.”
 
The results are stunning: from the orchestral, uplifting “May You Be Well,” to “Long Way To Go,” a beatific piano-anchored ballad Elmquist wrote while in rehab; and “Between The Lines,” a harmony-drenched sing-along Williams says acts as both a letter to Elmquist and an exploration of the push-pull of drawing art from pain.
 
“There’s this lie that the only good and worthy art that can be made has to come from tragedy and darkness,” Williams offers. “And I get it. But it doesn’t only have to come from that. It can also come from joy and gratitude.”
 
And that’s exactly what The Lone Bellow is full of as they look to the future. The band kicks off an extensive tour on September 21st with Central Park’s Summerstage supporting The Head and the Heart. And as they crisscross North America they’ll have a new member in tow. “‘How early is too early to teach a child how to tune guitars?’” Pipkin, whose newborn son will be joining them on the road, asks with a laugh. “It’s going to be really exciting and different.”
 
Williams seems nothing short of in awe of where life has taken him and his band. The process that led to Storm, the forthcoming tour, the deepening of bonds with his band mates — it all adds up to The Lone Bellow “becoming even more like family,” he says. “I just love being able to have that opportunity with these friends.
 
The singer pauses, and with a supreme sense of contentment in his voice, notes proudly of his band mates: “They’re pretty good musicians. But they’re truly amazing people.”

 

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