Thursday, November 29, 2007

Duke Levine - "Beneath The Blue"

Yesterday I went to the mailbox and found an advance copy of Duke Levine's latest record, "Beneath the Blue". I met Duke while I was working at the Gibson Custom Shop and he was playing guitar with Mary Chapin Carpenter. This is his fourth instrumental solo album, the others being "Nobody's Home", "Country Soul Guitar" and "Lava". Fans of instrumental guitar music should have all of them, and you can hear some samples here.

All of Duke's records are benchmarks of superb guitar tone and tasteful playing. He never displays his considerable chops in a show-off manner, instead focusing on melody and phrasing. A master of Blues, Country, Soul and Rockabilly, he blends all of these into a potent brew of American Roots Music with a touch of Berklee Jazz finesse.

Duke in action

I like his taste in guitars and clothes...!

Me in action

Now, time to cue up Track 1 and go to school...!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Streets of Baltimore

I spent the last couple of days in Baltimore, for a LeAnn Rimes show at the 1st Mariner Arena. My friend Andy Rubin owns a book store, -The Baltimore Chop -and a glass-blowing company there, and is also co-owner of the 31 Tigers record label. We had a chance to hang out before, during and after the gig.

Diner was at the excellent The Brewer's Art, a brew pub housed in an old mansion. Great food (I had the steak with rosemary-and-garlic fries) and excellent beer. The downstairs is kind of a dark, dive bar. Cool.

After sleeping in a little too late (I was supposed to be there by 7:00a.m.), I walked the several blocks to the book store for coffee and a bagel. On the way I passed the Westminster church, which boasts the graveyard in which Edgar Allen Poe is buried. I snapped this photo.

I'm a fan of Poe's, especially the story "Hopfrog". He's the original Stephen King, certainly.

The coffee and bagel were perfect, and I dropped off 10 copies of "Good Samaritan", my wife's recent CD, for sale. Andy sells CDs, too, and has live music in his book store and does a good breakfast business.

After the gig, we went to a pizza place in the hood. Baltimore has become famous recently for the TV show "The Wire" which takes places in neighborhoods very near to where we were. Police cameras with blue lights are visible on several streetlight poles, but the weather was too cold for much street action while we were passing through. The pizza was very good, and the beer was even better. We then went to a nearby dive bar for a taste of National Bohemian beer, known locally as a "Natty Boh". Mass-produced by Miller/Pabst these days, but a fine beer just the same.

I liked Baltimore, and will be back there in April, with LeAnn opening for Kenny Chesney.

Thanks, Andy, for the tour!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Now Hear This

I'm on a hopefully brief hiatus from touring at the moment, just doing some local shows and weekend stuff with the fabulous Leann Rimes. Her band is excellent and she can really sing.

This gives me time to concentrate on my other job, which is Artist Relations for D'Addario. We had a busy week, with the CMA awards and a mini expo we held at Soundcheck, a local rehearsal hall. Met lots of new folks, saw lots of old friends.

Time off the road also allows me to check out new releases or older records I have missed. The latest squatters on my iTunes playlist are:

1) Rilo Kiley - "Under the Blacklight". Pure Pop, great arrangements, a tour through the different Pop styles of the past and an excellent recording.

2)Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - "Raising Sand". I tend to keep listening to the whole thing over and over. A different approach than either of their usual styles, and it works. Deft production by T-Bone Burnett and awesome guitar by Marc Ribot and Norman Blake.

3) Marc Ribot - "Don't Blame Me". See, buying one album makes you buy another... sometimes. Ribot's take on jazz standards is to paint them in a Delta Primitive Blue, with Teisco guitar tones and dissonant chord fragments - picture Lightnin' Hopkins playing The Real Book. Add to that a few noisy originals. Good for the days you want something terribly familiar to be deconstructed.

4) Various Artists -"Furry Selection". A collection of dub and reggae recorded mostly in the mid-'70's. Catchy and influential. I've been checking out Lee "Scratch" Perry lately, and he has several productions on this comp.

5) Aimee Mann - "Lost In Space". Abbey Road-style production from Jon Brion meets great songs and performances from Mann. They still make records like this..they just don't let anyone hear them.

6) David Bowie - "Heathen". Bowie gets David Torn on guitar and makes a superb album. Check out "Slip "Away". Twinkle, Twinkle, Uncle Floyd.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Wife

The fabulous Donna Beasley has been chosen as a finalist for the Independent Music Awards. Her album, "Good Samaritan" is up for Americana Album of the Year. This is exciting news, as the winner of the award gets a promotional boost and increased exposure. Putting out a record on your own, as we did, is easy enough as far as getting actual product. The hard part is getting exposure, and every little bit helps.

You can vote for Donna here.
Scroll down to "Americana" and click on "Rate This".

You can listen to cuts from the album here.