Amoeblog

Karen Dalton's Green Rocky Road

Posted by Miss Ess, August 14, 2008 05:27pm | Post a Comment
The past few days I have really been getting into the new Karen Dalton release, Green Rocky Road.
karen dalton
I am a big fan of Dalton's studio albums, It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You the Best (1969) and In My Own Time (1971). When I first heard them, they seemed like precious relics from the past. It also seemed unlikely anything else of hers would ever be uncovered and released, but now, just a few years later, there have been reissues and even video footage released!

Dalton's life story is very compelling. She seems to have lived on her own terms, with little compromise and a lot of eccentricity and self destruction. Basically, Karen was a free spirit. She was half Native American and grew up in Oklahoma. She married and had two kids by the time she was 21. She also played banjo and 12 string guitar. Dalton left her husband and moved to New York in time to take part in the early '60s Greenwich Village scene, playing clubs and hanging out with Bob Dylan and Fred Neil. Later, she moved north to Woodstock, where she was surrounded by a creative community that included her friends and sometime lovers The Band. Her two albums never sold well and she slipped into obscurity, heartbroken. Eventually, after a life of drinking and drug abuse, she died of AIDS in New York in 1993.

Her voice is unmistakable: a craggy, worn sound that cracks andit's so hard to tell who's going to love you the best karen dalton warbles its way through old folk standards. Green Rocky Road is a 1963 recording of Karen in her home, something never intended for release. Her sound lends itself to this type of setting and is only enhanced by the intimacy of the recording. Dalton slowly winds her way through the songs, taking her time and allowing her throaty voice to coat the jingle jangle of her banjo accompaniment. It's well-known that Karen hated being in the studio, and though her two official albums are extremely well worth seeking out, there is a certain pleasure, a palpable ease and comfort that the informed listener can wring from her voice in these home recordings that may be lacking from the studio records. It's also enjoyable to listen for the idiosyncrasies of the recording: her mother's voice, a phone constantly ringing, picking errors that simply serve to remind me of the organic nature of song. Dalton's voice is haunting and like no one else's.

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Last of the Blacksmiths Chat

Posted by Miss Ess, August 14, 2008 02:59pm | Post a Comment
last of the blacksmiths

Last of the Blacksmiths
are one of the most talented and moving bands here in the Bay Area.  Comprised of Nathan Wanta, Nigel Pavao and Bert Garibay, who play everything from mandolin to keys to guitar to drums, the band's sound rolls from The Band-like harmonies and depth to deep fried Southern- sounding funky interplay and heaviness. To check out their music, visit the band's Myspace page. Their latest record, Young Family Song, is available at Amoeba. I chatted with Napacific ocean blue dennis wilsonthan and Nigel recently about their visit to Levon Helm's farm, how Bikini Kill makes them cry, and the charm of a Wurlitzer.

Miss Ess: So, what have you been listening to lately?


NATHAN: Seems that this can change so drastically from day to day, but thinking of albums that I’ve listened to most in the past year or so, I’d say Allen Toussaint’s first three records probably win, followed by Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue, the Amazing Visions Black Fiction cd that Bert gave me,Terry Allen’s Juarez, Candi Staton’s Candi, Clifford Coulter’s, East Side San Jose, and I can’t leave out Eugene McDaniel’s Outlaw. Was pretty obsessed with the song “Cherrystones” for a while.  

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Just Farr A Laugh...earles and jensen present...the greatest prank phone calls ever...

Posted by Brad Schelden, August 14, 2008 12:44pm | Post a Comment
new-kids-on-the-block
This is another sad week for new releases, but it does come in waves. You just have to wait a couple more weeks for some great new albums. I really wish that just one label had decided to put out something good this week. It would have been really easy to get your album to the top this week. It would have also been really easy to get me to talk about your album this week. I just can't bring myself to talk about Daddy Yankee or David Sanborn. The number one selling album of the week will probably by the Jonas Brothers, who I am tempted to talk about. I guess they are sort of the "new" New Kids on the Block, so it is fitting that this week also sees the release of a greatest hits of the New Kids. They seem to be a bit more hip than the New Kids but I guess that it just because they are more up with the times. They wear tight fitting suits and drive the kids crazy. It will be interesting to see where these kids go in the next couple of years. It is weird to have to grow up in the public eye. One out of these 3 "brothers" is bound to have some trouble with the law, or at least some explicit photos show up in thejust-farr-a-laugh tabloids. The music offers absolutely nothing new or interesting, but I guess it serves its purpose. The tweens've got to listen to something. I guess there parents would rather them listen to the Jonas Brothers than Judas Priest, but I personally think that the Jonas Brothers might be more damaging.

I've got to go back a couple of months to find an album to talk about. I don't usually find myself listening to comedy albums. I especially tend to avoid "crank call" albums...but maybe I have been missing out. I put on a sampler album advance of this new album by Earles & Jensen a couple months back, but I really was not expecting very much. I listened to it on a Monday morning with my coworker. It was really early in the morning and I was barely awake, but we both could not stop laughing for the entire length of the album. I wanted to listen to it again. I couldn't wait for more Earles & Jensen. Luckily this was just a sampler and there would be a 2 CD version out soon. The album is actually a reissue of stuff that was out before. I had never head of them before, so I am happy this came out to a wider audience. This double CD Earles & Jensen present...Just Farr a Laugh: The Greatest Prank Phone Calls Ever Vol. 1 & 2 was released by Matador Records. The folks that brought you Belle & Sebastian and Cat Power have managed to put out the funniest comedy album ever! I seriously love this album and love introducing people to it. It is sometimes hard to convince people to actually pick up this album and give it a chance, but it is worth your time. You will never laugh more than this.

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FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS & LIVE A FULL LIFE: SUSIE WYSHAK

Posted by Billyjam, August 14, 2008 09:24am | Post a Comment
Susie Wyshak SuperViva.com
Meet Susie Wyshak. She believes in dreams. More importantly, she believes in chasing after and accomplishing those dreams in life. The San Francisco resident thinks that not only should everyone have a concise list of life goals but that they owe it to themselves to nurture and rigidly go after these dreams, no matter how ridiculous or far-fetched they may seem to the rest of the world.

So, being a woman of action, Susie decided to do something about this. A couple of years ago the LA transplant launched her website SuperViva.com where she encourages people to draw up "life lists" (kinda similar to the theme of that recent movie The Bucket List). Her goal is to inspire people to develop their inner goals in life (mostly dreams already in peoples' subconscious-- just not fully hatched & realized) and make a life list of these personal goals, and then one by one go about executing them.

Susie, an Amoeba fan and dedicated music lover (who "grew up during the great 80s punk era" in SoCal) already had her own life list but thought the web would be the perfect place for keeping a long list of ideas and tracking how they are developing: a way for herself and others to stay on track with their life lists by posting updates. When Susie meets people she gives them one of her SuperViva business size cards which encourage people to "LIVE A FULL LIFE" -- her mantra -- and she also invites them to "jot down their top dreams" which she hopes they will do, and perhaps post the results on her site. Recently she did something a little different -- she trekked around the Bay Area to cold interview strangers (a "brainstorming project" is what she called it) and posted the results on her site. I recently caught up with Susie to ask her about SuperViva, her own life goals, and, of course, music.

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Don Helms 1927 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, August 14, 2008 08:47am | Post a Comment


Don Helms
, steel guitarist and the last surviving member of Hank Williams' band, the Drifting Cowboys, died Monday in Nashville of a heart attack. He was 81. Helms played with Williams on and off for about decade, from 1943 until 1953 when Hank Williams died from just living too fast at the age of 29 on New Year's Day, in Canton, Ohio. Helms is featured on over a hundred Hank Williams recordings -- actually 104 to be exact. His steel guitar sound added a heart breaking mournfulness to many of Williams' ballads, songs like “Your Cheatin' Heart,” “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and “Cold, Cold Heart,” but Helms could also add a touch of playfulness on up-tempo tracks such as “Jambalaya” and "Hey, Good Lookin'."

Donald Hugh Helms was born Feb. 28, 1927, in New Brockton, Ala. He got his first steel guitar when he was 15, and by 18 he was playing with Williams in juke joints around the south. After serving in the army during World War II, Helms re-joined the Drifting Cowboys when Williams became a star on the Grand Ole Opry in 1949.

After Williams' death, Helms stayed in demand as a session player and went onto play on dozens of classic recordings such as Patsy Cline's “Walkin' After Midnight,” Lefty Frizzell's “Long Black Veil,” Ernest Tubb's “Letters Have No Arms,” and Stonewall Jackson's "Waterloo." Helms recorded with most every great Country-Western star of the day, including Ray Price, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Webb Pierce, Ferlin Husky, Chet Atkins, Cal Smith, the Wilburn Brothers, and Jim Reeves. According to legend, Helms wrote Brenda Lee's first number one hit “Fool Number One” in exchange for getting Loretta Lynn a recording contract with Decca Records.

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