Tag: Rockwood Music Hall

Musings: A Decade of JOVM

I started this site 10 years ago today. . .

There aren’t many things in my life that I’ve done for every single day for a decade that I’ve loved as much as this very unique little corner of the blogosphere. When I started this site, I  didn’t — and couldn’t — imagine actually having readers, let alone readers across the US, Canada, the UK, the European Union, Australia and elsewhere. After all, this sort of work is deeply rewarding and yet strangely isolating.

I couldn’t have imagined the over 1,000 shows I’ve covered all across the New York Metropolitan area. I definitely couldn’t have imagined it being possible for be to cover shows for JOVM in Chicago while on a business trip for a day job; nor would I have dreamed of the possibility of covering M for Montreal last fall.

I couldn’t have imagined being a panelist on a Mondo.NYC Festival panel on PR and promotion for indie artists.

I couldn’t have imagined having a cameo in a JOVM mainstay’s video several years ago. (It’s a noticeable and prominent spot towards the end of the video, too. No one has called me up for acting gigs, so I may need more work on that. Or I need to stick to the writing and photography!)

I couldn’t have imagined photographing Patti LaBelle, Snoop Dogg, Charles Bradley  Sharon Jones, Nile Rodgers, Roky Erickson, Philip Bailey and so many others, as well as this site’s countless mainstays.

What will the next decade hold? I don’t know. If you asked me that question last November, I’d probably discuss my the very real possibility of repeated visits to Canada for festivals like Canadian Music Week, Montreal Jazz Fest and M for Montreal — with the hopes of building a deeper Canadian audience. I’d talk about my interest in music from across the African Diaspora. I’d spend time talking about my interest in covering acts outside the US. I’d also speak about my interest in wanting to cover more artists across the diverse LGQBTIA+ community  — particularly those of color. I’d probably also mention my deep and abiding interest in covering women artists and women led acts.

Live music won’t be a thing for quite some time to come. And whenever it does, the landscape will be different — and something we’ve yet to envision. So far, beloved venues have been forced to close because of economics. That will continue for the foreseeable future. What will happen to bands, who no longer have a place to play, where they can hone their sound and their live show? Who knows? After watching an industry-based panel, I don’t feel particularly optimistic about things in the short term. Some of us will figure out a way to adapt and survive; others sadly, won’t.

But in the meantime, JOVM will continue. It’s only the first decade, as far as I’m concerned!

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I also wanted to talk a bit about some of my favorite albums of the past decade. This is by no means a comprehensive list; but I think that they might give some insight into the inner world of JOVM. And

Montreal-based DJ, production and electronic music artist duo The Beat Escape — Addy Weitzman and Patrick A. Boivin — can trace the project’s origins back to a short film they collaborated on when they were both in college. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” the Montreal-based said of their initial collaboration together in press notes. Interestingly, since that collaboration, Weitzman and Boivin have continued working together on a series of creative endeavors that have combined their interests in music and visual art, including a lengthy local DJ gig, which eventually led to the creation of The Beat Escape.

Released in early 2018, the Montreal-based duo’s full-length debut Life Is Short The Answer’s Long thematically and sonically found the duo returning to their origins — somnambulant, atmospheric art that feels like a half-remembered waking dream. Personally, the album’s material evokes a weird two-and-year period of international and domestic travel, in which I’d wake up in a hotel room and briefly wonder where I was, what time zone I was in and if I was even in the right place. Additionally, it evokes that weird sensation of everything being the fundamentally the same, yet different. If I’m in Grand Central Terminal, I think of Frankfurt-am-Main Hauptbahnhof and of Amsterdam Centraal Station. If I’m traveling underneath an elevated train, I’m reminded of the Chicago loop and so on.

I obsessively played Life Is Short The Answer’s Short through my time in Montreal. And now whenever I play it, I can picture specific locations, specific paths I took to get there, certain Metro stations with an uncanny precision.

Throughout the course of the site’s decade history, I’ve written quite a bit about Superhuman Happiness. The act has managed to survive through a number of different lineup changes and sonic departures necessitated by those lineup changes — and from the act’s core members following wherever their muses took them, Hands though is a joyous, mischievous yet deeply intelligent work that will make you shout and dance. Considering the bleakness of our world, this album may be much more needed than they ever anticipated.

Deriving their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a traveler, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spend his life then but who cruelly  gets dragged back to brutal reality, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake — currently Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass), Brendan Doherty (drums), and a rotating cast of collaborators, friends and associates — received attention with 2014’s self-released debut EP Dandelion, an effort that firmly established the act’s uniquely sound: deeply influenced by and indebted to  Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders, the Irish act pairs McAuley’s tender and soaring falsetto with cinematic arrangements and expansive song structur es.

Released in 2018, the act’s Rob Kirwan-produced debut Malingerer is an ambitious, challenging and breathtakingly beautiful work that’s part film score and part cosmic meditation, full of aching yearning.

A couple of years ago, I caught the Irish act play at Rockwood Music Hall, as part of the Lower East Side venue’s monthly Communion showcase — and their set was met with awed and reverential silence.

Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan — Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar) — have one of the most unique and perhaps most 21st Century backstories of any band I’ve ever written about: four of the band’s five members emigrated to Sweden from South America with the remaining member being the band’s only native Swede. With the release of their debut album, 2015’s Caballo Negro, the members of Sudakistan received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for crafting material that draws from Latin-tinged garage punk rock with lyrics sung in English, Spanish and Swedish. Interestingly, the alum is arguably hardest and most mosh pit friendly of the band’s albums to date, the album’s material found the band expanding their sound through the incorporation of non-traditional punk rock instruments — seemingly inspired by the band’s desire to make each of their individual roles to be much more fluid. . “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” the band’s Michell Serrano explains in press notes. . “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Additionally, the album’s lyrical and thematic concerns draws from the band members’ everyday reality with each individual member contributing lyrical ideas. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

The album’s material resonates in an age of divisiveness, xenophobia, fear mongering and strife because its an urgent and passionate reminder of what’s possible with cultural exchange, empathy and curiosity —  bold new ideas, new takes on the familiar, as well as equality for all with everyone’s story behind heard, understood and championed. One day that will happen but we will have to work our asses off to get there.

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New Video: Behind-the-Scenes with S.G. Goodman for “Old-Time Feeling”

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, I’ve managed to write a quite a bit about the rapidly rising Murray, KY-born and based singer/songwriter, S.G. Goodman. Born and raised near the Mississippi to a strict, church-going family of row crop farmers, Goodman went from singing and playing in church three times a week to becoming a prominent member of Murray’s DIY arts and music scene, as well as an impassioned voice and presence in the political and social movements she supports.

Initially slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records, Goodman’s im James-produced full-length debut Old Time Feeling has been rescheduled for a July 17, 2020 release as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Recorded at Louisville, KY-based La La Land Studio. which was specifically chosen by Goodman because it possessed her three favorite things — “a creek, a big porch and a kitchen” — the sessions were imbued with a familial and communal touch: Goodman cooked meals for the studio crew and her backing band, which includes lifelong friends Matthew David Rowan (guitar) and S. Knox Montgomery (drums).

Reportedly, the album’s material is a brutally honest, complex and deeply loving look at rural Southern life that debunks rural stereotypes while drawing from her own experiences as a gay woman and artist in a rural and deeply religious Southern community. Interestingly, the album also touches up on living with OCD, estrangement, reconciliation and loving your family and community although you might disagree with them on political and social issues.

Earlier this year, (which seems like a lifetime ago), I caught Goodman play her first New York Metropolitan area show at Communion at Rockwood Music Hall, and the set found Goodman and her band crafting a sound that meshed elements of old-school country, folk, Delta Blues and rockabilly centered around Goodman’s aching Kentuckian twang. Now, as you may recall I’ve written about the album’s two previously released singles. The slow-burning, country blues-like “The Way I Talk,” a brutally honest look at the plight and concerns of the rural farming community she has spent her life in. Much like every aspect of our daily lives, big business and their interests have acted in concert with politicians to exploit and destroy the lives, well-being and environment of everything and everyone within their path. And as a result, the song seethes with anger and defiant pride. The album’s second single was the sparse and atmospheric “Red Bird Morning,” a haunting song song that evokes tear-streaked and lonely drives across unending blacktop, torturing yourself by replaying the messiness of your life from 126 different angles. 

Old Time Feeling’s third and latest single, album title track “Old Time Feeling” is the album’s most rollicking and freewheeling track, as it draws from influences like rockabilly, early rock ‘n’ roll and Sun Records-era country. And while centered around an an anachronistic sound, the song seethes with the modern day frustration and desperation of the working (and barely getting by) poor. But it also subtly points out that we all live in a system that’s insane and sick — and has caused unnecessary hurt and poverty, just to keep a handful of people stay rich.    

Directed by Brandon Boyd, the recently released video for “Old Time Feeling” continues Goodman’s ongoing visual collaboration with the director. Featuring intimate, behind-the-scene footage of Goodman, her band, Jim James and the rest of the studio crew during the Old Time Feeling sessions, the video is an intimate look into the creative process — while reminding us that traditional recording and creation will be at a standstill until we can get a handle on COVID-19.                                                  

A Q&A with Jennifer Silva

Jennifer Silva is a Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter. Influenced by Stevie NicksAretha FranklinTori AmosThe Rolling StonesFlorence + The Machine and Alabama Shakes, the Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter has received attention for bringing a sensual and soulful energy to her live shows — and for lyrics that explore universal and very human paradoxes — particularly, the saint and sinner within all of us.

Silva’s debut EP was an EDM collaboration with DJ Sizigi-13 under the mononym Silva — but since the release of that effort, her material has leaned heavily towards singer/songwriter soul, rock and pop with 70s AM rock references, as you’ll hear on her most recent album, the Reed Black-produced Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth.

Silva’s latest single “I Wash My Hands” is a shimmering and gorgeous country soul/70s AM rock-like song centered around a fairly simple arrangement of guitar, bass, vocals and drums that’s sonically indebted to Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. Interestingly, the song was originally written as a weary lament over a major relationship that has come to an end – but the song manages takes on a heightened meaning, reflecting on a heightened sense of uncertainty and fear, suggesting that maybe Mother Earth is attempting to wash her hands of us.

The recently released video for “I Wash My Hands” was created during the mandatory social distancing and quarantines of the COVID-19 pandemic – and it features Silva, her friends, family, bandmembers and voice students, separated by quarantine but connecting through the song.

I recently exchanged emails with Jennifer Silva for this edition of JOVM’s ongoing Q&A series – and naturally, we chat about her new single and video, her influences –including her love of Stevie Nicks, and her songwriting process. Of course, with governments across the world closing bars, restaurants, nightclubs and music venues to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the impact on the music industry – particularly on small and mid-sized venues, and the touring, emerging and indie artists who grace their stages, has been devastating. Over the course of the pandemic, I’ll be talking to artists about how the pandemic has impacted them and their careers. And in this interview, Silva reveals that the much-anticipated follow-up to Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth has been rescheduled, with her and her backing band figuring out how to finish it with the use of technology. Then add lost gigs and the uncertainty of when you’ll be able to play or promote your new work, and it’s a particularly urgent and uneasy time. But the dedicated will find a way to keep on going on for as long as they can.

Check out the video and the Q&A below.

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Photo Credit: Paxton Connors

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WRH: Much of the world has been in quarantine and adhering to social distancing guidelines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. How are you holding up? How are you spending your time? Are you binge watching anything?

Jennifer Silva: The world is upside down right now and it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for me.  Shock, depression, anger, acceptance — feels like the stages of grief sometimes! I really miss my friends and my social life. Playing shows, my band. The good news though, is that my family and I are safe, healthy and well stocked. We left Brooklyn right before it got really bad and headed upstate. So, I’ve been in the woods, pretty secluded, with limited cable news (thankfully) and some great outdoorsy vibes all around me.  I’m very lucky and I really can’t complain. I’ve been spending the time connecting with my family, homeschooling my daughters, cooking, knitting, reading and writing songs!  We’ve been living a simple life these days and that’s actually a great thing sometimes. I just started watching Ozark on Netflix, finally, which is perfect for this quarantine! I’m always down for an epic drug/murder/survival story. Oh, and wine.

WRH: Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, festivals have been postponed or cancelled outright, artists of all stripes have postponed, rescheduled or cancelled tour dates. Most of the world has been on an indefinite pause. How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?

JS: This has got to be the hardest part of it all for me. I’ve also had to cancel shows, but, most significantly, literally one week before the pandemic really hit NYC, I was in the studio with my band and producer (Reed Black of Vinegar Hill Sound) tracking my next record.  We spent two full days laying down all the music and scratch vocals for 10 tracks, and I was so hyped and excited for the next two months of recording all the overdubs, lead vocals, background vocals and getting that final mix completed. Now, we must wait. Luckily though, we have the rough mixes to listen to and some of my band members are working on and planning overdubs at home. It’s frustrating but I’m still so grateful to have had those days in the studio. What we have already, sounds amazing!

WRH: How did you get into music?

JS: I’ve been singing all my life.  My father played guitar around the house throughout my childhood, and so at a young age I was singing classic rock and soul music to my family. “The House of the Rising Sun” (The Animals), “Bring it on Home to Me” (Sam Cooke) and “To Love Somebody” (Bee Gees) were my first covers!

I also went to Catholic school as a girl where the nuns always made me sing the solos at the Christmas and Easter performances. And of course, I was singing in Church every week. That really helped shaped me as a singer because I was taught to belt without shame because it was a “gift”, so I have always been a loud singer, haha. I’m not religious anymore (thankfully), but man, I love me some Church hymns! And there is nothing like the acoustics in a Cathedral.

WRH: Who are your influences?

JS: I have so many influences from so many different genres of music.  The Animals, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Lionel Richie, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and all of Motown were early loves of mine.

Then I had a whole Neo Soul moment, falling in love with singers like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Jill Scott. They definitely influenced me with their powerful female energy and style and the vocal choices they made. I also love 80’s and 90’s female badasses, like Tori Amos, Bjork, PJ Harvey, Hole, Garbage, Madonna and Annie Lennox. Artists with true points of view and the guts to say it.

I love Blues and Jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Etta James, Ray Charles, Lead Belly. Their emotional rawness and vocal prowess has always been a guide.

Singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Tracy Chapman, T. Bone Burnett, Dolly Parton, Rufus Wainwright and Joni Mitchell have helped shape my lyric writing and storytelling. I love Lana Del Rey as well.

Vocalists like Amy Winehouse, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Stevie Nicks and of course, Aretha Franklin will always be the pinnacle of greatness for me. These artists INSPIRE me.

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

JS: There is so much amazing music out right now. The talent level in this industry can be intimidating actually! Right now, we’ve been listening to a lot of indie rock and singer-songwriters like Marlon Williams and Aldous Harding, Töth, The Dø, Future Islands, Julia Jacklin, Sun Kil Moon, and Heartless Bastards.  And we are always playing The National and Arcade Fire. The Grateful Dead and Tom Waits are spun pretty regularly too around here. And of course, we’ve been listening to lots of John Prine since his recent passing from Covid-19.  What a loss.

WRH: I’ve probably referenced Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” more times than any other journalist in town. I think of a certain synth sound – and that song comes to mind. Plus, I love that song.

I know that Stevie Nicks is a big influence on you. What’s your favorite all-time Stevie Nicks song?

JS: One thing I really love about Stevie, which I read in her biography a few years ago (by Zoe Howe), and that I can totally relate to, was that she didn’t have any formal musical education. She just had her gorgeous melodies and emotional lyrics and really, just a simple catalog of basic chords.  Lindsey [Buckingham] would get frustrated with her because he’d have to finesse her songs so much to make them work. “Dreams,” for instance, only has 2 chords! But her songs were always their biggest hits. She tapped into an emotion and style and energy that people love and her voice is just absolutely unique and powerful. In a way, the reason she was so successful with her songwriting was because she wasn’t trapped in a musical box. She would write whatever she felt, and her uniqueness and melodies were memorable and beautiful. She inspires me so much! It’s nearly impossible to choose one favorite Stevie Nicks song, but I’ll go with “Edge of Seventeen.”  A close second is probably “Landslide.”

WRH: Your first release was an EDM-like collaboration with DJ Sizigi-13. Since then your sound has gone through a dramatic change. How did that come about?  How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with you and your sound?

JS: After my old band broke up in 2014, I was searching for new musical collaborations on Craigslist. I connected with Sizigi over email and we decided to make a song together.  One song led to four, over the course of a few months. I knew going in, EDM wasn’t going to be my personal sound forever, but I was down for the challenge of writing to existing beats and learning to record all my vocals at home with GarageBand. I bought a microphone and set up a vocal booth in my closet with towels on the doors to pad the sound.  I learned to edit. I love my lyrics and vocals on those songs, and I am very proud of the work I did. So, ultimately, I chose to have the record mastered and to release the 4 song EP independently. It was a stepping-stone for me.

The music I make now is all me though. I pen all of the lyrics and write the melodies on guitar, or sometimes I use my Omnichord (a vintage electronic harp/synthesizer from the 80s, which is AMAZING) and then my band brings it all to life!  My sound can be described as indie rock soul. I love the Alabama Shakes so that’s a decent comparison, I hope. The lyrics are evocative and dramatic, and the music is organic rock, but I always sing with soul. I also love to explore the saint and the sinner in all of us and tap into themes from my Catholic upbringing — like with “The Convent” from my last record Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth and “Purgatory Road” which will be on my next record. I am inspired by elements of the occult (tarot cards, following your intuition, voodoo) and I use nature and other metaphors to write about complicated relationships.

WRH: Rockwood Music Hall celebrated their 15th anniversary earlier this year. Sadly, during this century, existing 15 years as a venue in New York time is like 149 years. Rockwood Music Hall invited an All-Star list of artists, who have cut their teeth playing the venue’s three stages to celebrate. The bill that month included JOVM mainstay Anna Rose, acts that I’ve covered like Eleanor Dubinsky, Christopher Paul Stelling, The Rad Trads, Mike Dillon, Melany Watson, as well as Jon Baptiste. How does it feel to be included with those acts?

JS: It feels amazing! I am so lucky to have played a small part in Rockwood’s incredible history. It was an absolute honor to play the stage that night, and to join that list of talented artists. Rockwood Music Hall was the first place I ever played in NYC. I remember getting an early Saturday afternoon acoustic slot with my old guitarist and playing to a mostly empty room. It was still so damn exciting to me, the opportunity to play that famous stage.  Fast forward a few years later to my packed record release show on Stage 1 and then my graduation to Stage 2, last year. Rockwood has supported me since Day 1 and to help celebrate their anniversary, on the very stage where it all began for me, made me so proud!

WRH: Your Rockwood Music Hall set included a cover of one of my favorite Lead Belly songs ever “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” It’s one of those songs that for whatever reason doesn’t seem to be covered a whole lot. So, what drew you to the song? And how much does the blues influence you?

JS: I have been listening to Lead Belly for a very long time. I only knew his version of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” and never actually heard Nirvana’s version until many years later, which is what I think most people think of when they hear that song these days. I used to love singing that song in the car with my boyfriend. We each took a verse. It always seemed so chilling and powerful and it really tells a story that leaves you wanting more. You are right though, it’s not covered a whole lot and when we first tried in rehearsal, we knew it would kill. Everyone really responds to that one.

I generally gravitate toward big singers. Full voices filled with heartache and soul and you get that in spades with the Blues.  The Blues are rooted in emotion and that kind of expression comes naturally for me. Lead Belly and Big Mama Thornton are definitely my favorite blues artists, but I also really dig Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Son House, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Bessie Smith. I love how Bonnie Raitt, Larkin Poe and Gary Clark, Jr. are keeping that tradition alive and having success with Modern Blues too.

WRH: How do you know when you have a finished song?

JS: I know a song is finished when I love the melody and lyrics enough to play it over and over again, day after day and when I can get lost developing the vocal runs. A good sign is when my family really responds to it as well. I also think nailing the bridge usually seals the deal for me. That’s when I write over my penciled lyrics and chords, in my black, Papermate flair pen and make it final!

I’m not a person who usually tinkers on a song for years though.  I write most songs in a few hours, or a couple of days or maybe, up to a week. I like to capture the emotion of a sentiment and get most of it right and then move on to the next song. In all honesty, the best songs write themselves in 10 minutes! I actually wrote my new single “I Wash My Hands” quickly like that.

WRH: Your latest single “I Wash My Hands” and its accompanying video officially drops today. It’s a gorgeous country soul/70s AM rock song, a weary lament of someone who’s desperate to move on from a relationship or some other major life tie. You wouldn’t have known this at the time, but the song has an eerie double meaning that reflects our current moment of uncertainty and fear. Curiously, how does it feel to have written something that initially was supposed to be about something specific that suddenly transforms into something altogether different?  

JS: Thanks. I think the lyrics are very relatable for anyone in a long-term relationship who understands that compromise and respect are needed for a couple to survive and more importantly, thrive. But in this unprecedented moment in our lives, that can also be said about humans and our planet. Fear of Covid-19 leaves us all washing our hands like never before, so now, this track also invokes Mother Nature’s demand for more respect. She is also washing her hands of our abuse, forcing us all to pause while she shows us just how powerful she is. It’s humbling.

WRH: The video for the song is pretty intimate almost home video-like visual, as it features a collection of loved ones, including family and friends lip synching along to the song – while they’re in quarantine. How did you come about the concept? And how did it feel to have your loved ones participate in the video?

JS: Last week, my brother Chris and I were talking on FaceTime, about the need for interconnectedness even while social distancing. We thought about how lonely people are, even though we are Zooming and chatting on the phone, more than ever.

We thought it would be really special if I could get some of my friends and family to lip-synch parts of this song and create a montage. Video production resources are limited here in quarantine, but everybody has a phone with a camera and time on their hands!

The video is like being on a Zoom call but this one makes me feel so happy every time I watch it! It’s all my favorite people singing my song. People in Brooklyn, California, Detroit, New Jersey, New England, and even as far as Kenya! Everyone just really came through and had fun with this project, including my voice students, family members and close friends. People I haven’t seen in two months or more! I don’t know when I’ll see them again frankly, but the video makes me feel connected to them and I think it makes them all feel connected to each other. I love it so much.

WRH: What’s next for you?

JS: While I’m quarantined, I’m going to keep making art. Keep writing music. Keep singing.

I’m also going to continue to work on my next album. Right now, the plan is to release it in the Fall, so I’ve got shows to book and all the pieces in between to plan. Follow me on Instagram (@sheissilva) for all updates, single and video releases and of course, details about the album release party and tour dates.

Please stay safe and healthy, everyone. I’m sending vibes to you all. We will get through this. And I think we will be stronger for it. And don’t forget to keep washing your hands!

New Video: S.G. Goodman Releases a Brooding and Forlorn Visual for Haunting and Sparse “Red Bird Morning”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the rising Murray, KY-born and based singer/songwriter, S.G. Goodman. Born and raised in a strict, church-going family of row crop farmers, near the Mississippi River, Goodman went from singing and playing in church three times a week to becoming a prominent member of Murray’s DIY arts and music scene, as well as an impassioned voice and presence in the political and social movements she supports.

Slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records, Goodman’s Jim James-produced full-length debut Old Time Feeling was recorded at Feeling is slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records. Recorded at Louisville, KY-based La La Land Studio. which was specifically chosen by Goodman because it possessed her three favorite things — “a creek, a big porch and a kitchen.” The sessions were imbued with a familial and communal touch: Goodman cooked meals for the studio crew and her backing band, which includes lifelong friends Matthew David Rowan (guitar) and S. Knox Montgomery (drums). 

Reportedly, the album’s material is a brutally honest, loving and complex look at rural Southern life that debunks rural stereotypes while drawing from her own experiences as a gay woman and artist in a rural and deeply religious Southern community. Interestingly, the album also touches up on living with OCD, estrangement, reconciliation and loving your family and community although you might disagree with them on political and social issues. Now, as you may recall, I caught the rising Kentuckian play her first New York Metropolitan area set at Communion at Rockwood Music Hall, and the set revealed that album finds Goodman and her backing band crafting a sound that meshes elements of old-school country, folk, Delta blues and rockabilly paired with Goodman’s aching Patsy Cline-like vocals.

“The Way I Talk,” Old Time Feeling’s slow-burning, country-tinged blues-like first single subtly nodded at “Coal Miner’s Daughter” — in the sense that it’s a brutally honest look at the plight and concerns of the rural farming community she grew up in. Much like every aspect of our flies, big business interests have acted in concert with politicians to exploit and destroy the lives and well-being of everyone within their path, leaving the poor to fight the poor for limited resources and options. And as a result, the song seethes with anger and defiant pride. Centered around a sparse arrangement of strummed guitar, atmospheric electric guitar and Goodman’s aching vocals, “Red Bird Morning,” Old Time Feeling’s second and latest single is a haunting and forlorn song, full of regret, loneliness and of heartbreak fueled departures. The song evokes tear-streaked drives, endless blacktop and hours of your own thoughts, replaying everything that’s just happened from 126 different directions. 

Inspired by Goodman’s experience of volunteering at the Standing Rock protests, the song tells the story of her journey to the camp and the failed relationship she was leaving behind. “At a time when I was going through the wrong turns my failed relationship had taken, my mind was brought back to the roads that led me to Cannon Ball, North Dakota,” Goodman explains in press notes. “Through the imagery of that voyage, I was able to capture the feeling of a different forlorn journey. The Standing Rock Protest was a prayer protest, and upon arriving at the camp, my job was to help thaw out wood for the sacred fire. I remember being prayed over, and praying in my own way for the first time in years. The experience was transformative not only by joining others in a valid cause, but in what it sparked in my personal spiritual life.” 

The recently released video for “Red Bird Morning” was shot on an iPhone by Goodman and her friend Tim Johns, after the original shoot was canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Filmed a few days before stay at home orders were issued, the black and white video is shot in black and white and includes footage of bleak and empty landscapes, and in and around Goodman’s Kentucky home. And employ an interesting use of light and darkness, the video emphasizes the stark loneliness and aching regret at the core of the song. 

“It’s funny how the universe can have a heavy hand in making what was meant to be, happen,” Goodman says of the video. “In the same way the track itself, which is actually a demo, is bare and to the point, piecing together footage that fit the soundscape of the song became just another exercise of ‘less is often what is called for.’”                                                       

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the emerging Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, keyboardist and indie pop artist Sophie Colette. Colette initially relocated to New York to pursue fashion design, but she pivoted her ambitions to music after being scouted at a high school reunion by The Party Faithful‘s bassist. About a month after that, the Brooklyn-based pop artist found herself contributing vocals, keys and synths for the band and playing with the band at venues across the New York Metropolitan area. During that same period, she met Degraw Sound producer Ben Rice, who she later presented with a stack of sketchbooks filled with lyrics and visual palettes, which became the genesis of her solo work.

Now, as you may recall “Tonite,” off Colette’s debut EP Strangers and Lovers was featured at Jasmine Chong’s runway presentations to the editors of VogueWWD, Elle and others during New York Fashion Week 2017. Selected footage from her Stephen Dirkes-directed music video for “Get Close” was nominated for Best Creative Concept, Art Direction and Visual Effects at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival. And building upon a growing profile, Colette supported Strangers and Lovers with a European tour with Berlin-based indie-folk project The Crystal Elephant.

Since then, Colette has released a handful of shimmering pop singles that have caught the attention of the blogosphere, including my dear friends and colleagues at Glamglare, Adam’s World Blog,  as well as receiving airplay on French radio station Déclic Radio 101.1FM. Last year, I wrote about one of those singles ““Would You Like It?,” a dreamy pop confection centered round shimmering synths and Colette’s achingly vulnerable vocals.  The Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and keyboardist began this year with a live set at Rockwood Music Hall that featured her gorgeous chamber pop rendition of Cheap Trick’s smash hit “I Want You To Want Me.

Interestingly, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s first bit of original music of this year finds her collaborating with highly-regarded New York-based singer/songwriter, electro pop artist and producer Julie Kathryn, best known for her solo recording project I Am Snow Angel. The end result is the minimalist and ethereal “In Love a Little.”  Centered around atmospheric synths and electronics, twinkling synths and Colette’s vulnerable vocals, the song manages to sound otherworldly while evoking the swooning pangs of a new crush that has begun to turn into love. 

“I met Julie at her Mothership album release show at National Sawdust in January 2019. I didn’t know anything about her prior to the show, and was pretty floored by her exploration of sound, the choreography of her set and accompanying visuals, and her overall vibe,” Colette recalls in a lengthy statement. “I resonated with her spirit and felt a bit of a kinship even as I was watching from the audience. After her set I felt compelled to say ‘hi’ and introduce myself, even though I was intimidated as she was swarmed with other guests and press. She was so warm, gave me a big hug, and suggested I reach out to her to chat soon. It was that simple.

“A few days later I already had ‘In Love a Little’ in mind that I wanted to send to her, hoping she would want to produce it. It had been sitting in my collection of demos for a while and I hadn’t landed on a producer for it. My vision of the song was to have a supernatural slant, ethereal and romantic and weird, which would require a different sonic approach than what I’d done before with other producers. Luckily she loved the demo and we started collaborating.

Working with Julie was an amazing experience – it was very hands on and communicative. We sat side by side and made decisions together, from the tracking to the comping to the mixing. I learned so much about Ableton and the possibility of different soundscapes that could be created outside of traditional instrumentation.

“It became apparent to me that working with a female producer, who inherently applied these types of sounds to her own work, came with the advantage of being able to feel the same nuances of emotion without having to explain them to each other. Each session was an open-ended conversation, and quite nurturing to be honest. Something about that female-to-female energy in a room is really powerful when the ego isn’t there. Not to throw shade at any of the amazing male producers and engineers I’ve worked with, but there’s almost a different quality of ‘safe space’ and freedom when working with a female producer. I felt comfortable to be totally vulnerable and emotional all around, without feeling self-conscious of my sensitivities.

I find it hard to explain in words beyond that…perhaps the best way is to say, ‘girl power’ ? :)”

New Video: S.G. Goodman’s Intimate and Cinematic Look at Southern Rural Life

S.G. Goodman is a rising Murray, KY-born and based singer/songwriter. Born and raised in a strict, church-going family of row crop farmers, near the Mississippi River, Goodman went from singing and playing in church three times a week to becoming a prominent member of Murray’s DIY arts and music scene, as well as an impassioned voice and presence in the political and social movements she supports.

Her forthcoming Jim James-produced full-length debut Old Time Feeling is slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records. Recorded at Louisville, KY-based La La Land Studio. which was specifically chosen by Goodman because it possessed her three favorite things — “a creek, a big porch and a kitchen,” the Old Time Feeling sessions were imbued with a familial and community touch: the Murray-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist cooked meals for the studio crew and her backing band, which includes her lifelong friends Matthew David Rowan (guitar) and S. Knox Montgomery (drums). The album is reportedly a brutally honest, complex and loving look at rural Southern life that debunks rural stereotypes while while thematically drawing from her own personal experiences as a gay woman in a rural and deeply religious Southern community and touches upon living with OCD, estrangement, reconciliation and loving your family and community although you might disagree with them on political and social issues. And from her Rockwood Music Hall, Communion set last month, the album’s material is a slick and seamless synthesis of old-school country, Delta blues and rockabilly centered around Goodman’s aching Patsy Cline-like vocals.

Old Time Feeling’s first single “The Way I Talk” is a slow-burning and sultry country-tinged blues centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars, explosive peals of feedback, dramatic and forceful drumming and Goodman’s plaintive, Western Kentucky drawl. Much like “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which “The Way I Talk” subtly references, the song is brutally honest look at the plight of the rural working class — in particular, the rural farming community she grew up: indeed, much like every other aspect of our lives, big business in concert with politicians have managed to exploit and destroy the lives and well-being of everything within their path, leaving the poor to fight the poor for limited resources and options. And while, the song is seethes with anger, there’s also defiant pride — in the fruits of hard and honest labor, of owning a piece of land and being able to pass it down to family, and so on.

“The song is inspired by the plight of the farming community in Kentucky where I grew up, where big business and the laws that protect them have vast control over my community,” Goodman told The Fader. “It is a scary thing calling into question the very thing that put food on my table and is putting food on my niece’s table (she plays the little girl in the video). Isn’t that the case for every person working a factory line who is afraid to unionize? Or a fast food employee afraid to take sick leave to care for her kid? We are all expected to be thankful, not question, and shut our mouths.”

Directed by Brandon Boyd, the recently released video for “The Way I Talk” is a cinematic and intimate look at rural Southern life that follows Goodman and her family through a day in their lives: while they tend to the little ones, there’s a sense that the adults recognize that their way of life is rapidly becoming unsustainable and will disappear, no matter how hard they fight.

Live Footage: Yola Performs “I Don’t Want to Lie” on “The Late Late Show with James Corden”

With the release of her critically applauded, Grammy Award-nominated, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, the Bristol, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola had a highlight-filled, breakthrough year last year. Some of those highlights included: 

playing a breakout performance at this year’s SXSW
making her New York debutat Rockwood Music Hall
playing a live session for YouTube at YouTube Space New York
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas.
making her late night national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! 
releasing a soulful cover of Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” that’s not only a staple of her live sets — but caught the attention of Sir Elton John himself, who praised the rapidly rising artist and her cover. 
2020 looks to be an even bigger year for the JOVM mainstay. It was recently announced that she’ll be playing blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama Elvis alongside Austin Butler in the title role Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother. Earlier this week, the Bristol-born, London-based JOVM mainstay finished her first Stateside headlining tour.  Adding to a busy year, Yola will be opening for country superstar Chris Stapleton during through a run of arena shows that includes an October 10, 2020 stop at Madison Square Garden. She’ll also be opening for the Black Keys during their summer amphitheater tour, which includes an August 26, 2020 stop at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, out in Wantagh, NY. Additionally, she’ll be playing Echoes Through the Canyon with  Brandi Carlile. Along with that, she’ll be making festival appearances in Australia and at this year’s Bonnaroo. (Check out the tour dates below.)

Earlier this week, Yola made an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, where she played album bonus track “I Don’t Want to Lie,” which managed to be a perfect showcase of her seemingly effortlessly soulful and powerhouse vocals.