The recipient of 2013's International Bluegrass Music Awards Momentum Award for Band of the Year, Town Mountain, will release their new album, Southern Crescent, April 1st . For this new project, the five-some - Robert Greer [vocals and guitar], Jesse Langlais [banjo and vocals], Bobby Britt [fiddle], Phil Barker [mandolin and vocals], and Nick DiSebastian [bass] - worked with producer Dirk Powell at his Cypress House studio in Louisiana to produce a collection of soulful, raw and energetic roots-grass tunes. In advance of the release, Jesse Langlais kindly took the time to talk about working with Powell, finding their sound and more.
Southern Crescent is your fifth album and it seems like you guys did some things differently with this one, like working with producer Dirk Powell. Why did you want to work with him, and what did he bring to the project?
During the initial planning of the album, we were trying to figure who we wanted to produce it. We play bluegrass, but our influences run much deeper than that. We wanted someone who understood all of the musical genres we loved and who was considered more of a roots musician and producer as opposed to someone who was just a bluegrass musician or producer. Dirk’s name kept coming up, and he was the one we unanimously decided upon. We all really respect him, and thought he would understand our music maybe more so than other people.
I think our influences as well as other elements are really incorporated in this record. Too often bluegrass is just “sit down, be polite and listen to it” music, and that’s certainly not who we are or who the band is, especially at a live show, and we wanted to convey those ideas on this project.
At 22 years old Dylan Jakobsen has been making a name for himself playing fairs and festivals, supporting artists such as Dierks Bentley, Gary Allan, Parmalee, and more. On March 15th, the Seattle native released his first full-length album, From Where I Began, which was mixed and mastered by Billy Decker. Jakobsen kindly took the time to call to talk about the album, his new single “Silverado,” and more.
You’re 22 years old, was music something that you always wanted to pursue?
I started playing guitar at eight years old when my dad and I picked it up as a hobby. I kind of stormed past him and really never saw myself doing anything else. By the time I graduated I knew I wanted to do music full time and for the past year and a half, I have been seeing where it takes me.
Growing up in Seattle, was it always country music you gravitated to or did you start out playing another type of music?
I grew up on rock, Springsteen, and Skynyrd. As I got older, I grew to love the storytelling in country music which is something that stuck with me and is a part of this country rock fusion my music is now.
Originally from Houston, but now calling Nashville home, singer-songwriter Olivia Lane is doing things her way. Last year, the independent artist released a thirteen song acoustic mix-tape titled Heart Unlocked, and gave it to her fans....for free! Garnering accolades from Rolling Stone Country, People and Entertainment Weekly, her new single, "Make My Own Sunshine" was selected for iHeartRadio's Digital Integration program in January. With a personality as big and bright as her voice, Lane graciously took the time to chat about the single, her roots and more.
You went to college for theater, then started songwriting and moved to Nashville. Where does singing fit in, was it something you were doing all along or was the initial goal to be a songwriter?
I think I have had a really interesting journey as an artist. I was an artistic kid from the time I was six years old: singing, dancing, acting, and playing piano and guitar. I was in the church choir and my Mom, who was a regional Texas country singer, would take me to the studio and karaoke bars to get me involved. Then when Taylor [Swift] came out I was like ‘Wait you can do this as a career?!’ I knew I needed to move out of Houston and either wanted to go to LA, New York or Nashville. So I moved to LA my last year of high school because I was conflicted as to what art to do, and in LA, I figured that I could try acting and music. I majored in theater in college, but freshman year I took a songwriting class and the lightbulb went off. I would continue school and spend my summers during college in Nashville interning and meeting people. It’s crazy that it’s only been two and a half years; I feel like it’s been an exponential process, and I am really blessed to be surrounded by good people who taught, and continue to teach, me lessons as an artist.
One of those people is your producer Ilya Toshinsky. Is he both friend and mentor?
Ilya was in a country band in Russia called the Bering Strait Kids. They came to the U.S., but didn’t quite take off; he became a session player and has played with everyone from Luke Bryan to Kacey Musgraves. I wanted to find a producer who would grow with me and get to know me personally, not someone who would just come in, I’d pay him money, and he’d hand me a product. Ilya was interested, so we did a couple demos and it worked. I love his ideas and I love that we have this cool collaboration going on. I’ve also been working a lot with Aaron Scherz [“Girl In A Country Song”]. We have sort of a tripod of co-producing madness going on (laughing).
Originally from Kentucky, Dan Johnson began playing music as a teen, but put his dreams on hold to raise three daughters as a single father. With encouragement from his now grown children, Johnson set off to follow those dreams again in 2013 when he formed Dan Johnson and the Salt Cedar Rebels. Since then they have been gaining fans all over Texas where they have opened for Randy Rogers, played the Dallas Stars New Year’s Eve Bash and San Antonio’s ZiegenBock Festival. From the road during a long drive, Johnson kindly took the time to talk about his current single, “This Is How We Texas,” upcoming music and more.
Before we delve into the music, can you give us some background as to what spurred your love of music and why you returned to it after years away?
I grew up on a farm in Kentucky, right down the road from Hazzard, and many of the people working on the farm played an instrument. We didn’t have television most of the time, but we had music and that became a big part of my life. My Dad loved southern rock like Marshall Tucker and Lynyrd Skynyrd while my Mom loved Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. And of course being in Kentucky I heard a lot of bluegrass and outlaw country. My Dad passed when I was ten and I didn’t pick up a guitar again until I heard “Tears In Heaven”, which just ripped my heart out. I needed to learn to play that on the guitar and no sooner did I do that than I got involved in music at school and then was out playing shows. At eighteen, I had a daughter and got married. My wife hated me playing music, so I put it away until my kids were grown [Johnson has three daughters]. My oldest daughter, as well as a girlfriend at the time, encouraged me to pick it back up again, so I put a band together [the Salt Cedar Rebels]. We played our first band show on September 22nd, 2013 and have been doing this ever since.
Originally from Texas, but based in Nashville since 2014, Hudson Moore’s songs are firmly rooted in country though they’re equally influenced by other genres, like rock, pop and the blues. In 2012 his single "Fireworks" climbed atop the Texas charts where it remained for two weeks, ultimately being the 7th most played song at the end of the year. Now, multi-instrumentalist Moore returns with new music from an upcoming project that is poised to take him and his music well beyond the Lone Star state. Moore kindly took the time to talk about his new songs, his ever expanding fan base and more.
You’ve been playing music since you were a teenager, but studied film in college. When did you decide then to pursue music professionally?
I moved to Austin to attend UT where I studied radio, tv, and film. All the while I was writing songs and playing music, but it wasn’t anything I did professionally. The summer after sophomore year, I released my debut record, Fireworks, and in the Fall, I put a band together and things just took off from there. I played festivals and venues around the state to the point where I had to make the decision to stay in school or pursue this dream full time. I took the semester off and just tore up the highway playing every weekend ....and haven’t looked back since. I consciously made the decision to go for it and I don’t regret it for a minute; I can’t see myself doing anything else.
Being from Fort Worth you definitely have that Texas feel to your music, but you also bring in that contemporary sound into your songs; particularly on these two new ones, which remind me of Keith Urban. Is that a pretty fair assessment?
That’s definitely fair. Keith Urban is one of my biggest influences as far as mainstream country acts. My influences are all over the map from B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Allman Brothers and, of course, many Texas artists, but as far as contemporary country Keith is one of my favorites, so I appreciate you hearing that.
In January, you released a brand new song, “Sand in the Bed” which is pretty romantic. Is there a story behind the song?
I hadn’t put out new music in about a year and “Sand in the Bed” is sort of the leak for the project. It is a honeymoon song that I wrote with JT Hodges and Andrew Petrov. I had the title and we went into the write with our wheels spinning and walked out with something we were all excited about. I’m happy it’s the first song to introduce people to the new project.
Andrew Adkins' songs have been hailed by critics from No Depression and Maverick UK as "one of the most original styles in the last decade" and "a breath of fresh air" because of their unique sound and blend of influences. Those truly unique sounds can be heard on his latest release, December’s Glass Castles. Written and produced by Adkins, the thirteen insightful, well-crafted songs are steeped in a myriad of influences from Americana, Blues, Country, Folk and Rock. Adkins kindly took the time to talk about those influences, the album and more.
Being that your music might be new to many, give us a little background. Was music something that you always wanted to pursue professionally?
Honestly, my memory doesn’t go back far enough to remember not being obsessed with music. At thirteen years old I started playing in bands and at seventeen was playing in bands with older guys who would get me into the bars to play. Senior year of high school all my friends had typical jobs while mine was playing four-hour cover sets on weekends, which was so cool because I was making as much money as my friends who were working four or five days a week. After high school, I moved to Nashville, and everything sort of took off after that.
You mentioned that you have been involved in other bands. Is Glass Castles your first solo record?
I have been in bands throughout the years, but this is technically my fist solo album and my first foray into an album with an acoustic element. I’m such a music fan with such an eclectic blend of influences, that if you look at my stuff, you’ll notice that it’s hard for me to stick with one type of music. One of the bands that I was in was a roots rock endeavor. I shared lead vocals with another guy who had a deep baritone and one journalist described us as Jimi Hendrix meets Waylon Jennings, which was a perfect summary of it. After that, I played in a band that was more rock and grunge and last year I did an album that had a folky element along with rock and synthesizer. I think though, that folk and blues have really been the foundation for anything I’ve ever done in my life; it always goes back to those two elements.
Front-man of Australia's alt-country outfit Wagons, singer-songwriter Henry Wagons recently released his first full-length solo record, After What I Did Last Night... Chronicling Wagons' life from wild young man to husband and father, the album has the perfect triad of heart, humor and heft. While in the NYC doing press for the album, Wagons kindly took the time for an engaging chat about the album.
You wear many different hats: front-man of Wagons, radio show host [Double J’s Tower of Song] and television personality [in his native Australia]. And as of February 12th, with the release of After What I Did Last Night… you added another, solo-artist.
My band Wagons, we’re a bunch of big sweaty, hairy guys who have been on tour more or less since 2009, so we’re having a little bit of a break while I live my childhood dream and fulfill this bucket list item of making an album in this way [with pickup players]. I didn’t realize so many of my favorite records, whether you talk about the Beach Boys Pet Sounds, Neil Young’s Harvest or Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, were made with pick up players. Australia is very much a pop-rock culture; it’s all about more of a Lo-fi punk sensibility, you form bands in a more organic nature, like with friends you went to school with. It seems that in towns like Nashville, those kind of organic relationships are fast forwarded because there are a bunch of amazing musicians who are empathetic to the song and are ready to go at any time. They’re not the kind of session musician who wears muscle tops and does electric guitar dive bombs like Eddie Van Halen. They’re often songwriters themselves who know a good song, so to rock up and play with those like-minded types of people was a great thing to do. When we signed a new deal for my solo career at home, that afforded me the opportunity to come and do this, so I booked a flight straight away and it’s been great.