Sam Cregger [Artist]

Sam CreggerIt is truly amazing how an artist can just show up in to your life completely by accident. What is even more amazing is how you can begin to wonder how you ever appreciated music before hearing them!  Such is the case with one of my latest finds, the up Virginia based folksmith that is Sam Cregger.  Here we have a cat that embodies the very spirit of independent folk music that we have, or should have at least, come to appreciate and enjoy.

On his debut, home recorded and very DIY style, album Wanderlust, Cregger exemplifies himself as a true mastermind with brilliant lyrical fortitude with some beautiful country-esque folk tracks that kick at the darkness at times, but also shine a wonderful light at times as well.  His voice echoes like a ghost from older/simpler times.  Drawing on so many obvious influences, Cregger still manages to create a truly unique indie folk vibe, without sounding like a cheesy rip off of something that already as been done time and time again.  This clever.  This is unique.  This is great!

And there is even greater news in this pantomime of doting!  While his home recording was self evident enough of this cat being a fantastic musician, we have to wonder what this man could do in the studio!  Well, we are definitely in luck.  Cregger is running a Kickstarter campaign to help finance his trip to the studio to record this sophomore release.  And in said campaign, Cregger is offering up your chance to help make such a damn good thing possible, while scoring some pretty sweet swag for yourself, and of course the chance to pre-order the upcoming album.  Even just 10 bucks will get you a digital download of the album upon its release.

So head on over to Sam Cregger’s WEBSITE to check some of the tunes he has already shared with us, and then head on over to his KICKSTARTER page to help make his next album possible.

Greetings From Spektor Island: Music From the Film “Ten” [Album]

tensoundtrackcoverSo, there has been this great little project known as Ten that has been floating around our little blog here for a few months.  There has also been the mentions of artists such as Darling Pet Munkee, Catherine Capozzi, The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, and, to a sort of related extent, Do Not For Sake Me Oh My Darling.  And for the minorities out there who don’t already see the coalition, just understand that they are all simultaneously combined in one form or another, and that they are also simultaneously excellent as well.  This is why I am so pleased to feature this wonderful new soundtrack, Greetings From Spektor Island: Music From the Film “Ten” that combines so many of my favorite musicians, and now actors as well, into 41 beautiful cuts.

Catherine Capozzi, lead guitarist for the brilliant Axemunkee and crucial member to the collaborative effort that is Darling Pet Munkee, is without a doubt the key to this whole album, and the tantalizing composure of the film Ten she has created.  (Note: I have indeed watched an un-edited version of the film, and it really does kill me not to scream out loud, well as loud as you can be on the internet, I have to refrain for the moment.  But, trust me, it is coming!).  But what truly matters here is making damn sure you the fine readers understand that Capozzi has created something absolutely frightening yet hysterically fun as the composer of Ten, all without being too campy,

Composer, Catherine Capozzi

Composer, Catherine Capozzi

which I had always considered a very real and even scarier possibility.  But alas, my faith in Catherine to do right was positive, and she proved to be as ever immensely talented as I could have ever imagined.  She managed to draw from the sort of freakscape of her work with Darling Pet Munkee, as well as occasionally pulling out the beautiful acid jazz/blues riffs I have come to love in listening to her main project, Axemunkee (I can still hum “Acid Django” for days on end).  So many props have to be given to Catherine for creating something so just so beautifully dark and delightful.

But of course, I did say this was a group project as well.  And scattered throughout Welcome To Spektor Island, are some other great little ditties as well.  Including two equally frightening versions of one of the film’s centerpieces “Hush Little Piggies”.  There is the freak show at the carnival-esque version by the great and powerful and previously mentioned Darling Pet Munkee, as well as Sophia Cacciola’s (Do Not For Sake Me, MJME, everything she can get her beautiful vocals on, etc.) solo version that seriously conjured up images I wish I would have never had to see, imaginary or not.  There is also a fun little techno based cut entitled “Roe Deer”, which features some of the best dialogue from the film itself, and composed by the very talented Joel Edinberg.  And at what seems to be another show of great talent and good faith, A couple of very nice Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library tracks show up as Bonus Tracks, rounding out a very beautiful experience of listening overall.  And if it really needed to be pointed out even further for the virgin eyes and ears out there, Epstein just happens to be the film’s director, the curator of a billion projects all happening at once, and a hell of a musician, and as it turns out, a very insightful filmmaker as well!

Tensoundtrack, filmIn the end, the results of delightful this album was definitely should have, and was, to be expected.  With so many great artists, actors, overall great people, it is truly no surprise that the film Ten, and this amazing soundtrack turned out just so damn wonderful.  It is fun, it is playful, and all the while being absolutely terrifying.

Pick up a copy of the soundtrack for yourself HERE.  And be sure to stay in touch to learn more about the official release of Ten, coming soon(ish).  Get on the e-mail list, that always helps.

Cubbiebear: Force Back To Sleep [Album]

Cubbiebear - Force Back To SleepIt only takes a few moments in to a Cubbiebear track before you start to realize….  this is not music.  This is not exactly hip hop.  This is not exactly poetry.  What is this?  Obviously it is something beyond any sort of bullshit generalization.  But, what exactly?  What is this beautiful organized madness?  I don’t think there is an answer.  The best I can come up with whilst listening to this man’s latest album, Force Back To Sleep, that the in working of this man’s brain is being laid out right in front of you for the taking.  While it has been established that it is  impossible to generalize what you hear, it still can be safely stated that this is entirely fucking personal.

“I Don’t Care”, a stand out track on Force Back To Sleep, is Cubbiebear’s prime example of a being an excellent MC, with rhythm and story to tell.  It is a track that runs a bit smoother than the others, although it has a life and personalized style all on its own.  And on the flip side, a track like “Adam” brings out the poetic effects on a tale that seems so filled with so much pain and/or love that it almost feels as though some privacy is being invaded.  “Tame” is another cut that brings upon those great feelings of invasion to the psyche of a madman who found a microphone.

There are probably dozens of “Recommended If You Like” artists that I could name here to try to make you understand what this man sounds like.  But, in all reality, it would all be bullshit.  Cubbiebear sounds exactly as Cubbiebear wants himself to sound.  This is an artist who wants to have his voice heard, and he is the only one who can tell these stories, and with his very own fashion.  And Force Back To Sleep is an amazing biographical display of the pain, misery, and love of being this one man.  This is personal.  This is great stuff.

Check out Force Back To Sleep for yourself HERE.

Cedar & Boyer [Band]

Cedar & BoyerCedar & Boyer, a.k.a. hetero-lifemates Justin and Jen Landis are a very unique duo, to say the very least.  With their mellow, sort of Beach Boys on acid sound at times, this is another amazing modern folk duo that sound just so damn good.  Their songs are sweet, lo-fi, and ultimately very precious.  As Justin’s impressive vocals seem to drift over guitars gently weeping, it is damn near impossible not to feel uplifted in some form or another while this duo is serenading you oh so wonderfully.

Justin and Jen also happen to be another fine duo from my former residence, the same in which I profiled a short time ago, proclaiming my fan boy status of Spokane’s own Marshall McLean and his new band.  And not so ironically Justin happens to be the bassists for Marshall’s latest efforts.  Thus proving once again that the Inland Northwest is a breeding ground for fresh, new talent, yet seems to be an area that just can’t get its shit together.  Although it does seem strange that after a year away from the fair city of Spokane, I seem to be noticing more and more amazing artists taking residents in Eastern Washington or Northern Idaho.  Who knows, maybe it was me?  But nonetheless, Cedar & Boyer is an amazing set of performers, no matter what locale they may choose to claim.

For the perfect down home, indie folk meets Ryan Adams sort of vibe, you really don’t have to look much further than the truly blessed track “Used To Know”, from their debut 4 track EP released last November.  Rumor has it that a brand new full length is in the works, and I have to officially say that this might be one of my most anticipated albums that I will be impatiently waiting to come out.  And even now as I blare their equally enticing down home ballad “I’m Not Sorry I Left But I’m Sorry I Lost Touch”, the anticipation continuously builds at an alarm rate.  All that being said, Cedar & Boyer might just be one of the finest acts to emerge on the indie folk scene in recent years.

Shanley Caswell [Interview]

Shanley Caswell2Unless you were living under some proverbial rock this summer, you probably remember a horror masterpiece known as The Conjuring that rocked the box office for a couple of months.  I personally loved this film.  It has been years since a mainstream Hollywood horror film has been just so impressive.  And so much of it had to be due to the amazing cast, main characters and the supporting ones as well.
One aspect of the film that was truly impressive was the group of young, raw talent that made up the supporting family members.  When you reach a certain age, and you begin to realize that you are become a whole lot older than so many of the youthful stars of today, you might just find yourself looking for the next Demi Moore or Angelina Jolie or Helena Bonham Carter.  And folks, I believe I may have found the next big thing.  With her portrayal as the eldest daughter, Andrea, the lovely and talented Shanley Caswell was absolutely impressive.  And it would behoove me to make the announcement here and now, that she may be one of the finest actresses working today that was born in the 90’s.  I have a great feeling that we will be seeing so much more of this young lady.  This is another reason I am so honored to have been allotted the chance to ask this rising star a few questions.  So, check it out!
What compelled you to join the world of acting?
 Growing up in my hometown of Sarasota, FL I had a lot of access to the arts and especially theater. My whole family was involved in the theater world so it was kind of inevitable that I would join. I started out doing shows just for fun, but once I got older and started working on more complex stories and characters, I grew to really love acting. That’s what made me want to seek it out professionally.
You are officially the second youngest person we have interviewed here at TWS, second only to Tara Lynne Barr, and most the folks we interview would answer this question with “hopefully still alive”, I have to ask….  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?  
 Well hopefully still alive of course. But also I just hope that I’m working on something that I really love. I’d hate to have a job that makes me not want to get out of bed in the morning.
In your short career thus far, what would you say is your greatest accomplishment artistically speaking? 
Well, to be honest I’m just happy to be working at all in this industry. But if I had to choose one project that I’m really proud of it would have to be a movie I did called Detention. It was the most responsibility that I’ve ever had for a project and a character and I worked really hard on it. The whole experience was challenging but rewarding at the same time and I’m really proud of the way it turned out.
Shanley Caswell ConjuringWhat was life like on the set of The Conjuring?  Did you have anything to help lighten the mood while shooting a film with such dark subject matter?
What’s funny is that the mood on set was lighthearted and fun, not dark or dreary in any way. I think that, at least for all of my scenes, having the younger girls who played my sisters really helped to keep the energy happy on set because we were always playing games and joking around. I swear if someone would have visited and seen the set they would have thought we were filming a family comedy.
Was the subject matter of The Conjuring freaky to you?  What sort of occurances in horror films just scare the hell out of you?
 Paranormal movies always get me, so reading The Conjuring script was both exciting and scary to me. There’s just something about paranormal stories that plays on everyone’s primal fears and I think that the Conjuring does a good job at tapping into those fears.
What genre of film have you not worked in that you would really like to get in to?  Why?
 I would really like to do more dramas with complex characters because it’s so rare to find multidimensional characters written for my age group with a good story. I would also really like to do an action film of some sort because I would love to do some stunt work. I have such a respect for stunt performers in movies.
Shanley CaswellHave you ever thought about getting behind the camera in one form or another?  
 Yeah, actually. The thing I love about making films or theater or really any art is the idea that you are creating a product that can change people’s lives and outlook on life. So I think that I would be happy doing any job behind the camera just as long as I’m involved. If I had to choose one other job in particular though, I think casting would be fun because I love actors and I also like helping people in their careers. I would also like to write and be involved in the story making process.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
I’m watching a dog desperately trying to lick peanut butter from around her mouth right now. It’s pretty amusing.

Nathan Angelo: Out of the Blue [Album]

Nathan Angelo - Out of the BlueIt is (or at least should be) a fact that nostalgia is a hell of a drug.  It’s like cocaine to the soul.  At some point in your life you are probably going to utter the phrase; “Today’s music is just….(insert derogatory comment)”.  Our love for the past is a disease in which there is no cure.  And frankly, I find this to be a good thing.  And with that being said, insert Nathan Angelo and his infectious new album Out of the Blue, an amazing tribute to the days of yesteryear.  This album is an incredible ode to not only the days of Motown, but to the time when R&B actually meant Rhythm & Blues, as compared to whatever it is suppose to be today.

Right from the jump, Angelo makes his goal perfectly clear with the jump up and go track “Get Back”.  He whole heartedly informs us that Out of the Blue is going to be a journey back to the music that he is obviously very passionate about.  And then the journey begins.  Whether it’s the funk driven “You Could Be My Girl”, or the cool, collective, and oh so smooth love ballad “Thank You”, this is an album for the true believers of what it used to mean to be a genuine soul machine.  And with just a touch of doo wop, this is an album that is fuel for the nostalgia in all of us.

With a voice as smooth as expensive cognac, Nathan Angelo is one of the finest artists to emerge in the world of R&B in many many years.  Out of the Blue will definitely prove to be the best album in its class to come out this year.  Whether you want to dance, love, or simply groove by yourself in your living room with a glass of wine and a good feelings, this is the album you are going to want to hear.

Out of the Blue will be released on September 10th.  Head on over to his WEBSITE to pick up a copy for yourself, and be sure to catch Nathan in a city near you on his cross country tour in support of the new album.

Nathan Angelo’s Tour Dates 

09.12 Tin Roof, Columbia, SC

09.13 The Windjammer, Isle of Palms, SC

09.14 Smith’s Ode Bar, Atlanta, GA

09.18 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA

09.20 The Channel, Greenville, SC

09.21 Evening Muse, Charlotte, NC

09.22 Pour House Music Hall, Raleigh, NC

09.24 Jammin’ Java, Vienna, VA

09.25 The Middle East – Upstairs, Cambridge, MA

09.27 The Living Room, New York, NY

09.28 Club Cafe, Pittsburgh, PA

09.30 Skully’s Music Diner, Columbus, OH

10.01 Birdy’s, Indianapolis, IN

10.02 The Elbo Room, Chicago, IL

10.24 Rhythm & Brews, Chattanooga, TN

10.25 3rd & Lindsley, Nashville, TN

11.01 Lestats, San Diego, CA

11.03 Hotel Utah, San Francisco, CA

This Ain’t No Holiday Inn: Down and Out at the Chelsea Hotel 1980-1995, an Oral History by James Lough [Book]

ChelseaSo just a couple of months ago we shared a feature for an event that occurred in my favorite city of Portland, Oregon in which the great James Lough would be doing a reading from his latest book, This Ain’t No Holiday Inn: Down and Out at the Chelsea Hotel 1980-1995.  And from what I know, the event went well.  And needless to say, I became very drawn to this book.  As I have eluded several times over the years, I am a huge fan of the Beats.  I love the Beats, and the overall bohemian culture in which I will never truly be a part of, in this lifetime at least.  And for anyone who is an adamant follower of the Beats, bohemia, or simply counterculture in general, we all know that the Chelsea Hotel is in so many ways the epicenter of bohemian lifestyle.  It was one place that not only allowed manic behavior and artistic creativity, it condoned it!  To go even further, it yearned for it!  Some of the greatest minds to ever think on this earth have been there.  From prestigious like figures such as Thomas Wolfe, Arthur Miller, and Mark Twain.  To legendary Beat writers and/or junkies William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Huncke, and Gregory Corso.  And all the way back to musicians such as Patti Smith, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Sid Vicious (I think we all know that story by now), and Dee Dee Ramone.  And the lists goes on, and on.  Hell, I didn’t even get into the painters, fashion designers, and the entire Warhol clan.  To put plainly: if you were an artist living or breathing around New York City, you wanted to be at the Chelsea.

Author James Lough seemed to have scored a jackpot at some point in his life, probably before he even realized it.  How strange would it be to well educated and well versed in the world of literature, and to not realize that your very own brother-in-law was once a corresponding resident amongst some the greatest minds of our time.  Lough is not unlike a the modest blue collar man who buys a Power Ball ticket on a whim, forgets about, only to have his wife retrieve it before throwing it in the wash, and soon realizing that money was never going to be an issue for them (yes, I know this is a long ass description, but seriously, imagine that scenario).  Yes, Lough’s very own brother-in-law, Robert Campbell, has been through a lot in his life, and so much of it happened at the Chelsea Hotel between 1980-1995.  It shouldn’t take a genius mind to realize that something great had the potential of happening.  And Lough certainly jumped on board, and we should all be so damn grateful that he did.

The years of 1980-1995, may seem like peculiar years to cover.  Several other books and documentaries have been spawned over the years, but tend to focus on the 50’s, 60’s, and to the more infamous events (and deaths) that occurred there in the 70’s.  But, it is as if he were left the thoughts that either (1) things just continued and continue to get even more strange at the Chelsea or (2) the craziness simply died away.  And sadly, at this stage in time, both are actually correct.  But, what about the people?  There had to be plenty of eccentrics and crazy’s living and passing through the Chelsea after Lennon was killed, am I right?  Well, as the old saying goes….it feels so good to be right!

James Lough3Throughout the pages of this amazing oral biography you will hear from some pretty wild figures who inhabited the Chelsea walls, and of the antics and acts of artistic fortitude that prevailed so heavily.  The stories of the horrid, the advancement, and the degradation of so many great folks.  First hand encounters from such interesting folks as writer and screenwriter Marlow West and his lovely take on how insanity was simple a side effect of brilliance, and vice versa.  Not to mention a few words from the staff who were consistently living in feat of the tyrannical yet good hearted hotel manager Stanley Bard just as so many of the living artists who called themselves residences within these walls.  There are tales of drugs, sex, manivilance, torture souls, and to top it all, a whole lot of fun at times.  Hustlers like original Beat Herbert Huncke who were always looking for a quick scam, while hardly ever seeming to lose their idealization of the fine people around him, and right now to the deranged off again and on again worth ethic of Dee Dee Ramone as he picked up a few friends (including Robert Cambpell himself) to re invent his image in to the blues man he always wished he could be.

Pimps, drug dealers, eccentrics, and weirdos.  These are characteristics they were label to have during their hey day, and still seem to be their most famous attributes, yet they now come with something a bit more than tolerance, a sense of respect.  And it is suffice to say that there could be no better man to characterize these deranged and lovely people so wonderfully than the sociologist means modern day poet/biographer James Lough.  His own descriptions of the time are rivaled in comparison to the likes of the crazies who lived, worked, and dreamed at this severely interesting several story building for the mad and the ambigiously stellar artists who unfortunately may have only received their fame and notarity within these walls.  But, if you have to be known for something, a staple at an American landmark such as the Chelsea isn’t such a bad thing to be.  This is a notion that James Lough develops and routes or minds into the right direction with a great sense of elegance and even playfulness as he never directs you to sympathize with these mad, mad men and women, but just to simply realize that this scene did indeed exist.  And that we should appreciate each and every aspect these characters brought not only to the Chelsea, but to the final days of the great and true bohemian lifestyle.

About the time the book is wrapping up, and you are stirring with depression due to the fact that the stories must end, it can be decidedly thought that Lough has definitely created something so much more than just a simple oral biography as the title suggests.  This man has given us a fresh insight into the world of bohemia, and Chelsea - James Lough Photowhat exactly it means to live and die by one’s art and how such passion for such insane idealism may not be dead, but it certainly will never be the same as it was in days passed.  It becomes abundantly clear that James and his merry band of eccentrics interviewed in these pages have taken us on a journey through the final days of a certain place and time that seemed has all but dwindled down to nothing more than the memories of a few grizzle old men and dainty old women, of whom we may soon see their light sadly burn out.  The era covered in this wonderful memoir of a doomed time is the epilogue of the wild and free days of the artist.  It is a vision of New York City when the tower’s where in the sky, and capital gains weren’t sought after with a vengeance greater than that of trying to save your soul.  The Chelsea Hotel is definitely the outer core and main focus of the book, but essentially this is a book about artists.  Artists who dared to dream, and the mosaic place that once facilitated their genius.

Find out the joy and splendor of the book for yourself by picking up a copy right HERE.