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Where the Lore Began
by Jeremiah Tall

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Where the Lore Began by Jeremiah TallPennsylvania native Jeremiah Tall is a roots musician who draws musical inspiration from the mountains and great outdoors while his lyrics range from the tall tales of his youth to the realities of everyday life. On his latest full length album, Where the Lore Began, Tall delivers eleven tracks of strong but sparsely-arranged tunes that are melodic and potent and just diverse enough to make for an interesting listen from beginning to end.

Tall performs a one-man show where his vocals are accompanied by a variety of instruments including acoustic guitar, banjo, and mandolin. He also adds an occasional harmonica lead and keeps a steady stomp with a custom kick drum converted from a hand painted suitcase. This 2015 album follows his 2014 EP Waking, which was produced by Bill Moriarty. For Where the Lore Began, Moriarity co-produced with Tim Bostwick as well as Tall, who did some independent recordings.

“Almost Heaven” kicks off as a short, banjo-fused stomp with the repeated chorus being the entirety of the lyrics in this minute-long song. “A Heart at War” follows as a pop-oriented blue grass tune with some strategic stops for good effect and a fine harmonica solo. “Hard Working Man” finds Tall nearly solo on mandolin with the slightest rhythmic arrangement and great vocals throughout, while “I Got a Name” is a banjo led folk jam with a middle section a cool clapping/percussion. “Where The Dandelions Roam” is a slightly melancholy ode to a love of nature not shared by a significant other and features good acoustic guitar action, where “Moonlight” is the first song with a rich arrangement, including a Farfisa organ by Ben Mazz as well as a richer bass and vocal effects, which works to give this short track a haunting feel.

Another pleasant but haunting acoustic folk, “Never Surrender” is decorated with some strings for a cool vibe as the lyrics tell of armed resistance and the harmonica lead is an overall highlight on the album. “Time” is a much brighter song than the preceding cuts, almost a celebratory love song all performed above a scratched out banjo riff, sparse but effective bass and some slight backing vocals in the chorus. “Two Timing Tommy” is a working-class acoustic guitar folk song about a bank robbing anti-hero. The inclusion of Erica Erenyi on cello and Jamie Shadowlight on violin really work here to make this a dark and direct tune. “Working For” is a moody track about a worn out laborer and this features another rich arrangement with thumping rhythms and some very potent vocal dynamics. The album concludes with “Salvation”, which completes the loop as a banjo track with lyrics that are dramatic and a vocal delivered with much desperation.

Since the release of Where the Lore Began in October 2015, Jeremiah Tall has continued to play heavily in the Northeast and in 2016 began to tour across the USA as a supporting act.

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Jeremiah Tall online

Jeremiah Tall on Twitter  Jeremiah Tall on Facebook
Jeremiah Tall website
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Detroitville by Nick Pivot

Detroitville by Nick PivotProud motor city resident Nick Pivot released his debut Detroitville in 2015. This pure country, slightly comical EP features well produced songs with simple, accessible hooks and themes. The album was produced by Robert Crenshaw who took a classic country approach, inspired by the sounds of artists such as Tennessee Ernie Ford and Buck Owens. Several top-notch Detroit area musicians played on the record.

The “Nick Pivot” name was originally adopted as the pen name of journalist Mike Nickele when he was the news editor at Auto Week magazine. Nickele had previously worked in a Chrysler assembly plant while in college, all the while writing and performing music. Starting off in rock bands, Nickele eventually migrated towards country music and Nickele formed a duo called Skin and Bones, where the earliest versions of songs that appear on Detroitville were forged.

The EP begins with “A Box of Wine, a Bag of Weed and Judge Judy”, the ultimate anthem of the unemployed slacker. “High and Inside” follows with more clever lyrics along with many bluegrass elements and a great slide guitar. The Best overall song on the album is “Honky Tonk Crowd”, a pure slow country waltz with rapid mandolin, accordion, stand-up bass and a nice chorus of backing vocals behind Pivot’s melancholy vocals. “Help Mr. Wizard” features a good mixture of blended electric and lap steel guitars along with a saxophone which gives this song a real musical edge, while the short but effective “Rock Town” is the closest to an actual rock song with well-treated, edgy vocals and a methodical drum roll throughout to complement a consistent electric guitar and bass riff.

The most indelible track on Detroitville is the quasi-theme track “Fuck You, I’m from Detroit”, an intentional chant, which one can foresee being a classic in Detroit for decades to come. Musically, this acoustic-based track is joined by a slide guitar and crowd effects, while lyrically Pivot name drops a lot of Detroit musicians as well as cultural landmarks. As for the vulgar title of this track, Pivot shrugs it off as a “friendly ‘howdy do’.”

The sub-title to Detroitville is “Shop floor country from the Motor City”, a complex yet common theme for this populist album.

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Nick Pivot online

Nick Pivot on Reverbnation  Nick Pivot on Facebook
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History of the Blues, Part 2

In the second and final part of the series, we look at American blues as it fanned out into several sub-genres and had notable influence on rock n roll in the second half of the 20th century. This is done in conjunction with the below video, which is part 2 of a 2-part 2013 BBC Documentary called Blues America: Woke Up This Morning, with commentary by Keith Richards, Taj Mahal, Blind Boy Paxton, Buddy Guy and Billy Boy Arnold among others.

With the industrialization of cotton picking and the post-war boom of northern American cities, there was a mass migration from rural to urban areas, especially among the African American population. With this, the style and meaning of blues music continued to change as attitudes about the music evolved within the younger members of the African American community.

In 1950, the new electric blues was “every black person’s party music” as the acoustic, agrawal sound of the recent past was quickly left behind. Founded and run by Polish immigrant brothers Leonard and Phil Chess who also handled most of the music production, Chicago’s Chess Records became the epicenter of this new sound. Mississippi migrant Muddy Waters was the first real “star” of Chess, with a perfectly framed voice and harmonica played above sparse but potent musical arrangements. Waters’ first hit, “I Can’t Be Satisfied” in 1948, was the perfect bridge between the country and city sound as one of the earliest examples of an electrified take on down-home blues.

The Chess brothers began an association with Sam Phillips and his Memphis-based Sun Records in 1951, closing the talent circuit between the Delta and Chicago blues talent pools. Phillips discovered Howlin Wolf (born Chester Aurthur) and referred to Chess, resulting in the 1951 hit “How Many More Years”, an original song delivered with a powerful voice and strong commercial sensibility. Phillips also released early music by the legendary B.B. King, launching an incredibly long and fruitful career.

Of course, it was Phillips’ discovery of Elvis Presley, starting with a cover of Arthur Crudup’s “That’s Alright Mama” where the young white performer “sounded black”. From here, rock n’ roll became the great melting pot of musical genres, sneaking across an invisible racial barrier and acting as a tectonic shift in American culture. In a reversal of the Elvis model, guitarist Chuck Berry went to Chess Records and converted a country/hillbilly song into the hit “Maybelline”, where the young black performer “sounded white”.

By the end of the 1950s, young black Americans had begun to move towards the sound of Motown/soul and away from the blues that they deemed  “slave music”, “plantation music” and/or “old folks music”. But just as the hits dried up for even the most famous blues artists, a new white audience began to celebrate the traditional blues and re-frame this music as an art of “struggle and strife”. With this, the careers of older artists such as John Estes, Son House and Skip James found new life up north as these old masters performed to new white audiences. Adding to the appeal and curiosity, the “crossroads legend” combined with the 1961 compilation album, King of the Delta Blues Artists added to the legend and mystery of Robert Johnson and increased his influenced on the coming wave of (mostly) British classic rock bands such as the Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones, Cream and Led Zeppelin.

In the coming decades, artists like BB King, who played uptown, electric blues with class and dignity, kept the blues tradition alive in mainstream music with a fresh wave of blues-based rock artists, such as Stevie Ray Vaughn, George Thorogood and Robert Cray coming in the 1980s. In 1990, a 72-year-old John Lee Hooker, who had migrated to Detroit from Mississippi, to perform his famed boogie chillin’ style, had an incredible career revival with the album The Healer, proving that the blues style would live on into the future.

History of the Blues, Part 1

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