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Autumn 2017 Select Seven

Roots Rock Review’s brief look at seven new releases, featuring roots rock review, select seven, Autumn 2017, Kari Arnett, Pokey Lafarge, Heather Kenney, Sawtooth Brothers, Tinsey Ellis, Ronnie Baker Brooks, and Shelly Waters.

Shelly Waters LP

Shelly Waters by Shelly Waters

Rayne, Louisiana is home to singer-songwriter Shelly Waters, who released her self-titled debut LP this past summer. Her music features a nice blend of blues, country, and rock.

Shelly Waters online

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Shelly Waters website
Buy Shelly Waters

Times Have Changed by Ronnie Baker Brooks

Times Have Changed by Ronnie Baker Brooks

Chicago blues man Ronnie Baker Brooks continues his decades-long output with Times Have Changed. Recorded in Nashville, the album features solid material with multiple guitar parts and top notch material.

Ronnie Baker Brooks online

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Ronnie Baker Brooks website
Buy Times Have Changed

Red Clay Soul by Tinsey Ellis

Red Clay Soul by Tinsley Ellis

The 2016 release Red Clay Soul by Georgia-based artist Tinsley Ellis is his first to top the Blues Radio Chart. This album celebrates a performing, composing and recording legacy which is into its fourth decade.

Tinsley Ellis online

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Tinsley Ellis website
Buy Red Clay Soul

One More Flight by Sawtooth Brothers

One More Flight by Sawtooth Brothers

Minneapolis-based bluegrass group Sawtooth Brothers feature lush and complex instrumentation, thoughtful and sophisticated lyrics, and fine melodies and harmonies on their album One More Flight.

Sawtooth Brothers online

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Sawtooth Brothers website
Buy One More Flight

Midwestern Skyline EP by Kari Arnett

Midwestern Skyline EP by Kari Arnett

Midwestern Skyline is the debut EP by Minnesota based alt-country artist Kari Arnett. This release features storytelling songs with creative lyrics on love and loss and other imaginative themes.

Kari Arnett online

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Kari Arnett website
Buy Midwestern Skyline

Manic Revelations by Pokey Lafarge

Manic Relevations by Pokey Lafarge

Manic Relevations is the latest from St. Louis-based Pokey Lafarge, a diverse artist who crosses over through several roots genres including folk, blues, rockabilly and soul.

Pokey Lafarge online

Pokey Lafarge on Reverbnation    Pokey Lafarge on Facebook    Pokey Lafarge on Instagram
Pokey Lafarge website
Buy Manic Relevations

Waltz EP by Heather Kenney

Waltz EP by Heather Kenney

Heather Kenney is a folk artist from Raleigh, North Carolina who recently released her debut EP, Waltz. This album features acoustic songs with fine and graceful melodies by the young artist.

Heather Kenney online

Heather Kenney on Reverbnation    Heather Kenney on Facebook    Heather Kenney on Twitter
Heather Kenney website
Buy Waltzs


Roots Rock Review’s look at seven new quality album and EP releases, published on November 12, 2017.


  • 9


Fire Dancer by Beau + Luci

Fire Dancer by Beau and LuciFrom Southern Georgia comes the duo Beau + Luci who pleasantly blend modern country and Gospel with pop elements to forge their distinctive sound. They fashion themselves as “flower children with rock ‘n roll souls” as they vocally deliver rich harmonies and catchy melodies influenced by legends like the Allman Brothers, Emmylou Harris and Johnny Cash.

Beau + Luci are sisters who began singing early on in church, founding a live group called the Crossroads Worship Band. They were eventually inspired to branch out and develop their talents into other areas of music. In 2012, the sisters began recording originals and cover songs and publishing on YouTube and they spent the subsequent years refining their sound and songwriting skills.

Fire Dancer was produced by Dan Hannon and recorded in his Georgia studio. The album’s title was inspired by a character from author Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart novel. The result is a sound that is fascinating , with complex vocal layering, some traditional rootsy “siren” sounds, and country crooning with a little bit of rock diva.

Roots Rock Review logoFire Dancer by Beau and Luci
Released: March 3, 2017
Produced by: Dan Hannon
Track Listing Primary Musicians
Fire Dancer
Like a Drum
Black Boots
Rattle the Bones
Among the Stars
Muddy Water
Deeper Well
Lead Vocals
Lead Vocals
Scott Sharrard
Peter Levin
Rami Jaffee


The album’s opening title track, “Fire Dancer”, features rich, high vocals with plenty of vibrato as well as rich production techniques with subtle sounds weaving in and out of the solid Americana rhythms. “Like a Drum” has a bit of a sinister feel to it, like a chant around a fire circle, with an interesting mix of banjo and guitar built around the steady, thumping percussive beat. The lyrics on this track  talk of “going through a difficult time, where there’s this constant wear and tear on your heart and you feel like you can’t get any relief, but also a refusal to give in”. “Black Boots” is more rock oriented than the first two songs, with a harder edge to the guitar and very catchy melodies.

Beau and Luci

The stomping beat and roadhouse country of “Rattle the Bones” showcases some Southern rock influence and another hook filled melody. “Among the Stars” is an acoustic ballad with ethereal sounds and softly controlled vocals in an almost folk-rock delivery. It was written for a close friend who was in the process of dealing with the loss of a family member with a tinge of hope of seeing those loved ones again.

The album’s final sequence shows a real appreciation for Southern roots music. “Muddy Water” sounds like rolling water with a spiritual jam and bluesy guitars.  The song was written while the duo were in Macon, Georgia to see Gregg Allman in concert and make a pilgrimage to all places related to the Allman Brothers Band. Luci stated that “Macon has always held a sense of magic to us; some of our favorite bands called it home. The soul of the town and the legends who lived there inspired us to write Muddy Water, with the hope that we would carry on that legacy in our way, so that song means a lot to us. ” The unlisted traditional bluegrass song, “Down to the River to Pray” leads to the cover of Emmylou Harris’s “Deeper Well” with intense sonic effects to close out the album.

While the duo states that “every track on this album is a massive piece of us as people and as artists”, Beau + Luci have found that final track to be an apt closer because it signifies the ability to find something deeper when it appears like your “river has run dry”. The duo continues to write new material while touring constantly and are eager to start another recording project in the near future.


Beau and Luci online

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Beau and Luci website
Buy Fire Dancer



Stax Records

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of Stax Records (originally named “Satellite Records” at its founding). Although this label had less than 20 years as a productive force of original music, the influence of the sound forged there would reverberate through R&B, funk, soul and rock n’ roll. Some notable artists affiliated with Stax include The Mar-Keys, Rufus Thomas, Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Sam & Dave, Albert King, Wilson Pickett, Isaac Hayes and Booker T. & the M.G.’s.

Initially operating out of a garage in Memphis, Tennessee, the label was founded in 1957 by Jim Stewart. A professional fiddle player, Stewart originally focused on his familiar genres of country, rockabilly and pop music. In subsequent years, Stewart’s sister Estelle Axton invested in the fledgling company and the combination of “Stewart” and “Axton” would form the label’s new name of “Stax”.

Satellite released their first record in 1958, the R&B single “Fool in Love” by The Vel-tones. While promoting this single, Stewart met with Memphis DJ Rufus Thomas. Along with his daughter Carla, Thomas would be the first artist to record at the new Stax recording studio, located in a converted theater in South Memphis, TN. The resulting single, “Cause I Love You” by Rufus & Carla, was also important as the first Stax record picked up for national distribution by Atlantic Records. This set up a business relationship which let Stax focus mainly on the recording side and much less on the distribution side of the business.

The studio’s sloped floors in the converted theater created unique acoustic properties, a happy accident which created the unique and signature Stax sound on multiple hit songs through the 1960s. Keyboardist Booker T. Jones soon became a regular session musician at Stax and recruited other session musicians to form Booker T. & the M.G.’s, a group which not only backed other artists as the Stax “house band” but also recorded numerous hit singles in their own right and were involved in virtually all of the hits coming out of Stax through the mid and late sixties.

In 1965, Stax and Atlantic formalized their distribution agreement (it had pretty much been a “handshake” agreement). Although the label continued to accelerate towards its peak in 1966, the 1965 agreement would ultimately prove to be devastating to Stax’s business. When Atlantic Records was sold to Warner Bros. In 1967, Stax lost the master tapes and any rights of reproduction for all the music distributed by Atlantic between 1960 and 1967.

The misfortune continued as Otis Redding and several members of The Bar-Kays were killed in a plane crash in December 1967. The following year Stewart sold his shares in Stax and Axton followed suit a few years later. Despite a frenzy of new releases in the late sixties  and early seventies and the recording of three new albums at Stax’s studio by Elvis Presley, the label declined through the early seventies and filed for Chapter 11 in 1975.

Stax 60 logo

In May 2017, the Stax Classics series was launched as a collaboration between Rhino and Concord. This ambitious collection currently consists of ten compilation albums, each one focused on a classic Stax artist, with more collections to be released in the near future.

William Bell
Booker T and the MGs
The Dramatics
Isaac Hayes
Albert King
Otis Redding
Sam and Dave
The Staple Singers
Johnnie Taylor
Carla Thomas