• What Are You Doing Now?

    16 Dec 2008, 14:18 by jcshepard

    7 reasons why everyone in the music industry should try Twitter

    The blog is so yesterday...
    Follow my Tweets at:
  • Becky Schlegel - FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE

    12 Apr 2008, 19:06 by jcshepard

    Award-Winning Singer/Songwriter Becky Schlegel Makes National Debut With FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE, June 17

    "Meticulously arranged settings that combine elements of bluegrass and contemporary country/folk in a way that complements her gemlike songs." -Bluegrass Unlimited

    "You've got some notes there in your voice that make an older person feel faint -- makes cowboys order an extra beer." - Garrison Keillor

    Nashville, TN (April 10, 2008) - Multi-award winning singer/songwriter Becky Schlegel makes her national debut with FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE (Lilly Ray/IGO Records) on June 17. Although an indie artist, Schlegel has quietly built an impressive cross-genre (, & ) fan base since 1999, helped in part by frequent appearances on National Public Radio's A Prairie Home Companion and RFD-TV's Midwest Country Theater. Now, with distribution throughout North America via Select-O-Hits and marketing by IGO Records, Becky's music (which has been compared to Alison Krauss, Sara McLaughlin and Jewel) will be available in stores nationwide for the first time.

    From the haunting slide of Bo Ramsey's guitar that opens the disc's title track, the spell is cast on this 11-song collection - and Schlegel's voice treads the border between vulnerability and passion with an easy grace. The rolling keyboard of Rich Dworsky and Kenny Wilson's steel guitar lend the perfect support to Schlegel's sweet goodbye on "Bound For Tennessee;" while the magical Appalachian feel of "Jenny" is timeless, shining with Jeff Midkiff's mandolin, Brian Fesler's gritty acoustic guitar and Becky's poignant vocal. "Lonely" is stunning in its simplicity - the track consists solely of two acoustic guitars and Schlegel's ethereal soprano; while the driving "99%" bristles with Fesler's fiery banjo and a pounding acoustic bass. Becky's compositions give aficionados of extraordinary musicianship - and students of human emotion - plenty to enjoy on this album.

    Schlegel's two previous CDs, Red Leaf and Drifter Like Me, have earned her numerous awards, and the Minnesota Music Academy has honored her for five consecutive years. In 2003 and 2005, Becky performed at the IBMA's prestigious Songwriters' Showcase, and she continues to entertain fans at festivals and concerts across the Midwest.

    FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE is co-produced by Schlegel and Brian Fesler and will be available in stores and online through all the popular e-tailers on JUNE 17.

    For more information on Becky, log on to: or

    (Martha Moore PR)

    Becky is a Minnesota gal, friendly on-stage & a great musician. Give 'er a whirl.
  • Becky Schlegel after the rain let up

    24 Aug 2007, 15:11 by jcshepard

    Thu 23 Aug – Becky Schlegel

    The City of Marshall & Schwann's Foods does a community festival each August, called Sounds of Summer. It's a nice thing out here on the Minnesota prairie, brings some acts to town that we might not see otherwise.

    It started raining last weekend, first rain since May. Good for crops, bad for outdoor festivals. I caught the end of Becky Schlegel's gig at the bandshell downtown after going overtime at a meeting in another town. The crowd was a bit thin; I'm just glad the rain let up for the show.

    Impression: She's older than I would have thought, but in the newspaper interview she was mentioning getting older and interested in new types of music. Her voice and guitar work, though, comes across very young and energetic.

    And that's not just being Minnesota nice. I'll be looking up Becky another time.
  • 3 more "albums" up you can download

    20 Aug 2007, 10:14 by stevebc

    "albums" because, there some what arbitrarily
    conceived play lists of songs, as I came across them
    the entire collection of my various forms of electronic
    music, beats, etc.
    well most of it.
    some of which I was making with the belief that it would
    be my next album, with vocals, which I just cant seem to record right now. So, as they are or were, yours to share,

    The first two albums, are up at my music profile here





    The third one I put up today, or the 5th one Ive put up online overall..

    I couldnt get D's to upload here, still it's up
    be well
    bacon grease
  • Captain Yonder – Good-Bye, Woland! (Strange Midge)

    1 May 2007, 19:28 by jcshepard

    From the first riff, Captain Yonder’s new album Good-Bye, Woland struck me as different. Which is nothing different. The Captain’s first album I heard, Mad Country Love Songs was very different, odd in a backwoods sea shanty sort of way. The Captain’s next, eponymous album was also different, still gothic, a bit more refined and focused, an eight-song poem on a theme of love, death and insanity. Odd in a northwoods maritime sort of way.

    With Woland, released today (1 May 07), the Captain is firing up the party barge on all the alt.folk, retro-country, roots rock Americana cylinders. Frontman Ryan Pfeiffer was crafted a soundtrack to a movie not yet made, an essay in song and verse. The legendary Captain of myth and muse is less seen and more heard this time around, as Pfeiffer and cellist Esme Schwall claim their own place with confidence at the helm. Maybe it’s Pfeiffer’s Minnesota digs, or the Tucson recording studio, or just the requisite number of years of blood, sweet, and vibraphones, whatever it might be brings forth a lyric and engaging album.

    You’ll want to say “Hello” to Captain Yonder’s Woland.

    Track One, “In Anatolia”. A veiled tribute to They Might Be Giants’ “Constantinople”? Not really, tho if you like one you should like the other. Just don't leave it to the Turks. A relaxed yet strong start to a sonic delight, subtle on the mix of strings, acoustic guitar and clear distinct vocals.

    Track Two, “Ode to a Trucker 9” We don’t’ have good trucker songs anymore. Think CW McCall or Red Sovine on the Twilight Zone with an electric guitar.

    Track Three, “The Black Dress”, has been on my Myspace player for a bit. This is Schwall’s chance to show offer her songwriting and strong, velvety vocals in a give-take with Pfeiffer.

    Track Four, “The Good Machine”. The Captain has a bit of effects fun here. Breaker 1-9 fer them yodels, good buddy.

    Track Five, “She Was Good to Me”. Lil’ bit more weirdness with musical toys.

    Track Six, “Banks of the Ohio”. Captain Jack’s attributed contribution, a modernated traditional 4-beat murder ballad. I get visions of a Civil War era ballroom with lots of twirling dresses & gents in top hats dancing.

    Track Seven, “When a Cat’s a Dog” has become my favorite track here. Short & catchy, a natural for a fun Video or better yet a TV appearance. Sure to light ‘em up in concert.

    Track Eight, “The Dog King” fits right in with a weird trucker’s waltz right where it needs to be. A cautionary tale akin to Alan Jackson’s “I’m In Love With My Waitress” with a killer Saw part.

    Track Nine, “My Good Hoss”. Ride ‘em Captain.

    Track Ten, Bonus Track (untitled). Yet more ghostly weirdness. Have fun with it.

  • Stuck on Shuffle K-L

    19 Sep 2006, 13:41 by jcshepard

    Summer in the Northland demands your attention. The sun stays up till 10 at night, and you can't help but brave mosquitos the size of chiuahauas to enjoy the heat and sunshine.....because you know it is a matter of days, hours, minutes, until Jack Frost comes knocking at your bedroom window. And there the old bastard was this morning. Autumn beckons and Minnesota follows.

    I've been scattered and unfocused recently, in life and music. Stuck on Shuffle somewhere in the K-L section of the CD Library. Highlights:

    Alison Krauss is an angel straight from Heaven, which I never realized was quite so close to Champaign, Illinois. I know it is in her Rounder contract , but its been interesting as well to try to discern a difference between what young Alison records solo, and that which the entirety of Alison Krauss & Union Station records. Then there is her production work, with the likes of early Nickel Creek. I may have to get my Mrs Alan Jackson's new album just to see how her producing is coming along. It is just amazing this woman can win 20 Grammys and still come across as the Salt of the Earth. Amen Alison.

    Let me repeat: Kane's River is a great regional bluegrass band out of the Gallatin Valley of Montana. Bridger Mountains. Yellowstone Park. Amazing fly-fishing. I would nominate Bozeman, Montana, for Heaven over Champaign, Illinois, any day, and it seems more and more Angels (and Devils) are moving there every day.

    Rumour has it that Graham Lindsey is even setting up shop up yonder Big Sky contry. BTW, his new album Hell Under the Skullbones is now available Stateside. Miles of Music is callin' it a Cracker, but we knew that.

    Don't know much about Joanie Keller. Nebraska girl. Fairly mainstream Country music, with a personal touch. Came well recommended.

    My sister gave me some Diana Krall. I've seen her on TV (Krall, not my sister). I guess she's as far into Jazz as I really have cared to travel. Some hits a vibe I can relate to. Alot doesn't. Diversity is good, but Diversity for Diversity's sake is a Golden Idol and False Prophet. Words of Doooooom.

    I had never heard of Sonny Landreth before some of the DJs at KRFC started putting him in heavy rotation. Wowsa, Louisiana swamp blues. Turn it up to 11 boys, turn it up.

    Kid Jonny Lang I knew from the Fargo media--we celebrate our own...once they move to Minneapolis and get famous. Other than the surname (Lang is a common name of Scandanavian extract), there is just no way to tell this guy ain't Delta born and bred. The Red River may look big from Fargo, but it ain't no Big Easy so it's a thing somebody like this moves beyond his raising. After initial success he's had a time getting beyond his "Kid" status, but I figure he'll come around with a few miles on the tires. We're tough breed up in the Northland, we are.

    best get back to work...
  • Brenda Weiler: A sister’s song

    4 May 2006, 14:52 by jcshepard

    A sister’s song
    By John Lamb
    The Forum - 05/04/2006
    Since she released her first album in 1997, Brenda Weiler has built a following as a pop and singer, hitting the road for weeks at a time with just her guitar.

    After touring behind four studio albums and one live disc and criss-crossing the country, she was due for some time off.

    The past seven months have seen the singer retreat to her home in Portland, Ore., but the time away from the road, her fans and her music has been no vacation.

    An Oct. 11 posting on her Web site announced that her 33-year-old sister Jennifer had taken her own life and that all scheduled shows were cancelled.

    Brenda still grieves the loss to her tight-knit Fargo family, but has taken steps toward getting her life back on track, including a homecoming show Friday night at Beckwith Recital Hall at North Dakota State University. The concert is not only an attempt to re-establish some normalcy after the tragedy, it’s also a family affair as she shares the spotlight with her older brother Michael, who in the late 1980s fronted the band The Fates, and in the early ’90s Slippy McGee.

    Though she comes from a musical family – youngest brother Mark spins records as DJ Guy Jean – after Jennifer’s death, music had no appeal for Brenda.

    “I didn’t want to listen to music, period. I didn’t want it playing at home. If I was in a car, I would shut it off.”

    Full story at:
  • Mal, Stoddard, Isles at Windom, MN 8Apr06

    17 Apr 2006, 22:01 by jcshepard

    Three performing songwriting veterans of the Kerrville Folk Festival, David Stoddard, Karen Mal, and Bill Isles, took to a small-town stage in Windom, MN, on Saturday 8th of April to give us out-state Minnesotans a taste of the festival circuit.

    This show capped the sophomore year for Windom's Prairie Wind Folk Music & Bluegrass Association. After leaving the "big city" of Fort Collins, I've not missed the traffic jams but have missed the traffic of live music coming thru town. Occasionaly tuning the webcast into KRFC-FM's Live@Lunch noon programs helps, but it's not the same as being there. A local aspiring songwriter figured the best way to share his love for the music was to bring home some of the folk fest music he found out and about our fair country. Wa-la, about 100 members and a couple foundation grants later, real live music visits the great unwashed.

    I played Karen Mal and Bill Isles on my old radio show--some of the "acoustic" in Americana. Bill is from up Duluth ways, after reforming from his State Highway Department ways. He played thru Colorado before getting bit by the West Nile. Bill says he'll come back anyway. He played an acoustic guitar.

    Karen is an Austin-ite from Wisconsin with a heavenly voice, poetic lyric, and an elegance on-stage on par with Emmylou Harris or Patty Griffin. She played an acoustic guitar and a Pennsylvania mandolin.

    I wasn't familiar with Wisconsin-ite David Stoddard, a 2005 Kerrville New Folk songwriting winner. The Cheesehead won for a reason--smart, funny, biting without being bitter. Reminds me of Beaver Nelson or a young John Prine. He played acoustic guitar and electric piano.

    The trio, in the second of a short group tour, ran one after another in a song circle. I don't know many of the songs, so my titles are not definitive:
    Dave: "My Town" (reminds me of Neko Case's ode to Tacoma)
    Karen: "Surprise"
    Bill: "Weightless"
    Dave: Cars driving in a circle
    Karen: When I was Three
    Bill: Radio
    Dave: talk radio (Dave has a smirk. everything has a smirk. Wouldn't that be a good name for a rock band: SMIRK)
    Karen: When I was apprenticed in Belfast...Blow the candles out (off her new celtic album)
    Bill & Karen: Matching Luggage (duet)

    Dave: My father's decided to run a marathon
    Karen: Rosalee
    Bill: Sistine Chapel
    Dave: Turds in the street (on piano)
    Karen: On the way home (co-wrote w/Jeff Talmadge
    Bill: The hole in our town
    Dave: Winter (on piano, a nice sorta Charlie Brown jazz arrangement)
    Karen: Mercury's Wings (my request)
    All Three: Stephen Foster's Hard Times Come Again No More
    Bill: "Hobos in the Roundhouse"

    All Three: "Good Night, Irene"

  • Welcome to the Banquet

    12 Apr 2006, 18:35 by jcshepard

    Last week I broke a drought, engorging on a banquet of live and recorded & folk Americana. Despite my best attempts at self-discipline, my music acquisitions tend to be feast-or-famine. I've had a dry spell this last year, about 14 months in the desert of the Midwest actually. I will not bore you with the details.

    I played thru my Tom Russell ahead of his show last week, and thru the new (old) discs I picked up at the show (my blog about the show, if you care). Then this weekend I saw Duluth's Bill Isles, with Kerrville Folk Festival songwriting winners Karen Mal & David Stoddard closer to home (review to come). They probably won't dominate my charts the same way, tho. It's nice out--besides losing 2 days gone (up to the Tom Russell show) when it gets nice in Minnesota you got to take advantage of it and get out of doors while you can.

    Anyway, I pigged out: on, at St.Cloud's Electric Fetus CD shop, at the shows.

    Hank Williams III and Graham Lindsey new discs. Didja know you can pay extra and get imports off Amazon? This fool and his money were soon parted, but worth every penny. Hank III is not for the faint of heart, but you knew that. I hope Graham sees at least one of those pennies as they’re converted to Euros and back again.

    Shooter Jennings' Electric Rodeo was on sale at Electric Fetus same price as Target or Best Buy. If you're ever in the Twin Cities area, hit one of these indie music stores. Although I was tempted by many selections in the used disc bins, I found Townes Van Zandt's Union Cathedral double live CD for reasonable new. I had to get this bookend for Live at the Old Quarter Houston, Texas. There's a new Townes Van Zandt group on, too. Go join.

    I hit the Clarks going thru my library boxes: Texas legend Guy Clark & Colorado songwriter Barbara Clark. Barbara is a favourite of 3rd Coast Music's John Conquest, She's rumoured to be writing again.

    With fewer overall spins, a couple other artists rose to the challenge:

    * David Rodriguez came my way by an old Americana DJ contact from Recovery Recordings. David is a very talented Texas songwriter who has been in self-exile in the Netherlands the past few years. Altho it’s in my tops for last week it deserves more attention to really sum up the original material. Oh, and btw, he's Carrie Rodriguez' daddy, which in itself makes me sit up and listen close.

    * Otis Gibbs floated thru Fort Collins before I left KRFC. I didn't realize at the time that he was hooked in with the folks behind Catamount Record's HUAC collective. I'm not a fan of his 1930s socialist union politics, but the man can write and sing a country song.

    * an american starlet, out of the Seattle area, is difficult to pigeonhole. Sorta cosmic cowboy, jamgrass but not really Found 'em again poking around myspace. I didn't take to their Duchess of Hazard disc when if first came out, but the longer I've listened the more it's grown on me.

    Well, lunch is over and the real world beckons. Hope you enjoyed this week's Americana music buffet.
  • Tom Russell at St.Cloud, Minnesota, 5Apr06

    9 Apr 2006, 21:42 by jcshepard

    Tom Russell & Michael Martin
    Bo Diddley's Deli, St. Cloud, MN, Wed 5 April 2006

    An artist like Tom Russell knows how to tailor his show to the venue and crowd on any particular evening. Acoustic music shines in small clubs, preferably with a well-stocked bar and well-run sound. Bo Diddley's Deli in St. Cloud, Minnesota, is all of that plus great sandwiches, despite the strip-mall location just blocks off the campus of St. Cloud State University.

    Russell's usual side-man Andrew Hardin is off the road, so he was joined by San Antonio guitar-man Mike Martin (of the roots-rock band True Infidels). In between heart-felt songs of love and living, Tom chatted up the intimate early-spring crowd with tales of the '60s folk scene and meeting Johnny Cash in Switzerland, his Midwestern family roots and impressions of modern media, culture, and small town cuisine.

    While I first started listening to Tom Russell for his songs, and I know he's mostly considered a artist, one new song in the lineup (unrecorded best I can tell?) was particularly on cue concerning the state of modern music. I found these lyrics online, looks about right:

    THE DEATH OF Jimmy Martin

    Words and Music, Tom Russell

    There's a hound dog running all alone through the piney woods
    The howlin' tears the soul out of me
    There's a jay bird calling up a funeral dirge
    In ragtime harmony.
    Barb'ry Allen rolled over in her grave all morning
    There were roses growing out of her head
    Hey, God's gonna burn down Nashville tonight
    Jimmy Martin's dead
    Ah, the great Jimmy Martin's gone dead

    You got twenty twenty vision but you're walkin' 'round blind
    You Grand Ole Opry fools
    With your hypocritic judgments and your self righteous snobbery
    And your God Damned false hearted rules.
    You scorned Hank Williams and you shunned Jimmy Martin,
    Boys who sang with tongues of fire.
    Hey god's gonna burn down your Grand Ole Opry
    Hear the screaming of the hypocrites and liars
    They feel safer now that Jimmy has expired.

    Run, Pete, run, your master's callin' you,
    He's waiting on up ahead
    Hey, don't look back, 'cause Nashville's burnin' down
    Pete, Jimmy Martin's gone dead
    The great Jimmy Martin's gone dead.

    Well, don't call me no country singer
    Those are poison words to me
    'Cause I ain't heard a good country song
    Since 1973.
    The King of Bluegrass has died for your sins,
    The Whore of Babylon's sleepin' in your bed.
    And God's gonna burn down Nashville tonight, boys,
    Jimmy Martin's dead
    The great Jimmy Martin's gone dead.

    Run, Pete, run, your master's callin' you,
    He's waiting on up ahead
    Don't look back, Nashville's burnin' down
    Jimmy Martin's gone dead
    The great Jimmy Martin's gone dead.

    There's a hound dog runnin' all alone through the piney woods
    The howling tears the soul out of me...

    Russell is touring in support of his new album, Love and Fear, currently shooting up the Americana Radio chart. He is scheduled to appear on Late Night w/David Letterman Wed 19 Apr 06.

    Tower Of Song
    Pugilist at 59
    Beautiful Trouble
    Stealing Electricity
    Seven Curses
    Russell was heading back home after his St. Paul & Duluth gigs, going to catch Bob Dylan & Merle Haggard in El Paso.
    Russell kept asking the soundman to turn up the volume on his guitar lead. "They say, 'If it's quiet, it's Folk music. If it's got a Telecaster, it's Country music.'... They're all just songs."
    Next Thing Smoking
    Hotwalker/Dave Van Ronk story
    Rider On An Orphan Train
    When Irish Girls Grow Up
    Tonight We Ride

    By request: Blue Wing
    Johnny Cash story
    Ballad of Ira Hayes
    Beyond the Blues
    Ian & Sylvia Tyson story
    Navajo Rug
    The Death Of Jimmy Martin
    "Holy Cats!" It’s the famed St. Cloud loose beef sandwich!
    California Snow
    Emmylou Harris's Red Dirt Girl
    It Goes Away
    Bucking Horse Moon
    Throwin' Horseshoes At The Moon
    Veteran's Day medley into Haley's Comet by request, for the home-school girl in the back. She knew all the words.

    Encore: Scottish Mike story
    The Road It Gives, the Road It Takes Away