Get it or forget it – JunkYardFieldTrip, The Empty Pockets, Luke Dowler, Arro

Happy Thursday.  Getting ready to hit the road again on Tuesday to head down to Oklahoma to visit my brother who just returned from a year in Iraq.  After that it’s off for a three-week tour with Jerad Finck.  Life is exciting right now.  We wanted to introduce you to four new artists, so sit back and check them out.

Artist Name:  JunkYardFieldTrip

Album Name:  JunkYardFieldTrip

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Americana

Track Listing:    1.  2 a.m.; 2.  Blind; 3.  Dusty Radio; 4.  Mercy; 5.  Collide; 6.  Lucky One; 7.  Sometime Never; 8.  Why not Me; 9.  We’re all Here

Publicist:  Working Brilliantly

Review:  A lot of bands today are labeling themselves as Americana, when what they are is more 70’s folk rock.  Such is the case with JunkYardFieldTrip.  While they have some elements of Americana, such as amazing fiddle work, their sound is more closely akin to that of 70’s groups like The Eagles and the Little River Band.  The closest they come to a true Americana song is “Collide”   On the other hand, their sound is very soothing and a true breath of fresh air in what can sometimes be a very stale indie market.   Their harmonies, well-crafted lyrics and overall sound place them squarely head-and-shoulders above the majority of their peers.  We really love the upbeat rocking sound of “Dusty Radio.”  Other songs that stand out include “Blind,” “Mercy” (with its Daughtry vibe), “Sometime Never,” and “Why Not Me.”

Recommendation:  If you’re looking for Americana, then this is not the band for you.  But if you want great music and a sound all their own, we highly recommend you Get this album.

Artist Name:  The Empty Pockets

Album Name:  Voices

Label:  MT Pockets Music

Genre:  Americana/Roots Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Voices in my Head; 2.  I’ll Follow You; 3.  I am Strong; 4.  You be the High; 5.  The Bubble; 6.  Need to Know; 7.  Reprise; 8.  Built to Last

Publicist:  None

Review:  Just listening to the first note of this album, and it quickly becomes evident why they are currently charting on seven different Billboard charts and touring with the legendary Al Stewart.  Their music is incredibly well written and performed and the vocal harmonies are outstanding, especially the voice of Erika Brett, which soars heavenward every time she opens her mouth.  This is true Americana.  We can only imagine how wonderful this band would be in concert, and can’t wait until we get the chance to see them live.  There are no weak songs on this album, but we really love “I’ll Follow You,” “I am Strong,” “The Bubble,” and “Reprise.”

Recommendation:  This is a definite no-brainer.  Get it and enjoy.

Artist Name:  Luke Dowler

Album Name:  South

Label:   JED Records

Genre:  Indie Rock

Track Listing:  1. For God’s Sake; 2.  Mercy! Mercy! Mercy!; 3.  A Good man Loves Somebody Else; 4.  Honey Don’t Leave; 5.  Out of my Hands; 6.  Hemingway Romance; 7.  Everything’s Gonna Work out Fine; 8.  Baby, We’re all Monsters

Publicist:  None

Review:  We met this artist at the 2014 Zootown Music Awards, and were impressed with his songwriting and stage presence.  He has now released a new album, and we are pleased as punch to be asked to review it.  Dowler’s music shows his Montana roots and determination as he brings those qualities to the indie music scene.  We will be showcasing his music video for the first track, “For God’s Sake,” in an upcoming Monday Mashup.  His vocals soar over the music, with its steady drums and well performed accompaniment, including a beautiful string arrangement on that first track.  Our favorite tunes include “For God’s Sake,” the rocking “Mercy! Mercy! Mercy!,” “Hemingway Romance,” and “Everything’s Gonna Work Out Fine.”

Recommendation: Definitely take a chance on this Montana indie artist and Get his new album.

Artist Name:  Arro

Album Name:  Freak Show Collaborations

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Indie Pop/Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Circus (ft. Bo Power; 2.  Maze (ft. Josey Marina); 3.  She’s the City (ft. G.R.I.M.); 4.  Keep Moving (ft. Joe Gorman)

Publicist:  Vision Music Promo

Review:  Arro has been making a name for themselves in the UK, resulting in their single “Fever” being chosen by Best of British Unsigned.  They have crafted this short four-song EP with collaborative efforts from other UK bands.  The result is a finely crafted appetizer that leaves you wanting much much more of this tastiness.  We especially love the sound of “Circus,” with its hints of Maroon 5 setting the foundation for a great collaborative effort, as well as “She’s the City.”

Recommendation:  Another artist worthy of your attention, we recommend you Get this EP now.


Get it or forget it – Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers, Helen Culver, JD & the Straight Shot, The Black Hand

We made it to another hump day, which just happens to be the first day of fall.  We love this time of year as the seasons change and we prepare for the winter.  What are your favorite memories of this time of year?  Hopefully some of them will be great music, as we have four new artists to introduce today.  Grab your coffee and let’s get started.

Artist Name:  Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers

Album Name:  Lost Nights at the Leopard Lounge

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Blues and Funk

Track Listing:  1.  No Good; 2.  Trouble; 3.  Leopard Lounge; 4.  Move on Down the Line; 5.  Lost my Mojo; 6.  All I do is Work; 7.  When the Blues Come Calling; 8.  I Didn’t Know; 9.  Blue as Blue can Get; 10.  What the cat Dragged In; 11.  Last man Standing; 12.  Black Cat Boogie

Publicist:  Broads 4 Blues

Review:  There is nothing like a good solid blues rhythm coupled with an amazing female voice that understands the true sound of the blues.  Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers have definitely learned those lessons, and turn in a worthy performance on this song of solid tunes that should be a case study for anyone interested in studying the art of the blues.  They understand that there are different grooves for great blues music, and they have mastered all of those styles on this album.  From the upbeat style of “No Good” to the slow sexy groove of “Trouble” and “All I do is Work” to the funky sound of “Leopard Lounge,” this band brings us some of the best blues we have heard this year.  This is a band that should be the house band for any television show that features the blues, as they bring an authenticity to their sound not normally heard by today’s modern blues bands.  Besides the aforementioned songs, we were also digging the sound of “Move on Down the Line,” “When the Blues Come Calling,” and “What the Cat Dragged In.”

Recommendation:  If you love the blues, you will love this album.  We strongly urge you to Get it.

Artist Name:  Helen Culver

Album Name:  Seven Year Glitch

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Alt-Pop/Electronica

Track Listing:  1.  Ctrl-Alt-Delete; 2.  Drink by Myself; 3.  Red Light; 4.  Selfish Lover

Publicist:  None

Review:  Helen Culver creates the kind of music that house DJs love – a steady beat, great vocals and a catchy chorus that will stick in your mind long after the song has ended.  Her four- song EP is more like an appetizer, leaving us hungry for more.  She provides us with a myriad of alt-pop sounds that stimulate the senses, creating an urgency and desire for additional tasty morsels.  Although short, the EP is packed full of intelligent lyrics, great grooves and enough diversity that most listeners will find something they like.  No two songs sound the same, giving Culver a number of ways to continue delivering great music.  We will be here patiently waiting for the next chapter of this amazing artist.

Recommendation:  You should definitely Get it.  It shows great promise for what is yet to come.

Artist Name:  JD & the Straight Shot

Album Name:  Good Luck and Good Night

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Americana

Track Listing:  1.  Redemption Train; 2.  Ballad of Jacob Marley; 3.  Moonlight; 4.  I Know you Know I Know; 5.  Run for Me; 6.  Shambala; 7.  Good Luck and Good Night; 8.  Tonight; 9.  It’s Your World Now; 10.  Never Alone

Publicist:  Publicity Please

Review:  OMG – Americana will never be the same with the release of the latest from JD & the Straight Shot. Composed of vocalist and guitarist Jim Dolan, bassist Byron House (Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton), violinist/fiddler Erin Slaver (Martina McBride, Rod Stewart) and guitarist Marc Copely (B.B. King, Rosanne Cash), they pack so much experience into a tight package that it has to be good – and it is.  In fact it is so good that they are currently supporting The Eli Young Band, The Doobie Brothers and Chicago on their respective tours.  The chemistry and harmony between Dolan and Slaver is the stuff of Hollywood movie magic, and the musical accompaniment this band of experts puts together puts them at the top of the Americana genre.  Slaver’s fiddle work is also above and beyond, as she brings a quality not heard in many years, reminiscent of Charlie Daniels.  There isn’t a weak song on the CD, but we really love “Ballad of Jacob Marley, “Moonlight,” their amazing cover of Three Dog Night’s “Shambala,” the title track, “Tonight,” and “It’s Your World Now.”

Recommendation:  Get it while it’s hot.  These guys will make a memorable and lasting addition to your musical library.

Artist Name:  The Black Hand

Album Name:  The Black Hand

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Electro-metal

Track Listing:  1.  Every; 2.  Easy to Hate; 3.  Disappear; 4.  Daydreamer; 5.  Where are you Now?  6.  The Thickening; 7.  The American Pastime; 8.  Clarity; 9.  Bliss; 10.  Chosen

Publicist:  Earshot Media

Review:  Los Angeles is often considered to be a difficult town for a musician to shine in as there is so much talent and so much variation in the indie music scene.  The Black Hand hails from Southern California, and has decided to stand out by being hard in a town where soft sells.  Their music is reminiscent of Death Pool, with the requisite sreaming intact, but it is their musical sound that stands out from the plethora of other metal bands.  Absent the screamo vocals, the music is hardcore, well written and even better performed.  Their music could very well be a soundtrack for numerous films and television shows, minus the vocals.  When the lead vocalist does decide to sing, he has a good voice, but looses all credibility (to this reviewer, at least) when he decides to scream instead.

Recommendation:  Unless you are an avid lover of death metal/ screamo music, you’d best Forget this one.


Get it or forget it – Emma Cairo, Steve Azar & The Kings Men, Life Lessons, Jordana Talsky

It’s the last day of summer, and winter is knocking at our door here in Montana.  There is snow on the mountaintops and the night time is already getting cold.  Seems like the perfect time for another edition of Get it or Forget it.  We have four artists for you today, two of which are new to us, and one of which was a country legend.  We hope you enjoy these reviews and will heed our advice when it comes to great music to check out.  Let’s get started.

Artist Name:  Emma Cairo 

Album Name:   In East & West

Label:   North South Sounds

Genre:   Pop/Rock

Track Listing:  1.  In it for the Money; 2.  Stalker; 3.  L.A.; 4.  Muse; 5.  Dirty Dishes; 6.  Colors of the Forest; 7.  Britney Wannabe; 8.  Sandstorm; 9.  Be With Me; 10.  I Don’t Understand; 11.  Monique Says; 12.  Intuition; 13.  Who am I

Publicist:   None

Review:  Emma Cairo hits the ground running on the first track of her new CD, In East & West, and never lets up, as she, very tongue-in-cheek, lets us know she’s “In it for the Money.”  Cairo mixes her Nordic heritage into her indie pop/rock sound to create her own unique musical manna.  We love the piano on the second track, “Stalker,” and the semi-serious conversation within the lyrics between a stalker and his victim.  The third track features an homage to her adopted home of Los Angeles, and also resulted in her first music video for this album.  Suffice it to say that every track of her latest project is worthy of attention, and should help her be able to “stay in L.A.”  Although the album was released in March, Cairo has only recently begun to promote the album due to a myriad of personal reasons.  Regardless of the delay, we are thankful to be able to add this album to our musical library.  Our favorite tracks include “In it for the Money,” “L.A..,” “Muse,” “Colors of the Forest,” “Britney Wannabe,” and “Sandstorm.”

Recommendation:  Get it now and support this amazing transplant.  We are so glad you decided to stay.

Artist Name:  Steve Azar & The Kings Men

Album Name:  Down at the Liquor Store

Label:  Ride Records

Genre:  Delta Soul

Track Listing:  1.  Rena Lara; 2.  Start to Wanderin’ my Way; 3.  Tender and Tough; 4.  Wake me From the Dead; 5.  Down at the Liquor Store; 6.  She Just Rolls With Me; 7.  I Don’t Mind (Most of the Time); 8.  Chance I’ll Take; 9.  Over it All; 10.  The Road Isn’t There Anymore; 11.  The Crossroads; 12.  Ode to Sonny Boy; 13.  Greenville

Publicist:  Play it Loud Music

Review:  Most of you will remember Steve Azar’s huge hit back in 2001, “I Don’t Have to be me til Monday,” but you’ve never heard him like this.  He has returned to his Mississippi roots and added The Kings Men, a group of musicians that have backed such legends as B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Albert King and others.  The result of this musical union is Azar’s first album in five years, and the first album ever recorded at Club Ebony, now part of the B.B. King Museum.  Azar combines elements of blues, country, Americana and R&B to create what he dubs “Delta Soul.”  It is an amazing combination which should return Azar to the lofty heights he once inhabited.  It is packed with hit songs from start to finish, and is the perfect Saturday night party album.  We especially love the horns and the vibe of “Wake me From the Dead,” as well as the genuine down-home goodness of “Rena Lara.”  Other notable tracks include “I Don’t Mind (Most of the Time),” “Chance I’ll Take,” “Over it All,” “The Road Isn’t There Anymore,” and “Greenville,” his homage to his hometown.

Recommendation:  This is the album to Get.  We guarantee there will be no regrets.

Artist Name:  Life Lessons

Album Name:  Best When in Motion

Label:    Triple Crown Records

Genre:  Indie Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Control; 2.  Attention to Detail; 3.  Collapse; 4.  Without Looking Back; 5.  Bury It

Publicist:  Earshot Media

Review:  And now for something completely different, we turn to Life Lessons, aka the boys of Oklahoma.  With elements of punk added to blistering guitar riffs and a pounding beat, they strive to be our go to band for rock nirvana.   Their music will get your head to banging while your toes are a tapping.  They definitely have a radio friendly sound, with thoughtful lyrics for the intellectually inclined.  The only drawback is that just when the beat and the rocky groove have taken root, this five-song EP is over.  Thankfully, we can put it on repeat and listen again.  We look forward to hearing more from these future rock superstars.

Recommendation:  If hard rock with a strong drumbeat is your cup of tea, then this is a must have for your collection.  Get it now before they become so well known that you won’t be able to find it.

Artist Name:  Jordana Talsky

Album Name:  Neither of Either

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Pop

Track Listing:  1.  Run; 2.  Around you all the Time; 3.  Ways; 4.  Sick; 5.  Bitter Sweet Heart; 6.  Spark; 7.  Wave of Emotion; 8.  Neither of Either; 9.  Don’t Know; 10.  You Oughta Know; 11.  You Oughta Know (clean version)

Publicist:  Last Tango Productions

Review:   Jordana Talsky is a voice to be reckoned with and a sound reminiscent of Enya meets Dido, with a healthy dose of Marina V.   Her music has a jazzy vibe that works well with the lilting quality of Talsky’s voice.  In addition, her scatting abilities remind me of Ella Fitzgerald.  Her background of opera and musical theater adds to the dynamic nature of her sound, making her music go down easy like fine wine.  She could easily become your “go-to” sound for your weekly (or daily) chill time.  It may be cliche’ but Talsky is definitely one of those voices who can sell albums by just singing the phone book.  Her voice will take you on a magical aural journey that will leave you with a peaceful, easy feeling.  Just put this one on repeat, relax and enjoy.  Our favorites include “Run,” “Around you all the Time,” “Bitter Sweet Heart,” “Spark,” and her brilliant cover and arrangement of Alanis Morissette’s masterpiece, “You Oughta Know.”

Recommendation:  Definitely Get this one – it will make chill time easier to attain.


Monday mashup 2017: Vol. 35

Well, we survived a fire in the apartment two doors down yesterday that totally destroyed it and caused damage to two other apartments.  Mucho thanks to the Fire Department for getting it out and limiting the damage.

Planning on heading down to Oklahoma next week to see my brother who just returned from a year in Iraq.  Looking forward to the beautiful trip through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Texas on my way to Lawton, Oklahoma.  When I get back I’ll be heading out on tour with Jerad Finck for three weeks.  Our first show is October 16 in Shoreline, Washington, where we will share the stage with Polly O’Keary & the Rhythm Method, winners of the Best Blues Band from the LA Music Critic Awards for the first half of 2017.  We currently have shows scheduled in Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Murrieta, San Diego and Missoula, and hope to add a few more along the way.


Fresh off the release of her new video for “All That I Want,” Nashville’s own Kelly McGrath has signed with U Management and will be embarking on a tour of UK and Europe during October and November.  For more details, subscribe to her email list by visiting her Facebook page to sign up.  She’s doing a music video release/farewell show in Nashville on September 28 at The Family Wash.  Don’t miss your chance to see her before she leaves on tour.


Here’s the latest single, “Secret Crush,” from Bay Area electropop band PARENTZ.  It has a great vibe that’s perfect for your Monday morning.  Please let us know what you think.

Speaking of great vibes, check out “Right Now,” the stunning new single from Becca Richardson.  We simply love her voice and this single, and can’t wait until she releases her album.  We’ll be reviewing it for sure.

For something totally different, check out “Final Step” from Jason Crosby.  It has a very strong Grateful Dead vibe that should strike a chord with those who love classic rock ballads.


Our first new video this week continues in the mellow vein of the preceding artist.  Brandon  Bonine brings us a simple request:  “Remember my Name.”  We love the guitar and the sentiment.  This is his debut single – please let us know what you think.

Mellow seems to be the mood of the day.  Please check out the deep bass vocals of The New Faith in their video for “Fritter Away.”  The musical accompaniment is amazing and the videography is superb.  What do you think?

We close out this week with the first official video from Boomerang, the new album from Blue Élan artist Chelsea Williams.  This one is guaranteed to get your Monday off to a great start.  Please enjoy “Lonely Girl,” an Americana instant classic!


Get it or forget it – Rusty Young, Calico the Band, Andrea Harsell & Luna Roja

It’s Friday again, and time for the release of new albums from two of our indie favorites as well as the solo debut of a rock legend.  Please grab a cup of joe and let’s review these sure to be classic albums.

Artist Name:  Rusty Young

Album Name:  Waitin’ for the Sun

Label:  Blue Élan Records

Genre:  Roots Rock/Americana

Track Listing:  1.  Waitin’ for the Sun; 2.  My Friend; 3.  Honey Bee; 4.  Sara’s Song; 5.  Heaven Tonight; 6.  Hey There; 7.  Seasons; 8.  Innocent Moon; 9.  Down Home; 10.  Gonna’ Let the Rain

Publicist:  None

Review:  Rusty Young was the former lead singer for Poco, and has signed with Blue Élan Records as a solo artist.  He and Poco have reunited for several shows, including a few at this week’s AmericanaFest in Nashville.  His debut solo album, Waitin’ for the Sun, is being released today,   Stylistically, Young’s solo album fits like a continuation of the Poco legacy, and reminds us why Poco is still as popular in 2017 as it was when it emerged from Buffalo Springfield in 1969.  It reminds this writer of the amazing country rock music that sprang forth in the early 70’s from bands like The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Loggins and Messina and the Little River Band.  Although it features the simpler sounds of music without all the added layers, it comes from such a pure place that it makes the listener feel at peace in the world.  We love every song on the CD, but especially the title track, “Honey Bee, “Sara’s Song, “Heaven Tonight,” and “Hey There.”  We also love the instrumental track, “Seasons.”  Welcome back Rusty – we simply love your solo effort.

Recommendation:  If you’re in Nashville, definitely get over to the Blue Élan showcase on September 15 at the Filming Station to check out this amazing artist, and run to your nearest music outlet and Get this album.  You won’t regret that decision.

Artist Name:  Calico the Band

Album Name:  Under Blue Skies

Label:  California Country

Genre:  Americana/Country

Track Listing:  1.  Fine Line; 2.  Cold Cold Love; 3.  The 405; 4.  Roll Away the Stone; 5.  The Leaving Kind; 6.  California Dreamin’; 7.  Free Man (ft. Jason Charles Miller); 8.  Under Blue Skies; 9.  Fly me Away; 10.  Love Gets in the Way; 11.  Come to Me; 12.  Into the Unknown; 13.  Ladies of the Canyon

Publicist:  MSO PR

Review:  One thing that has always set Calico the Band apart from their peers is the incredible harmonies of founding members Manda Mosher and Kirsten Proffit.  That trend continues on the sophomore release, Under Blue Skies, which will only strength their position as one of the premier Americana bands in the world.  It doesn’t hurt that the duo has created their own label, California Country, which supports not only their music, but their vision as well, with the addition of such amazing acts as the Alice Wallace Band, who, like Calico, are multi-LA Music Critic Award winners.  Two of the songs have already been released as videos, “The 405” and “Cold Cold Love,” and the band is showcasing their talent in Nashville this week at AmericanaFest.  This is an album you listen to from start to finish, and never need to skip a track – every single one sets the Americana bar high, allowing Calico to lead by example.  Besides the first two singles, we really love “Roll Away the Stone,” their dynamic cover of “California Dreamin’,” “Free Man,” “Fly me Away,” and “Ladies of the Canyon.”

Recommendation:  If you are in Nashville, definitely check out one of their three showcases at AmericanaFest.  We also strongly encourage you to Get their album and put it on perpetual repeat.

Artist Name:  Andrea Harsell & Luna Roja

Album Name:  Something for the Pain

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Blues/Roots-Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Didn’t do It; 2.  Oh Boy; 3.  Singles; 4.  Singing Angel; 5.  Something for the Pain; 6.  Hush Little Baby; 7.  Teenage Girl; 8.  Hard Times; 9.  Hearts Were Made to Mend; 10.  Like we Used to Do; 11.  Medicine and Chains; 12.  Born in the Valley

Publicist:  None

Review:  When we first moved to Missoula, Andrea Harsell was one of the first local indie artists we met.  We have loved her solo material, but had not had a chance to see her perform with a full band until the recent Flathead Lake Blues and Music Festival.  Her band, Luna Roja, gives her the dynamic edge she needed to add to her amazing voice and incredible songwriting chops.  With the band, she adds a strong roots rock vibe to her bluesy songs, creating a sound that lifts the spirits and gets the toes first to tapping and then onto the dance floor.   Their debut album is a fabulous collection of songs that should serve to elevate Harsell & Luna Roja into the elite ranks of great musical bands.  We especially love “Oh Boy,” “Singing Angel (with its gentle reggae sound),” the title track, “Hush Little Baby,” and “Hard Times.”

Recommendation:  We can hardly wait to attend the CD release show on September 15 at Missoula’s Top Hat Lounge.  If you are anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, we encourage you to join us and to grab a copy of her CD.  It is the perfect culmination to any musical library.


2017 Flathead Lake Blues Festival (day 2) – live performance review

Hope you enjoyed our reviews of day 1 of the Flathead Lake Blues and Music Festival, which featured some of Montana’a best musicians.  The theme for day 2 was “Ladies of the Blues,” and Steve Pickel pulled out all the stops to bring four of the finest and brightest to light up the stage.

First up was Missoula native Andrea Harsell with her new band, Luna Roja.  Harsell has become a Missoula icon with her sound, primarily as a solo artist.  She began hiring drummer Antonio Alvarez and guitarist Nick Hamburg for her gigs, and then asked them to join her as a band.  They hired bassist Michael Rhead to complete the band, and Alvarez came up with the name Luna Roja (Red Moon) because of his Spanish heritage.  They also recorded an album, which will be celebrated with a show at the Top Hat on September 15.  The album will also be reviewed shortly on this blog’s Get it or Forget it series.  Their sound is a mixture of Americana, rock, R&B and blues.  Harsell has a voice akin to Janis Joplin, and it showed on many of their songs, including new tunes “Oh Boy” and “Hard Times,” as well as on their cover of the Sam Cook classic “Bring it on Home to Me.”  The only thing missing was the stage banter, but we are sure that will come as they continue to grow as a band.

Next up was the power-packed sound of Seattle’s Michelle Taylor Band.  If Harsell had the sound of Joplin, then Taylor is the reincarnation.  With her band composed of Robert Morrill on drums, Lissa Ramaglia on bass, Jim Barnes on keys and vocals and her husband, Justin Dean on guitar and vocals, the MTB truly brought the blues home to Polson.  With a mixture of original tunes like “Black Lace” and “Trashy Queen,” and pop hits like Duffy’s “Mercy,” Elle King’s “Exes and Ohs,” Grace Potter’s “Paris” and “Medicine,” Bonnie Raitt’s “Angel From Montgomery,” Tracy Chapman’s “Give me a Reason,” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious,” MTB proved that any song can be stylized as blues.  But what really drove home their exceptional talent was their version of Ike and Tina Turner’s classic “Proud Mary,” which truly allowed Taylor to shine as both a singer and a performer, as she brought Tina’s unique energy to the show.  This performance was one of the pinnacles of the weekend.  Kudos also to both her husband and badass female bassist Ramaglia on their outstanding licks on guitar and bass.  The band also received the first encore of the Festival, and delivered a rousing version of Led Zeppelin’s “Been a Long Time” in response.

The third band for the day was Estelle and the Atomic Jive, who brought something entirely different to this day.  Atomic Jive is reminiscent of a combination of the Royal Crown Review and one of Brian Setzer’s various bands in that they bring an army of sound to the stage.  The band features Estelle on lead vocals, surrounding by the amazing talents of Mike Ruggles on guitar, Lee Cardella on bass, Brian Seagrave on keys, Bob Briley on drums and a horn section that is as powerful as the one from Tower of Power, composed of Russ Hoffer on sax and Mike Baker on trumpet.   Some of the highlights of the show were their version of the “Stray Cat Strut,” the classic jazz standard “Don’t Roll Your Bloodshot Eyes at Me,” Roy Head’s 1965 classic “Treat her Right,” and the theme from the Blues Brothers’ movies, “Peter Gunn.”  This was classic New Orleans jazz-tinged blues, and elevated the musical standard to a new level.

The final act for the weekend was another Seattle band, Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method.  We had the distinct pleasure of awarding them the Best Blues Band trophy for the LA Music Critic Awards for the first half of 2017.  O’Keary was totally taken by surprise, and the band joined in her gratitude for the award.  O’Keary is a red ball of energy, constantly dancing across the stage as she delivers true bad ass licks on her brand new wireless LedBelli Blackbird 6-string bass and vocals that stir the soul.  The band also includes the amazing David Miller on guitar and O’Keary’s husband, Tommy Cook, on drums.  The band performed primarily original material, many of which came from their latest album, Black Crow Callin.‘  Included in their amazing performance were “I Don’t Understand,” “Yours to Lose,” “Red Light,” “Wish You Could See me Now,” “Reconciled,” and “How the Mighty Fall,” which reminded this reviewer of “Mustang Sally.”   They also did a stirring rendition of Eric Bibb’s classic “In my Father’s House.”  Cook laid the perfect foundation on his drums, while Miller proved to be a true guitar aficionado, even playing the guitar behind his head at one point.  The band brought their set and the Festival to a close with an amazing encore with Michelle Taylor and Justin Dean of ZZ Top’s “Tush.”  It was the perfect cherry on top of a super delicious weekend of music.  Special thanks to Steve Pickel and Anderson Broadcasting for bringing these amazing artists to us.  We can hardly wait for next year!!!


2017 Flathead Lake Blues Festival (day 1 – part 2) – live performance review

Welcome back to the second half of our review of day 1 of the 2017 Flathead Lake Blues and Music Festival, held August 18-19 in beautiful Polson, Montana.

The first half segued into the second with a pair of special events.  First up was a drum solo that closed out the set of Off in the Woods and lasted for nearly 30 minutes.  As the drum solo closed out, we were blessed with the appearance of some Salish and Kootenai native dancers, who celebrated the beautiful night and great music with us.  It was a very inspiring time.

Following the native dance, the second half of the day kicked off with the unmistakable sound of the Kenny James Miller Band.  The band was a three-piece blues rock band that featured Heavy D on bass.  These cats came to play, and truly rocked it out on their original”Cup of Joe,” as well as a sterling cover of “Keep Ur Hands to Urself.”  In addition, they provided the perfect accompaniment for Festival organizer Steve Pickel to wail on “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

Next up was Big Daddy and the Blue Notes, featuring the incredible sound of Steve Kelley.  Kelley is a true Montana blues legend with more than 40 years of performing.  He is also the founder of the Flathead Valley Blues Society.  His music is a mixture of blues, rock, zydeco and world genres, and has even earned a nickname for his style – Blusion.    Besides their renditions of classic blues standards they managed to perform three of their own new songs.

The next to last band to take the stage was Jameson and the Sordid Seeds, who have become quite the legend in Whitefish, Montana. Composed of Brent Jameson on lead guitar and vocals, Sean Cooksey on bass, Joshua Glass on drums and Danny Rifkin on keys, they are a traditional blues band who throw in a little rock for good measure, and stole the show with amazing covers of Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix and James Brown.  Despite the late hour, they kept the energy up for the closing band, who didn’t take the stage until after midnight.


Last but certainly not least was Mudslide Charley, a traditional “dirty” blues band with the sound of Delta blues, fronted by the one and only Lee Rizzo on washboard, guitar and lead vocals,  Marco Littig on slide and vocals, Phil Hamilton on harmonica, percussion, saxophone and vocals, Roger Moquin on drums, percussion and vocals and Tahj Kjelland on bass and vocals.  They brought their “A” game and kept the party going until after 1:30 a.m.  One of the most dynamic things about this band is watching the chemistry fly between the members, but especially between Rizzo and Kjelland.  Needless to say, nobody wanted to party to stop.  It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day of music.

Courtesy of Mudslide Charley’s Facebook page

2017 Flathead Lake Blues Festival (day 1 – part 1) – live performance review

We love discovering new bands, and this year’s Flathead Lake Blues Festival proved the perfect location for doing just that.  We were unaware of this amazing festival, and discovered it by accident.  One of the bands slated to play on day 2 of the Festival was the winner of the Best Blues Band category in the LA Music Critic Awards for the first half of 2017.  We had earlier decided to present certificates to all the award winners, and we thought it would be a great idea to present it to the band in front of a crowd.  We contacted Steve Pickel of Anderson Broadcasting, the organizer of the Festival, and he was ecstatic about it.  He invited us to come up and be VIPs for the entire weekend.  Thank you Steve!!!

The first day of the Festival was subtitled “Montana Musicians Review,” and featured 10 Montana bands over a six hour period – very ambitious, but somehow it all came together and only ran about an hour and a half over the schedule.  This review will cover the first five bands to perform, while part 2 will cover the remaining five bands and the special events.

The first artist to take the stage was Missoula’s Andre Floyd and Mood Iguana.  Floyd is an amazing original blues artist who shares his craft throughout Western Montana.  His band included the prolific Dave Griffith on guitar, organ and keys, Ron Reeves on bass and Don Caverly on drums.  Griffith also lent his talents to several other bands throughout the day.  Floyd’s sound is progressive roots-based blues and he brought his best to this performance.  We especially loved his jazzy rendition of the classic song “Our Day Will Come.”  You can catch him playing the Draught Works Brewery stage later this month.

Next up was the Mike Murray Band, who took the music up a notch with their seriously funky style.  Composed of Murray on lead guitar and vocals, Christopher Krager on bass and backing vocals, Marco Forcone on drums and Ryan Wickland on keys, pedal steel and guitar, they joined awesome vocals with some amazing guitar riffs to bring the funk to the Festival.  This is a band that we could see everyday, and never get enough.  They closed their set with a blues number that showed off the funky keys and guitar, and firmly established themselves as a force of music.

The first female-fronted band was next in the person of Halladay Quist, a multi-instrumentalist who completely  wowed the crowd with her stage antics and her incredible mastery of guitar, banjo and electric stand-up bass.  The daughter of musician and would-be politician Rob Quist, Halladay is a ball of energy that never stopped her entire set.  She was joined on stage by her father on acoustic guitar, as well as Dave Griffin on keys and sax, Leif Christian on electric guitar and Bally Lopez on drums  Halladay’s vocals are truly beautiful, and she shares them on music that ranged from country blues to bluegrass to classic rock, including a stunning cover of Jefferson Airplane’s mega-hit “Don’t You Want Somebody to Love.”  One of the highlights of the set was watching her father grin from ear to ear at the talents of his daughter.  Halladay has just released an album that will be reviewed shortly on this blog.  Prepare to be blown away.  She performed several of the new songs during her set, of which we really loved “Let it Burn,” especially in light of our Montana fire season this year.

Leif Christian didn’t have far to go when he finished playing with Halladay, as his band, Ticket Sauce, was the next on the stage.   Joining with his long-time bassist Nathan Talley and substitute drummer, Collin Scott, the Sauce brought it all together with their healthy blend of rock, funk, blues and soul, with a special topping of cool.  They are a party band, and are guaranteed to get any gathering off to a jamming start.  They were especially incredible on their covers of Jimi Hendrix’s “Isabella” and Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.”  They also write some great jams, including “Alone.”  They closed their set out the way they began, funky to the end.

The fifth band to take the stage, and the last one we will cover in part 1 of this review, was Off in the Woods, a dynamic six piece band composed of Jon Schumaker on guitar, Layne McKay on saxophone and guitar, Kyle Daugherty on trombone, Kia Abibzadeh on keys, Kai Salmonson on bass and Nathan Noble on drums.   This band is a true local icon, as their members come from Polson, home of the Festival.  They have a very funky jam band sound, with a touch of reggae.  Some of their best songs included “Blue,” “Early Summer Rain,” and “The River.  The band will have a new album out in the near future.

We’ll be back soon with part 2 of this review, followed by our review of day 2.

Monday mashup 2017: Vol. 34

Good morning, world.  As we reach the 16th anniversary of 9/11, may we all stop to reflect on how our world has changed since that fateful day.  I was preparing to spend the day with my friends from SHeDAISY at a concert they were having in California when I was told by my ex-wife to turn on the TV.  Just as the picture came into focus, I watched in horror as the second plane hit the towers, and then was glued to my set like most of us the remainder of the day.  Alan Jackson summed it up best when he sang, “Where were you when the world stopped turning?”

It was music that helped us recover, and it is music that keeps us going forward.  That is why this blog exists, and why we scour the world to find music that speaks to us.  Make sure you thank those that bring us hope and peace through their music.


Australian American Gayle “Giraffe” Davidson has announced the formation of a new service for indie musicians.  Zoo Music Services provides “the basics of a manager, a booking agent, a publicist, and an assistant.  In a music world that no longer requires a label, artist services are more important than ever.   From the simple to the heavy lifting, Zoo Music is your most efficient and cost effective solution,” explains Davidson.  She has offices in Nashville, London and Los Angeles.  Check out her new service here.


The Festival, which highlights the artists currently working with Wixen Music Publishing, will be held on Saturday and Sunday, September 23-24 from 4 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. each day in the Smothers Theatre on the campus of Pepperdine University in Malibu.  Tickets are $50 each day and can be obtained by calling (310) 506-4522 or visiting

Saturday features an Alternative Voices-focused line-up of alternative rock band Wildling, International Folk Music Awards Artist of the Year Parker Millsap, influential acoustic guitarist Jonathan Richman, and multi-instrumentalist and whistler Andrew Bird.
Sunday features an Americana Voices-focused line-up of wicked country lyricist Mike Stinson, the genre-bending dark folk storyteller The White Buffalo, Nashville country music outlaw Elizabeth Cook, and singular Grammy-winning songwriter Lucinda Williams.
First up today is a new duo called Freedom Baby, which combine elements of orchestral music with electronica and the sweet voice of Brianna to bring us “melancholy tunes to soothe your souls.”  Let us know what you think.


NONA brings us “Father’s Day,” and we like it.  It has a great beat and heartfelt lyrics.  Let us know what you think.


Our final single today comes to us from one of our favorite bands of this year, FlecHaus.  Check out their fourth single, “Lie to Me,” from their upcoming album.  This should definitely put a skip in your step today.


We think you will simply love this innovative video from The Flatliners for their single “Indoors.”  And the song’s not bad either 🙂

For those of you who love the more soulful sounds, check out Matt Allen‘s “Last Time.”  It has a great groove that is much better than the video.

Last but not least today is the latest video from our friend and one of country music’s rising stars, Kelly McGrath.  Her last video met with much success, grabbing the #1 slot on CMT, and we have no reason to doubt that this new video will do just as well.  Here’s Kelly with “All That I Want,” courtesy of Vevo.


2017 River City Roots Festival (day 2) – live performance review

Day 2 of the 2017 River City Roots Festival came early, and we made sure to get there in time for the first band on the main stage, even though they are a “children’s” band.  The Whizpops are one of Missoula’s best treasures.  Even though their songs are written for children, they have become an adult’s “guilty pleasure,” since the music is so well written that it appeals to all ages.

This award winning band has two elementary teachers and a floating mix of other local performers.  At Roots Fest, the line-up included Josh Farmer on keys, founding member Casey Schaefer on electric guitar, talk box and vocals, Christina Scruggs on vocals, Kevin Cashman on acoustic guitar, tambourine and vocals (including rapping), Jeff Stickney on trumpet, Phil Hamilton on saxophone, Steve Kalling on bass and Daniel Kiely on drums.

The band played songs from throughout their career, including their latest project, Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix, Vol 1, which supports the National Wildlife Federation.  Kids of all ages were dancing to their songs about dancing dolphins, great white sharks, penguins and playing freeze tag.  It was a wonderful start to the day, and the large and enthusiastic crowd ate it all up.

Imagine having to follow an act like that?  Lucky that solo roots songwriter Malcolm Holcombe was up to the challenge.  Holcombe owned the stage as he mesmerized the crowd with his storytelling and songs, holding them in the palm of his hands for 90+ minutes.  His latest album, Pretty Little Trouble, was produced by Darrell Scott, a giant in the Americana scene and a previous performer at Roots Fest.  Needless to say the audience loved every minute of his performance, and showed up in droves to meet him and buy his albums from the merchandise booth.

The Ghost of Paul Revere was the next to take the stage, and they wasted no time in pumping up the energy level, keeping the growing audience entertained and engaged.  They played their own unique blend of folk and rock, and included unique covers of both Springsteen and The Who (“Baba O’Reilly”).  They were coming off a string of opening slots for the Infamous Stringdusters, and kept the energy level high as afternoon turned into early evening.  Like Holcombe before them, they proved popular at the merchandise, and sold out their selection of CDs.

The fourth act of the day was the incredible Band of Heathens, normally a five piece country rock act from Austin, Texas.  They were indeed lucky to be with us at all, as they were almost stuck in Texas, thanks to Harvey.  They did have to leave their keyboard player there, but it was because his wife had a baby, and not because of the hurricane.  The band played many songs from their latest project, Duende, including the amazing songs “Sugar Queen” and “Carry Your Love.”  We were so impressed with their material that we recently reviewed that album.  Lucky for the crowd, the band will be coming back in November to play what will probably be a sold-out show at the Wilma.

The Festival concluded with the dynamic sound of Anders Osborne and his electric blues.   This four piece guitar and drums band put the exclamation point on a spectacular weekend of music.  Thanks to all involved and especially Eileen Buchanan for another successful Roots Fest.