Category Archives: Durango Songwriters Expo

Get it or forget it – Canyon City, Monica Chapman, Marc Berger, Alex Mabey

We were so amazed at the level of talent at this year’s Durango Songwriters Expo.  It was our first trip since we moved to Montana, and the talent pool, which has already spawned such acts as Meghan Trainor, Alissa Moreno, Tim Fagan and others just keeps getting better.  Two of our reviews today are artists we saw perform at DSE.  We think all of these reviews will encourage and entice you to continue supporting indie music.

Artist NameCanyon City

Album NameConstellation

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Indie Folk

Track Listing:  1.  Our Way; 2.  Find You; 3.  Midnight Flight; 4.  Like I Did; 5.  Train; 6.  For the Day; 7.  Oh my God; 8.  Satellite; 9.  Run; 10.  Be Scared With Me

Publicist:  Red Boot PR

Review:  Canyon City aka Paul Johnson has a sound smooth as silk, with a dreamy voice that will soothe the listener’s soul and provide the perfect background for a major chill session.  His music goes down like a fine glass of wine, warming your body as his vibe eases your tensions and stresses, creating a truly relaxing feel.  This is music that would be at home on Hot AC and AAA stations, as this music demands radio airplay.  From the first track onwards, Canyon City gives you song after song that will change your mind about indie music.  There are no weak tracks on the album, but we really love “Our Way,” the title track (which is also the first single), “Train,” “For the Day,” and “Satellite.”

Recommendation:  This is a must have for your musical collection.  It will soon become one of your favorites, so Get it now and play it often.

Artist NameMonica Chapman

Album NameSmall World

Label:  Live Records

Genre:  Jazz

Track Listing:  1.  A Shine on Your Shoes; 2.  Goldfinger; 3.  Piel Canela; 4.  Small World; 5.  Caravan; 6.  Baby It’s Cold Outside; 7.  Big Spender; 8.  What Kind of Fool am I; 9.  So in Love; 10.  Orange Colored Sky; 11.  Don’t Explain; 12.  A Foggy Day

Publicist:  None

Review:  Monica Chapman is a Canadian artist who was born in Romania, and teaches jazz in her spare time.  She has gathered a stellar collection of jazz standards and incorporated the incomparable voices of Mike Murley, Reg Schwager and Kevin Turcotte into her sound.  Jazz standards never go out of style, and Chapman has the perfect voice for these songs.   We love great horns, and she uses them to perfection, especially on “A Shine on Your Shoes.”  This is a great soundtrack for your daily or weekly happy hour, and the tunes will surely put a smile on your face.  We love her take on the James Bond classic “Goldfinger,” as well as the Duke Ellington classic “Caravan.”  Other impressive gems are “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “Big Spender,” and “Orange Colored Sky.”

Recommendation:  If you love jazz, then this is a great album for your collection.

Artist NameMarc Berger

Album NameRide

Label:  Real Records

Genre:   Americana/Roots

Track Listing:  1.  Nobody Gonna Ride on the Railroad; 2.  Take it on the Chin; 3.  Ride; 4.  Time Waits for no Man; 5.  Montana; 6.  Twister; 7.  Heavenly Ancients; 8.  Object of my Affection; 9.  Long way from Vixenburg; 10.  A Bottle of Wine, a Suitcase, an Umbrella; 11.  Object of my Affection (instrumental)

Publicist:  None

Review:  Marc Berger has the perfect voice for roots/Americana – full of gravel, spit and determination.  He underscores his gritty sound with a musical background that is soothing, smooth and pure.  The underlying mandolin, accordion, slide guitar and harmonica flow seamlessly with the percussion and acoustic guitar.  This album takes off from the first note and never disappoints.   While every track is wonderful, we particularly love the title track, “Time Waits for no Man,” “Montana,” “Twister,” and “Long Way from Vixenburg.”

Recommendation:  This one is a worthy addition to your Americana collection – Get it.

Artist NameAlex Mabey

Album NameEnough

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Indie Folk/Americana

Track Listing:  1.  Bravest Daughter; 2.  Enough; 3.  Wild and Free; 4.  Soldier’s Wife; 5.  Run to the Edge; 6.  Jesus Was

Publicist:  None

Review:  We met this artist at DSE, and were immediately overcome with the beauty of her voice and the power of her words.  That amazement continues from the opening notes of “Bravest Daughter,” the first track of her EP Enough, as it becomes quickly clear that Alex Mabey has arrived as the new voice in folk/Americana music.  Her songs are well crafted, her voice soars like a bird, and the musical accompaniment is first rate, especially the cello on the first track and on “Soldier’s Wife.”   Our only complaint is that this six-song EP is simply too short – merely teasing us with her greatness.   The title track has such potential for placement in television and film, and creates a yearning for Mabey’s music that can never be fully quenched, but will keep bringing the listener back for more.  “Wild and Free” and “Run to the Edge” likewise grabbed our attention, and deserve serious radio airplay.

Recommendation:  Run, don’t walk, and Get this one now.  It is an absolute must have for your musical library.