Tag Archives: Ray LaMontagne

Whetherman’s Weathered Mind

4 Dec



Take one seasoned, bucolic folk artist whose music inspires laid back scenes of pastoral pastures and fresh water streams. Mix this artist with a full band of five additional skilled musicians who infuse even more rhythm and melody to the music. Your end-product: a dozen colorful pieces enriched with apple pie Americana and rustic soul. 

Whetherman is the independent project of musician Nicholas Williams, who, since 2007, has released studio albums under the moniker. Streams and Pastures is the newest release from Williams, who has added five additional band members to complete an efficacious six-person band. Williams (Guitar, Harmonica, Ukulele, Banjo, Mandolin) adds Rachel Murray (Vocals), JP Salvat (Percussion), Alex Hayward (Drums, Misc.), Adam Mantovani (Upright Bass), Eric Brigmond (Keys, Trumpet) and Drew Matulich (Fiddle/Mandolin) to the mix. Quite a stock of instrumentalists, huh? Such cases leave open the potential issue of overcrowding, but Whetherman skillfully balances the instrumentals and creates a relaxed blend of music that hits on folk, country, and Americana roots.

Each song on Streams and Pastures is distinctive. That’s difficult to do. While the music abides by an overarching home cooked feel, Whetherman successfully uses its stock of musicians to develop dulcet individualized music. Let’s hit on my two favorite songs from the album. 

Williams and Rachel Murray sing over initial percussion and acoustic instrumentation. The song is carried by laid back percussion and plucked, airy strings, which help establish an easy-going tenderness and calm atmosphere. It’s highly listenable. You don’t want it to end. In overwhelmingly simplistic terms, the music is just nice. 

“Weathered Mind” is more upbeat and infectious. The country swing is effervescent. The gradual layering of tracks works so well in this song, and the culmination of sound is melodious. The song sounds like it was created by the spawn of Jack Johnson and Ray Lamontagne, tranquil and weightless like Johnson’s acoustic stylings and instrumentally conscience like Lamontagne’s folk. 

Check out the band’s Website, Facebook, Twitter

Folk the World

4 Oct

In sitting down and thinking of folk artists I really like, it became apparent to me that folk is the red-headed stepchild everyone loves to criticize, but secretly enjoys.  Very few artists are “folk.”  James Taylor was clearly a folkie underneath his porous shield of vulnerability, yet he’s considered a singer/songwriter.  The Byrds, The Band and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young all were examples of bands that took folk roots (such as multi-part harmonies and 12 string acoustic guitars) and branched out into a more traditional rock sound and Johnny Cash first and foremost was country.  But I am here to glorify some guys that, although they may dabble in other genres, are folk through and through.

Bob Dylan is the most important single person in music since the 60s.  Period.  The Beatles may have been more popular, the Stones had more swag and Zeppelin was more talented, but as an individual no one influenced music more than Dylan.  On one hand, he was a traditional folk singer, a common man against the world as he became a leader of the counterculture movement with such songs as “Blowing in the Wind” and “The Times They are A Changin”.  Upon seeing just just how wild the Beatles could make the ladies, he went electric and spawned folk rock.  Even later, Dylan borrowed the use of the 12 string guitar and helped to create yet another genre, country rock.  That being said, Dylan remains a folk icon. (The video below is included just because it’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen).

Going in a whole new direction, Mumford and Sons are a folk band and one of my favorite bands of the past year or two.  You may have just heard the name or maybe listened to “Little Lion Man” on the radio but I’m here to tell you to listen to more.  The band has a unique lineup. Lead singer Marcus Mumford usually plays acoustic guitar, singing and also doing percussion with a kick drum (Letterman joked that they would take the money from going on his show to buy a real drummer) and the band also includes a banjo, stand up bass and a keyboardist.  However, they still do change things up a bit as someone will sometimes get on the drumkit and the electric bass will occasionally make an appearance and in the following video, the electric banjo becomes something of an electric guitar.

David Gray and Ray LaMontagne: Hard-Workin’ and Tourin’

15 Aug

When you think of the top folk singer-songwriter’s producing music today, David Gray and Ray LaMontagne appear on the list. And, when you add the hard working sentiment, there are not many current artists who can beat them.

Gray and LaMontagne begin their joint 16-city Summer/Fall tour tonight in Columbia, MD and both release their new albums the following day. Hard working? David Gray is technically still on his Draw The Line tour celebrating the album he released last September. Tomorrow, he will release a double album entitled Foundling and it’s all new material. This is a musician who has a song entitled, “Life in Slow Motion.” Yeah, Gray, somehow it don’t feel real.

And, don’t forget about Ray LaMontagne.

Lamontagne (second from the left) --- courtesy of the artist

LaMontagne’s God Willin’ And The Creek Don’t Rise, named after the Benjamin Hawkins phrase (http://ngeorgia.com/ang/God_Willing_and_the_creek_don%27t_rise), was recorded in only two weeks at LaMontagne’s sylvan home in western Massachusetts. It’s not rushing…sometimes a recording session is just efficient. Well, with LaMontagne’s newly formed Pariah Dogs consisting of Jay Bellarose on drums, Jennifer Condos on bass, Patrick Warren on keys, Eric Heywood on guitar and Greg Leisz on steel guitar, it is hard not to make good music.

God Willin’ is LaMontagne’s fourth studio album and is the first one he has produced by himself. The sound? Calm folk/country, mixed with little portions of LaMontagne’s trademark swing (the first song “Repo Man” is loud). If you like LaMontagne’s soul (music type of soul) this should be in line with expectations.

Review of the album: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128986999

David Gray

Like I said above, Foundling, is a double album. Why he is producing so much music? “A very fertile recording session,” said Gray. Seriously, dude, like rabbits. “These are some of the most dynamic recordings I’ve ever done,” he says. This is all good news for David Gray fans. His brand of folk-rock is infectious and, does not receive any where close to the commercial success it should. Get ready. This release will be good.

Review: http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2010-08-15-david-gray_N.htm

The Tour

Below I will post the full list of dates. I hope to possibly go and see them on the 19th but I will see how that goes. If you do have the opportunity to see them, go. This is a productive combination of musicians.

August 2010
15 – Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion
17 – Mansfield, MA – Bank of America Pavilion
19 – Wantagh, NY – Nikon @ Jones Beach
20 – Camden, NJ – Susquehanna Bank Center
22 – Nashville, TN – Grand Ole Opry
25 – Chicago, IL – Millennium Park
26 – Rochester, MI – Meadow Brook Theatre
29 – Council Bluffs, IA – Stir Cover @ Harrah’s Council Bluffs
30 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
31 – Santa Fe, NM – Santa Fe Opera House

September 2010
1 – Phoenix, AZ – Dodge Theatre
3 – Las Vegas, NV – The Pearl
4 – Valley Center, CA – Harrahs Rincon
5 – Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara Bowl
8 – Los Angeles, CA – Greek Theatre
10 – Berkeley, CA – Greek Theatre

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