It’s become a wonderful tradition for South By Southeast concert goers in Myrtle Beach. Right about this time of year, the Randall Bramblett Band – and we’re talking the full band here – head to the Grand Strand for a fast-paced, high energy show at the historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot. And when I tell you they blow the roof off the place, that Davis Causey’s guitar work defies description, that Michael Steele is a monster on bass, I’m not exaggerating.
Randall Bramblett has performed and recorded with Sea Level, the Allman Brothers, Steve Winwood,Traffic, Levon Helm, Bonnie Raitt, Widespread Panic, Gov’t Mule and more. His tunes have been covered by scores of others. In fact, Bonnie Raitt is covering his “Used to Rule the World” from Randall’s 2008 Now It’s Tomorrow CD on her next release. It’ll be the lead track and the second single to be released. Plus, they co-wrote another tune together that will be one of Starbucks’ free releases.
Randall Bramblett is a multi-talented icon in the music business. He’s more than proficient on guitar, saxophone and keyboards. His raspy vocals are passionate and soulful to the bone. But songwriting for this Jesup, Ga. native is akin to breathing, and that’s what I wanted to talk to him about during our telephone interview last week.
He was happy to oblige.
“I have a lot going on,” he tells me. “I’ve been writing, getting ready to put out another album. I’m in the process of demo-ing songs that I’ve written since The Meantime [his beautifully sparse 2010 recording that featured Randall on grand piano, Gerry Hansen on drums and percussion and Chris Enghauser on upright bass].
“I think I have enough for a record. I have to figure out a direction now.”
Did Randall write his songs as a concept album, I wanted to know.
“I’ve never done a concept album. They have a ‘feel’ after the fact, and I always like to think of it as an ‘album’ even with single downloads.
“The thing with me is I have so many different styles. My songs can be folkie or funky gospel or something else. But I don’t want the album to be too disjointed. A lot of it comes together from the players.
“But [for this next album] I’ve got a lot of strong bluesy R&B going on.”
It makes sense, when you consider that Randall grew up in the heart of soul country in southern Georgia, where he counted James Brown and Ray Charles among his musical heroes. Further influenced by artists such as James Taylor and Carole King, Randall began writing songs while still in high school.
In college at the University of North Carolina, he studied religion and psychology. But shortly after graduating, he moved to Athens, Ga., where he made contacts and honed his skills in the “Liverpool of the South.”
I’m always curious to learn how songwriters work at their craft … whether it starts as an idea or a line or a piano riff…
“I don’t write like Tin Pan Alley writers do,” Randall told me. “I don’t have an angle. Basically, I sit at my computer, two actually. One is for lyrics and one is for music.
“I’ll have sheets of paper with ideas from journaling written all over them.
“I usually write with a vignette or scene in mind. It’ll have some meaning, but I hardly ever write a story. I write more mood stuff.
“It’s similar to poetry, I think, hard to define … it has some openness to it.”
“Jason usually gets it started and I finish. He comes up with some great lines,” Randall laughs as he explains. “We still write together, on two acoustic guitars.”
“No More Mr. Lucky [released in 2001 and produced by John Keane of Widespread Panic] was my first record for New West Records,” he continues.
Another beautifully written album, it served notice that Randall Bramblett had achieved a new level of songwriting. Soulful blues, jazz, funked up rock and a Southern sensibility meld together in a standout recording.
The album’s opening track, “God Was In the Water,” feels dark and desperate, a spiritual longing or questioning, a feeling of being lost – recurring themes in Randall’s work. Written by Randall and Davis Causey, Bonnie Raitt covered the tune on her 2005 Souls Alike album.
Other notables include the uptempo “Get In, Get Out,” “Lost Energy” and Aching For a Dream, a tune about life choices, Neal Cassady and the Beat generation.
“I called Carolyn, Neal Cassady’s wife,” Randall says. “I found her on the Internet. She had a website devoted to Neal. She objected to my lyrics. She said he didn’t die counting the railroad ties in Mexico. She says Ken Kesey started all that.”
One thing all Randall Bramblett songs have in common is their emotion. I find it impossible to listen without feeling something.They push, they pull. They ask questions. They insinuate. They make me feel. Something.
The date for this year’s show is Saturday, March 10. The show starts at 8 p.m. And it will be SRO. If you don’t have a reservation yet, stop reading and shoot off an email with the number in your party to SouthxSoutheast@aol.com.
Music Feasts are $25 per person ($20 for SxSE annual concert series members).
Admission fees include a range of potluck meals and often homemade dessert (to which you are invited to contribute), wine, beer, soda and coffee. The Myrtle Beach Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway in Myrtle Beach. For more information, or to join the nonprofit group, log onto http://www.southbysoutheast.org.
SxSE presents Barefoot Movement at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot, 8 p.m. Feb. 18.
The folks over at South By Southeast have planned another wonderful night of music for us. The Barefoot Movement is a group I haven’t seen live yet, but I’ve been listening to
their music and I’m looking forward to the show. They’re a quartet of accomplished acoustic musicians who seamlessly meld old-time Southern music with Americana, jazz and even modern rock.
Players are Noah Wall (lead vocals, songwriter, fiddle); Tommy Norris (mandolin and harmony); Quentin Acres (guitar, vocals, songwriter); and Hasee Ciaccdo (upright bass and harmony).
The group’s sweet energetic vocal harmonies are supported by topnotch instrumentation. I was tempted to label them as bluegrass or maybe “new grass,” but after talking to Noah on the phone earlier,I’ve changed my mind.
“In the world of bluegrass,” she explained, “people are very particular about what’s included. We like to experiement. We call ourselves an eight-legged bench with our feet going in different directions. We don’t want to close the door to any kind of sound we might make.”
Whatever you want to call them, this group is on the rise, one to watch. So, once again, Trust the Frog.
The opening act, which starts at 7 p.m., is folk duo Debbie Daniel and Jack McGregor from the Columbia, S.C. band, Slap Wore Out.
Music Feasts are $25 per person ($20 for SxSE annual concert series members). Admission fees include a range of potluck meals and often homemade dessert (to which you are invited to contribute), wine, beer, soda and coffee. Reserve your spot by sending an email to southxsoutheast @aol.com, with the number of tickets you need and your zip code. They’ll put you on their A list.
The Myrtle Beach Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway in Myrtle Beach. For more information,log onto http://www.southbysoutheast.org.
On Jan. 31, 2010 drummer Yonrico Scott was onstage at the L.A. Convention Center for the pre-telecast award ceremony of the GRAMMYs accepting the award for Best Contemporary Blues Album for the Derek Trucks Band. On Dec. 3, he and his own Yonrico Scott Band will hit the stage right here at the historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot for the final South By Southeast Music Feast of the year.
This is why I “Trust the Frog.” The folks at SxSE spend their time scouring the road not taken by the mainstream bandwagon to bring us some of the country’s most respected singer/songwriters and musicians, most of whom aren’t household names to the public, but are well-known to other musicians.
Yonrico Scott is one of this talented community of musicians. He played with the Derek Trucks Band from about 1993, he guesses, until the band went on hiatus late last year so Derek could form a new band with wife Susan Tedeschi. He has toured with Peabo Bryson and Earl Klugh and played with greats like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Freddie Hubbard and the Allman Brothers Band.
In a telephone interview earlier this week, we talked about his GRAMMY experience, his career and his passion for art.
As a child, Scott was greatly influenced and encouraged by his mother Ruth Naomi Scott, a gospel singer who grew up in Detroit. She was a member of the Detroit Harmonettes and it sounds like she cherished her son’s budding talent.
“She was truly an angel,” says Scott, “always encouraging me. I started playing drums at about five years old.”
By age 14, he was studying with Motown drummer George Hamilton. At 15, he recorded “Message From the Ghetto” with The Sons of Truth for the Stax gospel subsidiary.
He went to college in Kentucky, studying drums and percussion with Chicago Symphony classical percussionist Patrick Arnold and classical timpanist Dave Davenport. Scott says his classical study is the reason that he is the drummer he is today.
Upon moving to Atlanta, Ga. in the late seventies, he immediately met guitarist George Greer, who turned him on to the neighborhood arts center. Connections made there helped get his foot in the door of the jingle business, and he started doing work for Atlanta mogul Ted Turner.
Sometime in 1992 or 1993, he had a call from Col. Bruce Hampton (Gov’t Mule) with the news that then 14-year-old Derek Truck was looking for a drummer.
“The first time I heard him play, I knew this was big,” Scott tells me. “The first year we played 320 dates. We did all the small cities.
“A lot of people don’t know, but when I started with DTB, we were doing bebop … all sorts of stuff.”
Because DTB took a regular hiatus, Scott was able to play with his own Yonrico Scott Band, which includes Kofi Burbridge, keys/flute; Todd Smallie, bass; Mace Hibbard, sax; Nick Johnson, guitar; Laura Reed, special guest vocalist; and many other players on different occasion. YSB’s debut release, Turning the Corner, a 12-track disc of mainly jazz instrumentals, was released in January, 2004.
His first touring job was with Peabo Bryson and Patti LaBelle. Through Bryson, he connected with Broadway and spent several years working in productions such as The Wiz, Dream Girls, Les Misérables and Five Guys Named Mo, which featured the music of Louis Jordan.
What was it like getting a GRAMMY, I wanted to know.
“I loved it. I walked the red carpet with Ringo Starr on my right and Mick Fleetwood on my left.”
He continues, “Derek had been really cool with it, said he wasn’t going to go, so I said that I was thinking of going and Derek asked me to represent the band, so then it was official. I was going!”
Scott kept a GRAMMY journal about the experience that’s posted on the Derek Trucks Band site. It’s a great read. I love how much fun he’s having with it. Here’s just a snippet:
“I get the award and I’m trying to stay composed on stage but in my mind, I’m freaking out! A lot of the other winners seemed so relaxed when we won, but for me it was just such a huge deal. I had this Grammy in my hand and I was just blown over! Right now I still think it’s a dream and I just wonder when the dream will be over.”
Throughout all Scott’s stories (and he has many), I was impressed by just how jaded he is not. He is embracing every experience that comes along.
“After I got the Grammy, I decided I wanted to do another album. I started in March of 2010, and I finished about three months ago.”
Scott is very excited about the new recording, Be In My World, which he expects will be released in early 2012. Players include his sister Ronda Scott (they sing a duet); vocalist Laura Reed from South Africa; Derek Trucks; DTB bass player Todd Smallie; DTB vocalist Mike Matteson, jazz guitarist Grant Green Jr.; virtuoso bassist Joseph Patrick Moore; singer/songwriter Diane Durrett and more. Three of the tracks are written by funk keyboardist Reverend Oliver Wells. Scott himself wrote several tracks.
“There are 15 original songs and a cover of Buddy Miles’ “‘dem Changes,’” Scott says, “and this is the first recording with me as a lead vocal. So that’s me on vibes, percussion, singing and drums. The album, titled Be In My World is a tribute to Buddy Miles.”
Art is another passion for Yonrico Scott. “I was always drawing and making stuff, as a kid.”
Once again, his mother was at his side, encouraging him.
“‘You can have the upstairs. Do whatever you want,’ my mother told me,’ Scott laughs.
“Then, when I started with Derek, we were making up set lists and I started drawing on them. We would make color copies for the band, and then for some of the fans. And now they’re collected all over the place.”
Scott is a prolific artist, painting drum heads for his many gigs along with paintings.
“I’m not a trained artist,” he continues. “I’m making a statement . . . One of my biggest idols was Howard Finster [legendary Atlanta folk artist known for his 1980s album designs for groups like R.E.M. and Talking Heads]. He told me to keep doing my own stuff. Don’t take lessons. So that’s what I do.”
This past October, when visionary artists Alex and Allison Gray, known for their psychodelic album covers, came to Atlanta’s inaugural Visionary Arts Fair, Yonrico was part of it.
“I was playing drums, wearing a crazy suit. I loved it.”
So much is happening for Yonrico Scott these days, it’s hard to keep up.
“The biggest thing for me right now is a new band. I’ve been invited to join the Royal Southern Brotherhood with Cyril Neville, Devon Allman and MIke Zito with Charlie Wooton on bass. The band will debut at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, and we have bookings through Dec. 2012.”
Joining Scott at the SxSE gig will be jazz keyboardist Buzz Amatto, guitarist Randy Honea, and Ted Peccio on bass. Something tells me this is going to be a genre-jumping adventure, and I can’t wait.
Music Feasts are $25 per person ($20 for SxSE annual concert series members). Reservations are suggested. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the number of tickets and your zip code. They’ll put you on their A list.
The Myrtle Beach Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway in Myrtle Beach. For more information about the SxSE event,log onto http://www.southbysoutheast.org.
Note: I loved talking with Yonrico Scott, and there’s a lot more to the interview, so I plan to organize my notes and add some of them to this blog post soon.
Curtis Richardson was old school Myrtle Beach. He played drums with the Chainsaws, who love to tell you that they’re tuned and lubed for your listening pleasure, so right there you can get a sense of the guy.
According to his pal, Charlie Newell – bass player for the Chainsaws – he and Curtis were friends for decades.
“Curtis was a mouthy little kid who used to follow us around a lot,” Charlie laughs, although a bit sadly.
“He’d follow us into bars and clubs when he was maybe 14 … He wound up being just a phenomenal drummer … I used to call him The Human Metronome … He was just unreal … loved the odd timing, which made it especially challenging for a bass player!
“A lot of local musicians came through his little jam room. It was a great gathering place.”
Last December, Curtis sat in for a set with Nashville’s Mike Farris at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot during a South By Southeast Music Feast. It was a lot of fun.
Unknown to everyone, even himself, Curtis was having heart problems. And shortly after that, in January, he died unexpectedly, leaving his family in a precarious financial situation. Some of Curtis’ buddies have come together to honor him and help the family at the same time.
Old friend and extreme bassist Steve Bailey will be there. Soulful songwriter Chuck Cannon will be there, too, all the way from Nashville. Also on the roster are Keith & Ann Thompson, the Mullets, Phyllis Tanner & Steve Russell, Tom Yoder, Kid Drew & Lynwood Salvo and Regime (Anthony Zincone).
The May 22 benefit takes place at Inlet Affairs, 4012 Business 17 in Murrells Inlets, S.C. It starts at 5 p.m. Donations are $25. There’s a cash bar and food. (Remember, it’s a benefit for Curtis’ family). This is going to be a great night of music. We gonna lay down a groove for Curtis.
South By Southeast has put together another tasty Music Feast and I’ve been craving it since the show was still in the discussion stages. For my money, no one has a better story to tell than the singer/ songwriter, and this time around there are two of them – Eric Brace and Peter Cooper.
This pair has been touring, recording and performing together since 2004, which is also the year Brace moved to Nashville. They have quietly created a loyal following of Americana buffs who share their love for songwriting and harmony.
They’re touring in support of two new recordings, Master Sessions and Cooper’s solo effort, The Lloyd Green Album.
I talked to them last week as they were heading from Portland Me. to Northampton, Mass. to open for John Prine. In addition to penning tunes, these guys are respected journalists. Eric Brace is a former columnist for the Washington Post. He covered the city’s night life and music scene. Peter Cooper is a music writer for the Tennessean, the daily newspaper in Nashville, Tenn.
“Many may decry this fact,” Cooper laughed during our conversation, “but we have day jobs. Most musicians have day jobs and mine puts me right there in the music every day … interviewing people like Kris Kristopherson and others … it keeps me thinking.”
Google his name and you’ll find blog posts, interviews and newspaper stories about some of Nashville’s biggest stars. You’ll also find some great quotes about the latest CD out from this dynamic duo, Master Sessions released last year on Brace’s Red Beet Records label.
“The harmonies are unforgettable, classic and touching. One of the irresistible surprises of the year,” said Jim Morrison with No Depression (Visit www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/eric-brace-and-peter-cooper for a great interview and video clip.)
“This album’s title is no misnomer,” says American Twang, which puts the CD at No. 8 on its list of Top Ten Not Quite Country Albums.
“Eric Brace and Peter Cooper sound as if there were born to play together,” comes from ToxicPete.co.uk. Oh wait, looks like that one’s about an earlier disc, You Don’t Have To Like Them Both ( Red Beet Records 2009).
Getting back to Master Sessions, the disc features two of the duo’s longtime musical heroes – Lloyd Green on pedal steel and Mike Auldridge on dobro. These two names may not be on the lips of America, but bluegrass, country and Americana fans know them well. Green is one of the most respected pedal steel guitarists around. He’s played with the Byrds, Paul McCartney, George Jones, Charlie Pride and Alan Jackson.
Auldridge was a founding member of legendary bluegrass group, the Seldom Scene and more recently with Darren Beachley and the Legends of the Potomac bluegrass band.
“Eric and I used to go see Mike with the Seldom Scene,” Peter says. “He is the most inventive player!”
The album’s first track is “Wait a Minute,” a tune well-known to fans of the Seldom Scene. According to Cooper, it wasn’t a chart hit, but it was big. “We needed a third vocal,” Peter continued, “and we knew Kenny Chesney was a big Seldom Scene fan, so Eric texted him and he said he was honored to perform on a CD with Mike Auldridge.”
Longtime South By Southeast fans may recall Brace’s last visit to the Train Depot.
“I came with my band, Last Train Home, in 2007, and it was one of the best shows we ever did,” said Eric. “I mean that, it was one of our best shows ever … and Jeff Roberts … well, you can imagine some of the people you meet … Jeff was one of the all-time greats.”
I can hear him smile as he thinks about the former director of South By Southeast, who passed away suddenly in January 2009. It still hurts, doesn’t it? I think that Last Train Home show was one of the ones that Jeff nagged me to see, but I missed it. And, once again, I should have Trusted the Frog, because I’ve heard some of their music and I would have loved seeing this rockin’ roots band.
However, I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll be at the Train Depot for this show!
Tickets are $25 or $20 for annual SxSE concert subscribers. (Send an email with your name, number of tickets requested and your membership status to email@example.com.)
Along with an incredible night of music, your ticket includes a potluck dinner and dessert, wine and beer from New South Brewery, soft drinks and coffee. Feasting begins at six o’clock and the music starts at 7 p.m.
Players on the Master Sessions CD are: Mike Auldridge – dobro; Richard Bennett – guitars, octave mandolin; Eric Brace – acoustic guitar, vocals; Peter Cooper – acoustic guitar, vocals; Lloyd Green – pedal steel guitar; Jen Gunderman – keyboards, accordion; Pat McInerney – drums, percussion; Dave Roe – bass; with Jon Randall – harmony vocals (2, 5, 11); Julie Lee – harmony vocals (4, 7, 8, 11); Kenny Chesney – harmony vocals (1).
Players on The Lloyd Green Album are: Peter Cooper (acoustic guitar, vocals), Lloyd Green (pedal steel guitar), Richard Bennett (guitars), Jen Gunderman (keyboards, accordion), Pat McInerney (drums, percussion), Mark Horn (drums) and harmony vocals by Kim Carnes, Rodney Crowell, Pam Rose, Fayssoux Starling McLean, Julie Lee and Eric Brace.
Also coming soon from Red Beet Records is I Love:Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow, a tribute and nod to the 75th birthday of Nashville’s iconic country songwriter Tom T. Hall. The disc is produced by Cooper and Brace, and features the monster talents of Buddy Miller, Patty, Griffin, Duane Eddy, and Bobby Bare. Also performing are Lloyd Green (pedal steel guitar); Jen Gunderman (keyboard, piano, accordion); Mike Bub (acoustic bass) and Mark Horn (drums).
The Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway, Myrtle Beach, S.C. For more information, log onto southbysoutheast.org. And don’t forget to check out these upcoming shows: Saturday, Aug. 6 – Josh Roberts & the Hinges; Saturday, Oct. 1 – Steve Young & Jubal Lee Young; Saturday, Dec. 3 – Yonrico Scott Band.
The big news, boys and girls, is that SxSE – my favorite nonprofit music organization – has finally received their 501 (c) (3) status. That means the I.R.S. formally recognizes them as a nonprofit organization and when you join or make a donation, you can declare it on your taxes. (Hey Jeff, we’re legal!)
Upcoming Shows (These will be SRO, so order your tickets yesterday!)
Dec. 4. The amazing Mike Farris brings his rockin’ gospel back to the Train Depot. Mike Farris has been part of the Delbert McClinton Cruise (and will again for 2011). He’s played Bonnaroo, SxSW, Austin City Limits. I’m here to tell you, he’ll take your breath away.
Jan. 15, 2011. Johnny Mac & the BootyRanch. You may know the Rev. Dr. Johnny Mac from the Jumper Cables. Well the Booty Ranch – made up of Johnny on guitar and vocals, Chris “Mega” Watts on bass and vocals, and Stevie “Fatback” Kent on percussion and vocals – have been burning it up in Charleston since about 1998. The genre-jumping trio covers electric blues, R&B, funk, rock and swamp. Exciting stuff!
March 5, 2011. Randall Bramblett Band. Can you hear me shouting my excitement? Randall is one of my favorite songwriters ever, and his band blows the roof off the Depot every time. If this is a name you don’t know, Google it and see what you’ve been missing. Randall Bramblett brings together blues, jazz and rock like no one else does.
Visit the South By Southeast website for more information on these shows, and then shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot. You can always Trust the Frog.
How can you not love a group that bills themselves as “tuned and lubed for your listening pleasure”? The Chainsaws have been playing around Myrtle Beach since 1995. The band includes Charlie Newell on bass, Sam Hannaford on percussion and vocals, Michael Perrucci on guitar, Nell Ciaccio on vocals, Keith Thompson on harp and vocals, Jim Thomas on guitar and Curtis Richardson on drums. Craig Ciaccio is the group’s sound guy.
They’re gearing up for their tenth annual Scorpio Birthday Bash, which takes place at Bimini’s Oyster Bar and Seafood Café on Nov. 6. If classic rock, big lovable guys and birthday parties are your thing, you won’t want to miss this shindig. It’s gonna be a blast. The Chainsaws, who individually serve as volunteers and board members of local music organization South By Southeast, cover a wide range of musical genres. Sam Hannaford tells me, “We really like to massage some of these old tunes our own way.” “The Ocean,” by Led Zeppelin is one of those tunes. Willie Dixon’s “Good Mornin’ Little School Girl” is another. You can also expect to hear some Van Morrison, Spencer Davis Group, Curtis Mayfield, Joe Cocker and Atlanta Rhythm Section.
For you lucky Scorpios, there will be a free raffle for birthday gifts. Happy birthday, Saul! Par-tay!
Bimini’s Oyster Bar is located at 930 Lake Arrowhead Rd., Myrtle Beach, S.C. If you need directions, call 843-449-5549.