AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: STEVE FORBERT/THE MAGIC TREE

Forty years since the release of his debut album, ALIVE ON ARRIVAL, Steve Forbert remains one of the most honest and warm singer/songwriters in Folk, Rock and Americana. Unfairly declared ‘the new Dylan’ for a brief moment in the ‘70s thanks to that debut, Forbert proved himself to be more than just a guy strumming an acoustic guitar at the front of the stage. His hit single “Romeo’s Tune” (1979) became a Top 40 hit thanks to Forbert’s earnest performance, great songwriting and that incessant piano riff. But Forbert was not one to crank out formulaic Pop or Folk – he was always moving forward while still paying tribute to his past. With more than two dozen studio, live, and fan-club albums in his back pocket, Steve Forbert still remains a songwriter that finds inspiration in the every day. His Mississippi soul may have moved to New Jersey but this is one cat that understands and connects with every inch of America.

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STEVE FORBERT: An EXCLUSIVE interview!

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: THE MAGIC TREE is about to be released. How are you feeling about the way it turned out and the reaction you’ve had to it so far?
STEVE FORBERT: I feel pretty good about it. We got the cat ears and legs and tail and whiskers – I think we got the cat in the bag. It’s hard to do.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: COURTNEY HARTMAN & TAYLOR ASHTON/BEEN ON YOUR SIDE

Courtney Hartman and Taylor Ashton were already successful in their respective outfits before coming together as a duo. Hartman, the singer, songwriter and guitarist for Nashville-based Americana outfit Della Mae, met Canadian singer, songwriter and clawhammer banjo player Taylor Ashton when her band crossed paths with his band, Fish & Bird, while out on the road. The two began writing songs together and within four years, they decided that they had enough material for an album. Named after one of the first songs they wrote together, the duo is now releasing BEEN ON YOUR SIDE, their debut album as a duo. On paper, their collaboration may sound like a perfect match but, in reality, it is so much better than that.

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MUNGO JERRY – THE ALBUMS 1976-81 reviewed!

In the U.S., Mungo Jerry only scored one hit song – “In The Summertime” – and most Americans are under the impression that there wasn’t much else by the Mungos beyond that one single. My review of the Cherry Red Records five CD boxset MUNGO JERRY: THE DAWN ALBUMS COLLECTION may have surprised people unaware of those releases. But guess what?  I’ve got an even bigger surprise – Cherry Red has released a second Mungo Jerry boxset containing five more full length albums from the British act! Entitled THE ALBUMS 1976-81, this set veers into Blues/Rock/Glam genres and generally avoids the jug band Folk of their earlier releases.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: GURRUMUL/DJARIMIRRI (CHILD OF THE RAINBOW)

Best known in the U.S. for his work with Aboriginal band Yothu Yindi, blind multi-instrumentalist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (AKA Gurrumul) is the best-selling Australian indigenous musician of all time. His 2009 debut solo album, GURRUMUL, hit #1 on the independent chart and peaked at #3 on the ARIA Charts. The album was eventually certified triple platinum. His sophomore album, RRAKALA, was awarded the Australian Independent Record (AIR) Award for Best Independent Blues and Roots Album in 2011. His third studio release, THE GOSPEL ALBUM, was released in July 2015 and debuted at #3 on the ARIA Charts. The album won him his third ARIA Award for Best World Music Album. And then suddenly, Gurrumul was gone, a victim of kidney and liver disease.

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the innocence mission: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Karen and Don Peris!

SPAZ: When writing an album like SUN ON THE SQUARE, do you tend to let the compositions flow naturally and reveal the album’s direction over time? Or do you have a preconceived idea on where you want the album to head, musically?
KAREN PERIS: We don’t usually have a plan, especially in regards to writing songs. So many songs, for me, begin and then fall away. So, an album builds slowly out of the songs we remain close to after a period of time.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: SONS OF BILL/OH GOD MA’AM

It has been four years since Americana outfit Sons Of Bill released LOVE & LOGIC but the band have not been idle. This quintet – led by brothers Sam, Abe, and James Wilson – remained on the road, promoting their own brand of heartfelt heartland rock. However, touring wasn’t the only thing that slowed them down. The boys in the band took off a little time for themselves, too. Oh, and then there’s that little accident that James Wilson had – a fall on a champagne glass severed five tendons and the median nerve in his right hand. While this is definitely not a good thing for a guitarist to experience, it also hindered his ability to drive, dress himself, and other simple tasks we all take for granted. Thankfully, you can’t keep a good man down…

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE INNOCENCE MISSION/SUN ON THE SQUARE

It’s been nearly thirty years since the self-titled 1989 debut album by The Innocence Mission was released. The album was a slickly produced slice of Folk Pop that was filled with enchanting songs that shimmered regardless of the production value. Throughout the years, the band has continued to create albums filled with beautiful melodies plucked from the rain-soaked side of heaven. SUN ON THE SQUARE, their 10th studio album, is no exception. Tender, minimalistic and haunting, the album strikes the perfect balance between frail and strong, heartbreaking and hopeful, and love and loneliness. In essence, it is everything you’d expect from an album by The Innocence Mission.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: JESSE DAYTON/THE OUTSIDER

Even if you don’t instantly recognize Jesse Dayton’s name, you have probably heard his work over the years. He has created music for some of Rob Zombie’s films (including THE DEVIL’S REJECTS and HALLOWEEN II), played on recordings by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, the Supersuckers, and Willie Nelson, and even filled in for Billy Zoom during one of X’s U.S. tours. And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There’s much more to Jesse Dayton’s career than his work with other artists…

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: TOM RUSH/VOICES

With this 2018 release, Tom Rush doesn’t hesitate to get back to business. Now 56 years into his career as a Folk and Blues legend, Tom may not be prolific but he sure hasn’t lost any of his passion. Like a comfortable pair of overalls or a warm blanket on a chilly night, Tom’s music may be comforting but that doesn’t mean that he plays it safe. On VOICES – the first album in his career consisting almost entirely of originals – Tom Rush presents an album that embraces the spirit of his early recordings with the maturity that time has graced him with.

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