THE CACTUS BLOSSOMS: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: EASY WAY is now ready for release. How are you feeling about the project and the reaction you’ve had to it so far?
PAGE BURKUM: Getting a new record out in to the world is a great feeling. People are playing “Please Don’t Call Me Crazy” on the radio and our new songs seem to get a good reaction at our live shows, so hopefully that’s a good sign!

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: DALE WATSON/CALL ME LUCKY

The term ‘Honky-Tonk’ means different things to different people. For some, Honky-Tonk is raw and raucous sub-genre of Country Music. For others, it is a smoky bar with beer-stained floorboards, rowdy patrons, and the constant flow of Country Music. From juke boxes to live music performed by local and traveling musicians, Honky-Tonk bars gave birth to a distinctive style of Country Music. Then again, one can say that Honky-Tonk music helped establish the spirit of a Honky-Tonk bar. So, in this case, it doesn’t matter which came first – both the music and the drinking establishments are now intrinsically linked to each other. However, a bar cannot easily hitch itself to a truck and move from town to town like a Honky-Tonk musician can. This means that the spirit of Honky-Tonk must exist within the music and it is up to the many traveling minstrels to spread its ‘gospel’.  And this brings us to a man who preaches that gospel better than anyone out there: Dale Watson. 

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BOB MOULD/SUNSHINE ROCK

Forty years ago, a Rock artist’s longevity was not something that was guaranteed. The first Rock ‘n’ Roll boom of the ‘50s had been swallowed by the late ‘50s/early ‘60s teen idols. Then those heart throbs were dethroned by the British Invasion. That joyful racket was overcome by the Summer Of Love/Hippy scene of 1967. And so on… Like any industry, the new kids were constantly replacing the old guard, who would then reluctantly slip into the shadows and wait for nostalgia to make them momentarily relevant again. The four Beatles (among others) made it work but a lot of their contemporaries had been left behind, lost in a time warp and destined to play the oldies circuit for the rest of their careers. By 1979, artists and the industry were more understanding when it came to making hit records and extending an artist’s career. However, the Punk movement was initially viewed as a novelty by the bigwigs and while the industry capitalized on Punk’s commercial appeal, they certainly didn’t expect any of the artists to last beyond a two or three-year window, just like any other musical movement that came along since the days of Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. Over time, we have learned that nearly every artist from every genre was capable of something much more than their “15 minutes of fame”. As for the unruly Punk kids, Bob Mould was going to break the mold (semi-pun intended)…

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MANDOLIN ORANGE: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Andrew Marlin


STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: TIDES OF A TEARDROP is just about to be released. How are you feeling about the album and the reaction to it so far?
ANDREW MARLIN: We have been sitting on a few of these songs for a while and there is always a little anxiety and a little relief in releasing new material. Folks seem to be digging the new tunes so far, so I guess some of the anxiety is giving way to relief!

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: GUIDED BY VOICES/ZEPPELIN OVER CHINA

It has been written many times elsewhere, but it must be said again: Robert Pollard is the most prolific artist in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll. When you look back on bands like The Beatles, who put out two albums and a handful of singles per year in their early days, Pollard makes them look like slackers. While his main band, Guided By Voices, and all of his other projects may not have had the cultural impact that the Fab Four had, Robert has still made a huge impact on the Alternative and Indie music scenes. Not only has he influenced a new generation of singer/songwriters, he’s also inspired them to create music as art and music as expression. And while he may not have intended to be a DIY pioneer, he has certainly become one.  I guess that is what happens when you’ve been making music on your own terms for four decades.  While Pollard & Co. have been releasing music since the ‘80s, they don’t belong to any decade – the albums remain timeless.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: PARLIAMENT/MEDICAID FRAUD DOGG

George Clinton is the mad scientist of Funk. He assembles some of the most talented and unique musicians in R&B, Soul, Funk and Rock and creates a sound that is miles ahead of any contemporary Funk band on the scene. Case in point: musicians today are just catching up with what George was doing with Funkadelic nearly 50 years ago. And since Funkadelic always had a fluid line-up over the years, their sound was always evolving. However, Clinton was a prolific leader that felt the need to push his brand of Funk forward. Reaching back into formative years, he reformed his late ‘50s Doo Wop group The Parliaments, renamed them Parliament, and Cosmic Funk was born.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: SHARON VAN ETTEN/REMIND ME TOMORROW

Fourteen years after she released her handmade debut CD-R, singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten is finally receiving the critical accolades that she has always deserved. While the long journey may have destroyed a more impatient artist, Van Etten has taken it all in good stride. In fact, she’s enjoyed the ride. “I’ve always been a fan of the slow build.” Sharon says. “Whether it be with my career, or my songs, or life.” Along the way, music hasn’t been the only thing on her plate – Van Etten has also pursued an acting career that landed her gigs on Netflix’s THE OA and on David Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS revival.  In short, Sharon Van Etten has not been idle in recent times, she’s just been very, very patient.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE KENTUCKY HEADHUNTERS/LIVE AT THE RAMBLIN’ MAN FAIR

Although their name might imply that they may be a Country or Southern Rock band, The Kentucky Headhunters defy categorization. Their sweaty, chest-pounding sound has it’s roots in classic Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country & Western, Blues, and R&B and sounds great in a beer-stained Country roadhouse, a dusty and dry Summer Bluesfest, and in the comfort of your own home. The Kentucky Headhunters play music that sounds like it was grown and harvested deep in the heart of America. The band never plays it safe and always comes out swinging. They are rowdy, rough, and rockin’… and not necessarily in that order. The Kentucky Headhunters are fearless at what they do. And no matter what you call it, The Kentucky Headhunters do it very well.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: ERIC LINDELL/REVOLUTION IN YOUR HEART

Originally from San Mateo, CA, singer, songwriter and guitarist Eric Lindell began his career playing the Bay Area live circuit in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Influenced by the Punk, Indie Rock, and Funk/Soul scenes, his music continued to morph into something that he could call his own. Seeking greener pastures and inspiration, he uprooted and moved to New York. After a short stint on the East Coast, he set his sights on New Orleans and moved there in the late ‘90s. It was in New Orleans that Eric Lindell found his own musical voice. Mixing Blues, Soul, Rock, Funk and a keen ear for a catchy melody, Eric released a few indie releases before signing with Alligator Records and releasing his first album for the label in 2006.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: CHRIS BUTLER/GOT IT TOGEHTER!

Even though you might not recognize his name, you are more than likely familiar with the work of Chris Butler. While his studio work with Tin Huey, Richard Lloyd, the dBs and other bands might have passed some of you by, you will most certainly recognize his higher profile recordings with The Waitresses. Chris Butler was the guitarist and songwriter for the Akron, Ohio-based quirky New Wave outfit and was responsible for penning their hit single “I Know What Boys Like,” as well as their theme song to the cult TV series Square Pegs and the perennial holiday favorite “Christmas Wrapping.” What some may not realize is that while his most high-profile band may have split in 1984, Chris Butler has continued to create experimental music that is entirely unique and charmingly quirky.

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