SCOTTY BAKER: Introducing The Band

     When one thinks of Australian music, Rockabilly is not the first musical style that comes to mind. People outside of Oz may initially think of AC/DC’s Hard Rock riffage or Men At Work’s breezy New Wave/Pop but very few know about the Land Down Under’s affection for Country and Roots music. While many Aussie artists are influenced by traditional Australian Roots and Folk alongside ‘foreign’ sounds from the UK and America, there are those that go straight for the jugular and delve into the musical roots of American Country and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Singer/songwriter Scotty Baker is one of those artists.
     Somewhere between the time Country & Western Music became a phenomenon in the early 1950s and the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll at the midpoint of that decade, Rockabilly was born. Essentially a combination of the sounds of Rock and Hillbilly music (hence the name), Rockabilly became the breeding ground for hundreds of artists including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and other artists signed to Sun Records (and other independent labels across the U.S.). These are the artists that inform the music of Scotty Baker and his fabulous new album LADY KILLER, an emotionally charged slice of Rockabilly that feels authentic, passionate and full of energy. Like his first two albums – JUST LIKE THAT (2010) and I’M CALLING IT (2014) – LADY KILLER is filled with fantastic songs straight from the pen of Baker himself. While most would compare him to early Johnny Cash (and rightly so), his music also possesses the emotional depth of Roy Orbison, which is perhaps the most important aspect of his recordings. Scotty Baker doesn’t just play Rockabilly or Country – he lives within the music he creates. He is an artist that adds his own stamp to the tried and true Rockabilly formula and truly shines in the process. LADY KILLER is a Rockabilly treasure that comes from the heart and that is what makes it special.
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to send off some questions to Scotty, who graciously took the time to answer them.

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THE COUNTRY SIDE OF HARMONICA SAM: Introducing The Band

When one listens to contemporary Country Music these days, it bears little resemblance to the traditional sound that helped define the genre decades ago. When Hank Williams, Faron Young, Patsy ClineGeorge Jones and Johnny Cash sang, you could almost smell the beer-soaked wooden floorboards of the old honky tonks coming through your radio. Nowadays, when you listen to contemporary Country Music, all you can smell is the mall. For better or worse, Country Music has gone through many changes over the years and remains one of the most consistently popular – and profitable – genres of music in the U.S. However, while it has been pushed out of the limelight in the States, the traditional Country sound of the ’50s and ’60s remains hugely popular in Europe. Many iconic Country & Western artists that have long since been forgotten in their homeland are revered in countries they probably never set foot in. Ray Price, Marty Robbins, Don Gibson, Marvin Rainwater, Stonewall Jackson and Hank Snow are just a few of the pioneering artists that are seldom remembered by a generation of Americans who were born after the Urban Cowboy-inspired Country resurgence in the ’80s. We must now look to these European countries if we want deluxe reissues and box sets from these Trad Country acts, who seldom have more than a single disc ’hits’ collection available here in the U.S. of A.

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Introducing The Band: RAY MASON

08/25/05 Holyoke Mason- Musican Ray Mason sits with his guitar in between sets at Herrell's Mill Cafe in the Open Square building in Holyoke on Thursday. CUTLINE: 3/6/08 - "It certainly can hurt financially when a gig you were counting on gets cancelled, but at the same time, your need to appreciate the fine art of getting snowed in," said Ray Mason of the Lonesome Brothers. CUTLINE: 3/20/08 - Ray Mason will lead the Lonesome Brothers as they perform at Liston's Bar and Grill in Worthington Friday night.

      There’s a hidden treasure in Haydenville, Massachusetts… and his name is Ray Mason. He’s been an active musician on the scene for more years than many of us have been alive, releasing solo albums as well as serving time as one-half of Americana duo Lonesome Brothers. Ray plays no-nonsense Rock ‘n’ Roll the way it should be played: fresh, exciting and littered with musical references from practically every genre you can think of. When throwing on a Ray Mason album for the first time, don’t be surprised if you hear a sad and sorrowful Country crier followed by a prickly rocker with a Punk edge to it. His music references everyone from Robert Johnson to The Beatles. His early influences can be found on records released by labels like Motown and Stax but don’t be surprised to find some inspiration from the Stiff and Chiswick archives as well. The best way to describe Ray’s sound is this: imagine Neil Young colliding with Nick Lowe while fronting NRBQ and performing songs telepathically channeled from David Lindley’s sideburns. If you are thoroughly confused, have no fear. Describing Ray’s charm is difficult. However, enjoying this unpretentious, humble and extremely talented man’s music is a much easier.
With over 20 albums to his name (including eight or so with Lonesome Brothers), digging into Ray’s back catalog is hugely satisfying. Normally recording with a few longtime friends as the Ray Mason Band, Ray does occasionally record albums with just his trusty Silvertone guitar. His latest plate-spinner, THE SHY REQUESTER, is one of those albums. Imagine walking into a bar, grabbing a beer, and then relaxing as you enjoy the night’s entertainment: a down-to-earth singer/songwriter plying his trade with songs that seem to reflect how you – a normal person – relate to this world. THAT is what listening to THE SHY REQUESTER is like. It is funny, sad and completely from the heart. It is also raw and loose, as you’d probably expect from an album with just voice and a Silvertone electric guitar with varying degrees of reverb. It may not shimmer and sparkle like what you hear on Top 40 radio, but Ray’s music has much more depth and honesty – even when he strips it down to its core.

And now, I’d like to introduce you to Ray… in his own words!

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