Nashville singer-songwriter Jerry Castle has taken a novel route to mental enhancement as a means of sparking creativity. He’s not talking about cannabis, but rather sensory deprivation tanks, which have afforded him the opportunity to feel like he’s floating in space. Castle says, “there really is nothing like it. When I go into the tank, it takes me to another area. It definitely has opened me up as a songwriter. Music and lyrics come to me quicker. I can remember ideas longer and my music sounds pretty different.” Trippy. Castle really knows how to pen empathetic songs full of emotion like “She Kills”, which drops the male gaze in looking at his female subject and focuses on carefully relating to and telling her story. The music itself, gentle but fully laden with textures, carries off a feeling of floating just like those sensory deprivation tanks.
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If there’s any one musician who truly personifies that always ephemeral definition of Americana music, it’s Bill Kirchen, who founded what many consider to be the original Americana band, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen back in 1972. Blending together country, R&B and rock together, Kirchen has led a storied and rich career, including 30 years he’s spent collaborating with pub rock legend Austin de Lone. This August the two roots rock masters unite for an amazing new album recorded in Austin and London called Transatlanticana. By way of preview, “Hounds of the Bakersfield” is a song that Kirchen originally wrote as a tribute to Merle Haggard, a tune that’s timely again given Haggard’s recent passing.
In the lead up to this year’s Pickathon, we’ve been sharing an exclusive series of videos from last year’s fest. One of the best things about Pickathon is its musical variety with indie rock nestling right up against Americana, hip-hop, and soul. It’s a potent mixture and the common denominator is that all of the acts are really good. Up today, we have a live performance from rock ‘n’ roller JD McPherson and band that’ll get you up off your seat and dancing around the cubicle. McPherson remains dedicated to the early rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly of the 1950s, updating and enlivening the music for a whole new generation.
New Orleans’ Sweet Crude are just coming off a win for “Best Rock Band” at the Big Easy Awards and they recently thrilled audiences at Jazz Fest. Now, they have a new EP Critters releasing June 8th, highlighted by this premiere track, “Mon Esprit”. “Rock” doesn’t totally fit this eclectic band that roots their music in the musical moods of Louisiana, but brings a melodic pop sense to the proceedings. Maybe we should just call it Louisiana rock. Sweet Crude is an extremely exciting new group with haunting and mesmerizing vocals sung in Louisiana French and English. This group is going places and will be hitting a bunch of festivals this summer, including Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg, Gasparilla Festival in Tampa, Savannah Stopover, and FrancoFolies Festival in Montréal. Meanwhile, they plan to release their debut full-length album Créatures later this year with an extensive North American tour.
Country duo Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley found great success with their debut album, Before the Sun Goes Down, which earned a best bluegrass album nomination and showcased Ickes and Hensley’s enviable virtuosic musical skills. Now, they are back with a country blues album, fittingly entitled The Country Blues, that’s chock full of amazing country blues tracks, including takes on Hank Williams’ “May You Never Be Alone, Sonny Boy Williamson’s “One Way Out”, and Merle Haggard’s “I Won’t Give Up My Train”.