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Peter Mulvey — Live at The Cafe Carpe

This record is about a band that found each other and also found a home. It’s about a couple of magic nights SistaStrings and I spent, crammed into the back of a listening room called the Cafe Carpe — jammed full of people, joyfully playing the songs we’d learned over our few years of becoming an ensemble, all happily unaware that the world was already changing, that because of the pandemic already underway the entire world of listening rooms and intimate live audiences was about to disappear for who-knows how long.

I started playing at the Cafe Carpe when I was a kid. At the time, I thought it was the coolest little venue I’d ever seen. After thirty years of international travel I realize that it’s one of the most soulful, deep listening rooms in the world. I’ve developed a reverence for the place, a camaraderie with the characters who work there. I’ve slept in their home above the venue (it’s an old brick building on the Rock River in the small Midwestern city of Fort Atkinson) countless times. I’ve come to love the people and the room, to curate a tiny winter festival there, to visit even when I’m not playing a gig. I’ve bonded with artists who were a generation older than me, played countless song-swaps with my peers, and begun mentoring the next generation. — Peter Mulvey

Available as a 2-record set now.

Cleveland Eaton — Plenty Good Eaton

Cleveland Eaton Plenty Good Eaton LP

The jazz world lost a true legend when bassist Cleveland Eaton passed away in the Summer of 2020. This 1975 album, one of the real gems in the hallowed Black Jazz label catalog, takes the full measure of the man.

Cleve recorded Plenty Good Eaton right after he left Ramsey Lewis’ band, with whom he recorded a grand total of 17 different albums for such labels as Argo, Cadet and Columbia; including the hit records Wade in the Water, Another Voyage, and Sun Goddess. Then, starting in 1980, Eaton spent a dozen years with Count Basie’s band, and if you can imagine some blend of Lewis’ soul-funk with Basie’s hard-driving swing, you might just begin to grasp what’s on the menu of Plenty Good Eaton (the album graphics actually present the credits and songs as if they were menu entrees).

This truly is fusion cuisine, and it’s (sorry) cookin’, too, ranging from the Blaxploitation soundtrack stylings of ‘Keena,’ ‘All Your Lover All Day All Night,’ and ‘Hamburg 302,’ all of which incorporate disco-style strings into funky soul-jazz vamps, to the almost trad-jazz of ‘Kaiser 405,’ to the Philly soul of ‘Are You Out There Somewhere Caring,’ to the out-and-out party anthem ‘Moe Let’s Have a Party.’ The cooks in the kitchen are first-rate, too, including such Chess-label stalwarts as keyboardist Odell Brown and percussionist Morris Jennings and fellow Black Jazz label artists Steve Galloway and Arie Brown of The Awakening. This long-awaited and timely reissue of Plenty Good Eaton features a fresh remastering by Mike Milchner of SonicVision, plus notes by Pat Thomas that include remembrances from Cleve’s widow Myra and long-time friend Lee Shook. 

Available from Real Gone Music.

The Freedom Affair — Freedom Is Love

Freedom Is Love is the debut album from Kansas City’s newest soul juggernaut, The Freedom Affair. The album explores themes of love, heartache, empowerment, and togetherness through a varying landscape of hard-hitting funk, luscious soul, and everything in between. The Freedom Affair is a unique collective featuring 3 powerhouse female vocalists in front of a dynamic 6-piece band. On “Freedom Is Love”, each of the ladies get their time to shine individually, but the magic is on full display when all 3 come together in unison and harmony, symbolically embodying the messages that they sing about. The album was recorded and produced by Chris Hazelton, utilizing the best of vintage and new recording technologies to create an authentic experience, befitting of a soul record that would have been relevant 50 years ago as much as it will be 50 years from now.

Mayer Hawthorne — Rare Changes

The Rare Changes LP is a collection of songs Mayer Hawthorne released as singles from June 2019 to July 2020, and includes a  booklet with the cover art from each single. Mayer dedicates the LP to the brave people of planet earth who are holding hands and fighting for the rare changes. Available with a digital download of the full album. Grab now from the Mayer Hawthorne store, or indie retailers everywhere!

Bobby Patterson — It’s Just A Matter Of Time

Bobby Patterson It’s Just a Matter of Time LP

If this 1972 record for the Paula label was the sum total of Dallas, Texas soul man Bobby Patterson’s career output, then he’d still be reckoned a cult figure among R&B fans. In fact, it’s so good that the fact that he went on to cut five other albums and produce artists ranging from Fontella Bass to Chuck Jackson to Little Johnny Taylor almost seems besides the point.

This is a stone soul masterpiece, full of grit and groove, with a breathtaking stylistic breadth stretching from funky soul (“If You Took a Survey”; “How Do You Spell Love”) to romantic soul balladery (“I Get My Groove from You”) to James Brown-style workouts (“Make Sure You Can Handle It”) to socially-conscious, wah wah-drenched commentary (“The Whole Funky World Is a Ghetto”) and all points in between. But what really makes this record mind-blowing is that Patterson wrote all but one song (the one he didn’t write, “Right On Jody,” is an answer song to Johnnie Taylor’s big hit “Jody’s Got Your Girl and Gone”). Every soul searcher needs this one!

Available from Real Gone Music.

List of Lacquer Engineers

Jas Quintet — Bird Ritual Interrupted

JAS Quintet “Bird Ritual Interrupted” cover artwork by  Anna Youngers  and design by Connor Burtis

Different Folk Records proudly announces Bird Ritual Interrupted, the first vinyl release from Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s JAS Quintet. Recorded January 2019 at Ware House Productions in Omaha, the album will be released June 7th on all digital platforms, CD, and vinyl. Pre-order now and pay no shipping through 6/7 (use the discount code BIRD at checkout!)

Tickets go on sale May 3rd for JAS Quintet’s “Bird Ritual Interrupted” album release show, June 7th at the Belbas Theater in the Washington Pavilion, featuring special guests Jami Lynn (who appears on the album,) Xavier Pastrano and Charles Luden.

The songs on “Bird Ritual Interrupted” were written by Joel Shotwell and arranged by the entire band.

Phil Cook – Far As I Can See

Brandtson — Letterbox

Brandtson: Letterbox Deluxe Reissue

Image result for brandtson letterbox

Brandston‘s reissue campaign continues with debut album, Letterbox coming toSteadfast Records on April 12, 2019. Cleveland’s Brandtson – favorites of the 90’s emo-punk era – stood out with a pop-leaning punk sound highlighted by their intricate and infectious dual vocal harmonies and dueling guitar lines. Led by the anthemic charge of “Blindspot” and the starkly evocative “January”; their debut album, Letterbox, is a love letter to the beginning phases of their marriage of pop-leaning hooks and their hardcore punk past.

Originally released on Steadfast Records in 1997 and reissued the following year on Deep Elm Records, Steadfast Records is reissuing the album on limited edition vinyl and cassette for the very first time. The vinyl is limited to 500 total copies, housed in a gorgeous gatefold jacket, featuring restored and expanded artwork from the original Steadfast Records release.

Mekons – Deserted

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