The idea of FUNERAL BONSAI WEDDING came to Steve Dawson while riding a bus in his hometown of Chicago. Every day he passed a florist with three windows, each with a sign. “Funeral,” read one. “Bonsai,” another. “Wedding,” read the last.
However random, Dawson realized the words sounded natural when put together, much like the group that would share its title. Indeed, when FUNERAL BONSAI WEDDING released its self-titled debut album in 2014, the collaboration appeared like it shouldn’t work. As the songwriter-singer behind Dolly Varden, an acclaimed Americana band from Chicago, Dawson’s roots are country and soul. He is joined by three Chicago jazz musicians — vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, drummer Charles Rumback and bassist Jason Roebke — known for their inventiveness on Chicago’s legendary free jazz scene, having participated in projects with people like Ken Vandermark, Ryley Walker, Thurston Moore, Nicole Mitchell, Jeff Parker, and Nels Cline, among many others.
On Last Flight Out, every sound is inverted: Adasiewicz’s vibes serve as the lead instrument, Dawson’s voice often leads to chants, and Rumback and Roebke shift time to move the music to side pockets as they move it forward. The closest comparison to the ephemeral blissed-out melodies is Van Morrison’s epic Astral Weeks, which aims for transcendence amid ordinariness. To reach those otherworldly heights, Dawson had to invert the process he was conditioned to within the context of a rock band.
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.
The Wood Brothers have announced the release of a new studio album ‘Kingdom In My Mind’ due January 24 via Honey Jar/Thirty Tigers. The 11-song collection represents a reckoning of sorts, examining circumstance, mortality and human nature. Finding strength in accepting what lies beyond our control, the material on ‘Kingdom In My Mind’ hones in on the bittersweet beauty that underlies doubt and pain and sadness with vivid character studies and unflinching self-examination. While the lyrics dig deep, the trio draws from across a broad sonic spectrum to create a set of songs that although thoughtful and inward looking is ultimately transportive and effervescent.
Robbing Mary has been delighting crowds with their heartfelt, heartland music throughout the Midwest for more than a decade. The band has crafted a unique blend of Alternative Country, Americana, Roots Rock and good old Rock N’ Roll. Beginning in 2004, with original members Dan Mills on Vocals and Guitar, Stephen Keefe on Bass, and Jen Vilimonovic on Violin and Vocals, the early version of RM assembled an eclectic collection of original material to share with audiences. As time went on they added Rom Cullers on Guitar and Vocals, David Drotos on Keyboard and Vocals, Scott Mehalko on Drums and Percussion, and most recently Pete Simon on electric, slide and steel guitars. Together as a tight knit unit of seasoned musicians featuring dynamic harmonies, incredible musicianship and shared lead vocals between the band members, there is something for everyone offered at a Robbing Mary show.
The new Self Titled LP is available now!