Over the last half a dozen years or so, John Moreland’s honesty has stunned us––and stung. As he put hurts we didn’t even realize we had or shared into his songs, we sang along. And we felt better. But there has always been far more to Moreland than sad songs. Today, his earthbound poetry remains potent, but in addition to his world-weary candor, Moreland’s music smolders with gentle wisdom, flashes of wit and joy, and compassion. And once again, as we listen, we feel better.
“I can’t dress myself up and be some folk singer character that I’m not really,” Moreland says. “I figured, I can’t dress up these songs and try to sell them that way. All I can do is be me.”
Out February 2020, his latest album LP5 proves John Moreland has gotten really good at being John Moreland––thank God. A masterful display of songwriting by one of today’s best young practitioners of the art form, LP5 is Moreland’s finest record to date. The album’s experimentations with instrumentation and sounds capture an artist whose confidence has grown, all without abandoning the hardy roots rock bed and the lyrics-first approach Moreland’s work demands. “I feel like just this year, in the past few months, I’ve reached a point where I feel like I know what I’m doing here now,” he says. “And I feel comfortable with it.”
When pressed about the hard-won wisdom and peace that seem to define LP5, Moreland is characteristically both direct and humble. “I definitely am wiser than I was five years ago––I guess anybody would hope to be wiser than they were five years ago,” he says with a laugh. “But I do feel more mellow. Settled. I don’t feel as antsy or think I’ve got to prove myself anymore. I feel really comfortable and free to just do what I want to do.”
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.
Muun Bato materialized in the summer of 2018 when Joe Werner (First Communion Afterparty, Driftwood Pyre, Bridge Club) & Andy Iwanin (Basement Apartment, The Pitchafits) were rehearsing for a one-time collaboration show in Minneapolis. Both perfect strangers, they found themselves playing improvised guitar & drums that could well have been finished songs. The chemistry was perfect, sprouting an insatiable appetite to write songs together.
Mike Sopko (Guitarist, Composer, Songwriter) was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1979. As a teen he played in various local bands while studying with local Cleveland Jazz/Fusion guitarist, Steve Gordon. After moving to Oakland, California in 2003, Sopko spearheaded numerous projects, including MCR (w/ G. Calvin Weston), Cascading Liquid Rainbows (w/ Dosh, Chris Lopes), The Golden Measure (w/ Simon Lott), and Glimpse Trio/Duo (w/ Hamir Atwal, Chris Lopes). After meeting Hamir Atwal (Tune-Yards) in 2009, the duo toured extensively, releasing four albums, the first of which was awarded Editor’s Pick by Frank Alkyer of Downbeat Magazine in 2011.
Over the years, Sopko has recorded and performed with artist’s such as Bill Laswell, Thomas Pridgen (Mars Volta), Dave King (Bad Plus), Dosh, Tyshawn Sorey, Hideo Yamaki, Dj Logic, Raoul Bjorkenheim, Chris Pitsiokos, Hamir Atwal, Los Lobos and many more. In 2015, Sopko released Sopko/Laswell/Pridgen, a trio collaboration with legendary producer/bassist, Bill Laswell and drummer phenom, Thomas Pridgen. Sopko’s upcoming release’s for 2019 and 2020 include, “On Common Ground,” a trio recording with Bill Laswell & Tyshawn Sorery, “Rituals” Mike Sopko & Thomas Pridgen, and “$pellcheck” with Dave King & Martin Dosh.
Northern 45 features 11 original tracks written at various outposts from along the northern 45th parallel, a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Colorado Girl”, and Grammy award-winning talent throughout.
Recorded at the Bombshelter recording studio in Nashville, TN, often described as an “analog paradise” and home to award-winning records from the Alabama Shakes, Margo Price, and more, Jon Estes, bassist for John Paul White, Abigail Washburn, among many others, produced the record to analog tape and played bass and keys. Guitars include Sadler Vaden of Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Jeremy Fetzer of Steelism, and Spencer Cullum Jr. from Miranda Lambert’s band. Dave Racine of Jim Lauderdale’s band plays drums; Molly Parden sings backing vocals.
A singer and songwriter who has enjoyed success in the public eye and behind the scenes, Priscilla Renea went from making videos in her bedroom to becoming one of the most successful songwriters in R&B and pop in just over five years. Born in Florida in 1988, Renea took up writing songs in her teens, and began posting homemade videos of her performing her work online. After developing a sizable following for her videos, Renea landed a record deal and released her first album, a dance-pop effort titled Jukebox, in 2009. The album generated few sales, but Renea’s songs became a hot commodity, and she wrote hits for Rihanna (“California King Bed”), Fifth Harmony (“Worth It”), and Kesha (“Timber”), among others. In 2018, Renea took time off from her songwriting career to release a new album, Coloured, dominated by strong, emotionally mature R&B with hints of country and gospel.