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Folk/Country





Songs of Summer #1: "Heatstroke Summer" by Charlotte Rose Benjamin

The jury’s still out on what (no doubt worthy) song will end up being officially designated the Song of the Summer 2021™ and far be it for us to even acknowledge such a hackneyed premise. But hey that doesn’t mean we can’t start our own highly unofficial list based around a hackneyed premise because who says summer deserves only one song so take that Billboard and Tik Tok Nation. And so here we reveal our first entry in the Deli's summer song playlist, an unparalleled honor bestowed upon Charlotte Rose Benjamin’s “Heatstroke Summer.”

Now mind that this is a song some would call a “B-side” using the no-longer popular parlance (ask your parents) but here at DeliCorp we openly acknowledge that this is a B-side kind of blog so it’s totally fitting. And even Ms. Benjamin herself has stated an affinity for musical obscurities such as B-sides and "deep cuts" (ask your parents) to the extent that she wrote an entire tender aching ballad based around the notion of deep cuts named, quite fittingly, “Deep Cut" based around the premise: “Songs are are like lovers / and if it was a record / we’d be the deep cut / that no one remembered.”

But I digress. Let’s get back to summer songs shall we because right now there’s a good chunk of this country that's undergoing a relentless heatwave like here in New York City with a forecast high of 97 tomorrow, or Seattle and Portland which hit 108 and 116 degrees yesterday (wut?) which is a full 18 degrees above recommended boy band temperature. And that’s not even to mention Canada’s westernmost province British Columbia reaching 116 degrees yesterday which shattered national records. So, you see, if we don’t get around to naming a designated Song of the Summer 2021™ soon we’ll all be melted into a congealed mass of musical indecisiveness before this week is even over.

But I digress again. On “Heatstroke Summer” Charlotte Rose sketches a sonic portrait made up of fleetingly observed slices of life with an evocative Zen-like concision like in the opening lines—“Heatstroke summer / yellow is the color / cowboy in Corona / but the beat goes on and on”—which is either about a cowboy living in Queens or living through coronavirus or possibly both because before long she observes that “you can’t prepare for death anyway.”

And hey I’m not gonna spell out the whole song for you but there’s an appears to be a theme of escape running through some of the lyrics (piña coladas optional) with the song’s narrator dreaming about it being New Year’s Eve again and weighing an invitation to hit the road for parts unknown, until the song’s extended coda rides off into the sunset with overheated dogs barking in the background and an intertwined guitar solo that’s equal parts jangly and distorted/dissonant much like the jangled, destroyed nerves of a heatstroke victim. But with the overall gentle swaying vibe, and with Ms. Benjamin’s voice being as winsome and gentle as a tall glass of pink lemonade, "Heatstroke Summer" is equally suitable listening for backyard barbecues and existential (or literal) meltdowns alike.

And hey we can't ignore the A-side of this two-sided single which is called “Cumbie’s Parking Lot” in reference to Massachusetts-based convenience store chain Cumberland Farms (aka Cumbies) which just happens to be the state where CRB was raised before she returned to her ancestral home of New York City where her parents launched careers as a dancer and a musician/TV jingle singer. Anyway she seems to have a fairly solid grasp of the typical thought patterns of Cumbie's parking lot denizens expressing sentiments like “I wanna separate my brain from my body / I want you to let me use you like a drug” and “I don’t wanna go home yet / you can take pictures of me and post them on the Internet.”

And even if summer isn’t explicitly mentioned it feels strongly implied with the theme of escape still to the fore—escaping home, escaping the city, escaping oneself—and with the phrase “I wanna” employed nearly as much as on a Ramones song. And when the song reaches its first chorus the whole thing opens us like a blooming summer flower with sweet fragrant melodies and lush floating harmonies that'll hit your senses like a face full of pollen (in musical terms it's something like taking all 35 volumes of AM Gold and distilling them into one single refrain).

And hey if the songs don’t do it for you right away then the accompanying music videos just might ("Cumbie's Parking Lot" is even directed by CRB herself) because there’s a clear aesthetic at work. Though be forewarned that based on the video above you really don’t wanna ask Charlotte Rose to serve you up a slice of cake, because she approaches the task of cake cutting like Jason Voorhees and his mother approach cutting up summer campers and you probably don’t wanna drink your cake through a straw. But it’s a minor misgiving and you were already forewarned in the song “Deep Cut” after all. 

But I digress one last time. So anyway now you've at least got somewhere to start with your summer-themed listening and you can continue to check this space for more to come. (Jason Lee)





VIDEO: In “Burning The Ground,” Justus Proffit Keeps The Candle Burning

image courtesy of the artist 

Bar/None Records Artist Justus Proffit has released “Burning The Ground,” a single from his upcoming sophomore album, Speedstar, coming out August 20th, along with an accompanying music video, and his low-key indie folk-rock vibes are formidable.

The track opens with lazily-strummed acoustic guitar sharing space with gently chorused lead guitar lines. A placid bass faithfully hits the root note, establishing a solid rhythmic foundation. The tom-forward drum kit begin to tumble dizzily during the chorus, giving the song an added sense of dimension and avoiding the possibility of sounding repetitive. Meanwhile, Proffit’s lead vocal mirrors the laconic lyrics in his offhand delivery, as if you were listening to him in a chair across the bed from which he’s performing. The package as a whole is as meditative as it is catchy. 

As a whole, the track gives off strong Elliott Smith vibes, combined with a bit of the stoned effortlessness of Kurt Vile. The video, meanwhile, finds Proffit alternately ambling around a cemetery in daylight, relaxing in a very candle-lit bath tub, and dripping red wax over glass heads and religious statuettes. Shot with a VHS look, its amateur look evokes the visual work of alternative artists from the 80s and 90s, and subtly fills in the more gloomy blanks of the music. Hopefully the album will similarly ride the line between depression and dynamism. Gabe Hernandez

 

 

 





Folk/Country

Time: 
19:00
Band name: 
Hannah Rooth
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
facebook.com/hannahroothmusic
Venue name: 
Oasis House Show
Band email: 
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Sarah Jarosz' Roots Feel New and Polished At the Same Time

Four-time Grammy winner Sarah Jarosz is bringing new life to the Americana roots musical genre. Serious enough to win the Fresh Grass Foundation’s 2017 commission to write a thirty minute original piece featuring traditional bluegrass stringed instruments yet fun enough to share cocktail recipes during her two online after shows recently, Jarosz is full of surprises.


On her commissioned piece called The Blue Heron Suite, released on May 7, Sarah never fails to amaze even the most faithful Americana music fan with how versatile her octave mandolin, her acoustic guitar and her clawhammer banjo, joined by a bass guitar (Jeff Picker) and guitar (Jefferson Hamer) can truly be. Falling somewhere between classical music and folk rock, Blue Heron Suite will inspire mandolin and clawhammer banjo players for the foreseeable future.


The commission awarded to Jarosz by the Fresh Grass Foundation states the following on its website: “The FreshGrass Composition Commission is our flagship grant, given annually to an artist whose work reflects the FreshGrass mission to preserve and support innovative grassroots music. Composition Commission recipients write a new long-form piece of music for an ensemble that includes some elements of traditional string band instrumentation,” Blue Heron Suite therefore is not a traditional album of songs (unlike her 2020 Grammy winning World on the Ground album). 


This cohesive new album contains songs, interludes and reprises that are most satisfying to listen to in one sitting, preferably with headphones and with the high quality setting if you are using the Spotify app!


Jarosz has not only excelled at writing and performing a piece that fulfills the purpose of  her award. She has also written a testimony to the comforting and strengthening importance of family and friends at a time in one’s life when crummy circumstances are blindsiding a usually upbeat individual. Jarosz’s theme of experiencing her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis ( now in remission) and the devastation of Hurricane Harvey at a much-loved town near her Texas hometown of Wimmerley back in 2017 is proficiently reflected in the way the music finds strength after the suite’s turning point during Interlude Two. 


An example of how her music evokes the storyline of her experience is Interlude Two’s pleasing clawhammer banjo strumming, calling to mind her thinking over what her mother and friends have said. This interlude then leads to the appearance Jarosz’s trademark powerful vocals (rather than the higher-pitched vocals heard up to this point) for the first time on this album. 


For the remainder of Blue Heron Suite, the music becomes more upbeat —- not exactly her boisterous Little Satchel (a bluegrass standard she covered on World On The Ground in 2020) but that’s what makes Blue Heron Suite so beautifully and genuinely relatable to anyone that has come out on the other side of a crisis or a tragedy.


Sarah’s concert swag available online also will delight and surprise her fans new and old. In addition to some of the prettiest t-shirts and tank tops with artwork by her friend Taylor Ashton,  Jarosz offers imprinted kites (!) and bluebonnet seed packets in true Texas fashion. 


Don’t forget, there are imprinted Blue Heron tumblers for enjoying her cocktail recipes!


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Heartless Bastards Rock First Encore at Mohawk’s Reopening

 On Thursday, May 27th, Heartless Bastards kicked off Mohawk’s first sold out show since the apocalypse. Demand was high enough for Mohawk to add a second performance to the weekend’s roster. The venue’s capacity was set at 50%, approximately 450 people, so the sold-out show felt comfortable and spacious (and wow, wait until you see the renovated bathrooms at Mohawk). 


Tender Things opens the show with country, hippie charm. From Northern Kentucky, they toted their 6-piece to Austin including a fiddle player and a cowboy on a pedal steel guitar. The Austin crowd receives this country folk getup with open hearts and roaring applause. They play songs from their new album, How to Make a Fool, most notable was “I Don’t Know How to Love You.” The atmosphere is pure elation and joy as this is the first live show for most folks, especially at a venue that feels like home.

 

Everything feels new but with a familiar air. Austin has been home to Heartless Bastards since 2007, and it feels poignant and right that they play one of the christening shows of live music’s return. Energy climbs as Heartless Bastards take the stage with lead singer, Erika Wennerstrom in a black-velvet-fringe romper with rainbow stripes. Wennerstrom announces that their new album will be released this fall 2021. They play new songs from the upcoming album, songs drenched in rock and marked by Wennerstrom’s throaty voice and lyrical talent and featuring sublime guitar moments by Lauren Gurgiolo, another Austin treasure. Wennerstrom sings, “it’s a beautiful life if you let it be,” from the new album’s namesake track, “A Beautiful Life.” 

 

Among the new sounds, old favorites are mixed in like “Only For You,” and “The Mountain,” as well as “Extraordinary Love” from Wennerstrom’s solo album, Sweet Unknown. They gracefully and appropriately close with “Revolution,” their 2020 release, before the audience beckons them for a mutually deserved encore. 

 


The bands continually pronounce and pour out their gratitude to play music, the crowd showers the musicians with cheers and hollers, the full moon rises in the Eastern sky. Half way through the set, Wennerstrom seals the moment by saying we should never take these times together for granted. Both bands will be performing at Austin City Limits this fall season.

 

-- Mel Green

Photo credit: David Brendan Hall

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