Archives for posts with tag: Dead Fingers
Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

This year saw the further disintegration of album sales and disgruntled musicians receiving a pittance from Spotify or other streaming services. Okay, on the bright side there were still great albums to be heard and musicians kept up the pace like the scene with the shrimp boat in Forrest Gump. “Storm?” “What storm?”

Taylor Swift made a home base move from Nashville to New York City and went from making Country Music that was really crossover to making a complete crossover to Pop Music. Albeit, the songs are catchy and she has become the reigning sales queen by CD through placement that saw 1989 on Diet Coca Cola pop up displays in every major supermarket in the United States plus a lot of hard touring and tabloid press.

Scott Borchetta is still on my amazing label head list. If it takes every supermarket in the United States to make Taylor’s new album a million seller, he’s going to do it. Scott shows sheer tenacity and anybody who has heard him talk about the original Taylor Swift launch will realize that if he has the right thing to work with, he will not be denied.

One bright spot on the sales horizon was hearing that United Record Pressing was moving to bigger digs due to the ever increasing demand for vinyl. The craziest part about vinyl is that we all bought into the X and O bits as music for so long that when you hear real music frequencies on vinyl, it’s hard to believe how real it sounds.

Nashville continues to diversify as Country Music starts to sound more like Twisted Sister and Motley Crue starts to sound more Country. What’s interesting is just as Country was starting to hedge the crossover bet towards EDM, the big money making songs had guitar tones from REM to Malcom Young.

Just when you thought all was lost to what classic country sounded like, Ray Price delivers an instant Countrypolitan classic and Sturgill Simpson shows a path to the future for real Country. There are many performers who would like to see “Real” Country make a comeback by Artists like JP Harris and Joe Fletcher.

Jack White continued his Nashville years as the hardest working rocker in the business. Next up, Bridgestone Arena just blocks from Third Man Records. Neil Young became not only the first person to record straight to vinyl in the refurbished 1947 Voice-O-Graph booth at the initial unveiling on Record Store Day 2013, he also recorded an entire album in the time machine, releasing A Letter Home on Third Man Records.

The Black Keys kept pretty busy not just by touring arenas but producing solid efforts by Lana Del Rey [Ultraviolence] and Nikki Lane [All Or Nothin’].

Debbie Bond & The TruDats and The Cotton Blossom Band at CD Release Party, photo- Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond & The TruDats and The Cotton Blossom Band at CD Release Party, photo- Brad Hardisty

If Nashville is not collecting the creative spark of the world like an ACME magnet in a Roadrunner cartoon than I don’t know how one can explain the laundry list of musicians of every genre moving here by the droves. There are so many more professional musicians than what you read about in the local rags.

East Nashville is becoming “gentrified” with its traditions like The Tomato Festival and The Hot Chicken Festival and has a laundry list of musicians living in the vicinity. The area is becoming much more expensive so there are other neighborhoods starting to become better known for musicians such as more affordable Riverside and Berry Hill.

The list of venues and bands that travel through town continues to grow. Nashville marches on as a Mecca for all things music as Nashville’s New Years Eve became only second in attendance to New York City in only four years of promoting headlining acts. Last year the show featured Blackberry Smoke, Brent Eldridge and headliner Hank Williams Jr.. This year it will be called Jack Daniels Bash on Broadway and feature a star-packed lineup that includes Lady Antebellum, Gavin DeGraw, The Apache Relay, and Kristen Capolino. The crowds have surpassed projected numbers in years past. Last year down on Broadway had near 90,000 party goers. This year will probably top 100,000 + for the free show.

Here are my Top Ten from Nashville and a couple of Alabamans and a Texan thrown into the mix.

debbie bond cbb_soulshiningcdcov_med_hr-210 [tie] – The Cotton Blossom Band – Soulshining [Self release]

Tony Gerber put together the truest Alternative project heard all year in Nashville. The Cotton Blossom Band features members of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones [Roy Wooten aka Futureman] and BB King’s [Michael Doster] rhythm section and they manage to blend Mississippi Hill Country Blues with Space Music and other assorted world tones. Imagine Junior Kimbrough backed by Tangerine Dream and you might be close but, no banana. I know there are other projects in town that are somewhere in this realm but Tony Gerber’s realization turned every live gig [which were almost invitation only events] into meditation on another plane without the need for Meds.

“See My Jumper Hangin’ Out On The Line”

justin townes earle single mothers10 [tie] –Justin Townes Earle – Single Mothers [Vagrant Records]

Justin is back in town! Well, after the New York sojourn, it was great to hear a great Nashville lineup playing some Southern inflected bluesy Muscle Shoals soul. Simple arrangements and to the point, this could have been a writer’s night at The Commodore Grill with a minimalist four piece band. The lyrics are important, timely and reflect more facets of his life, especially “Single Mothers” and his own feeling of being raised by a single mother. Justin changes it up again and always manages to upset somebody. This time, it’s “where is Justin’s finger style in the mix?” If you don’t know by now, Justin has made a stretch assignment on every album since Yuma. The predictable quality with the unpredictable line-up or mix is what keeps one looking forward to seeing what he is up to next.

“Single Mothers” “Picture In A Drawer”

debbie bond that thing called love9 –Debbie Bond & The TruDats – That Thing Called Love [Blues Root Productions]

Although completed in 2013, the official release date was in 2014 for the first Live recording to come from Radio Free Nashville’s Mando Blues Show as an official release. Much of the songs played by Alabama’s Queen of The Blues, Debbie Bond, that quintessential night were meant for a future project. After hearing the playback of the recordings done deep in the Tennessee woods in a MASH style tent, Debbie and her band decided it was a great sound and ready for release after some solid mixing. The album features an eclectic mix of tributes to the fans in Tarragona, Spain, New Orleans as well as the influence of Alabama Blues and Soul.

“Tarragona Blues” “Steady Rolling Man”

st paul8 – St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Half The City [Single Lock Records]

You could say this is Eddie Hinton 2.0 or maybe Alabama FAME soul was bubbling under the surface just waiting to get out. What is true is when you take away Country Music, Birmingham and the surrounding areas have an Indie Scene that rivals Nashville. You could file this under The Daptones and the G.E.D. Soul catalog and it fits really well but with something really special with great vocals by Paul Janeway and instrumentation that kept the band busy all year long.

“Call Me”, “Grass Is Greener”

dead fingers big black dog7 – Dead Fingers – Big Black Dog [PIPEANDGUN / Communicating Vessels]

Alabama’s Dead Fingers have developed a copacetic duality in their harmonies and their approach. Taylor Hollingsworth [Conor Oberst, The Spider Eaters] is a monster on the guitar and is able to approach the instrument in whatever way the song needs to be tickled. His wife Kate Taylor steps it up this time and her vocals are stronger than ever. You could call this a Southern She & Him but their pedigree goes even deeper into the history of Birmingham music. The Taylor family is involved in more projects than can be named while Taylor Hollingsworth’s brother has his own stuff going on. This couple represents the bread and butter of the modern day Birmingham scene from The Nick to over the mountain.

“Big Black Dog” “Shoom Doom Babba Labba”

jack white lazaretto6 – Jack White – Lazaretto [Third Man Records]

The depth to where Jack White takes his muse never ceases to amaze. The second solo release shows him in top form and now he is ready to take on Bridgestone Arena from his own backyard, which is no small feat as any Nashvillian will attest. Jack takes the James Brown motto of “the hardest working man in show business” to a third power.

“Lazaretto”, “Would You Fight For My Love”

ricky skaggs sharn white5 –Ricky Skaggs & Sharon White –Hearts Like Ours [Skaggs Family Records]

Long time happily married Ricky and Sharon decide to change it up from their day jobs with Kentucky Thunder and The Whites and make a great duet album with a classic Country almost Americana edge. Although this is their first, hopefully it will not be their last. Ricky is always up for a challenge and has worked with everybody from Bruce Hornsby, Jack White and Barry Gibb over the last few years. Sharon White is the real surprise stretching beyond traditional Bluegrass to be a real charmer in almost a Steve Earle Texan Country meets Blues type way as well as some sweet Christian couple stories of faith that would have been commonplace in Country of the 50’s and 60’s. If one had lost faith that marriage could be a faith building partnership this might bring the possibilities that can exist.

“I Run To You”, “Love Can’t Ever Get Better”

sturgill simpson metamodern4 – Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music [High Top Mountain / Thirty Tigers]

Sturgill Simpson reminds one how cool stripped down Country Music like the Bakersfield sound is. It’s like the third coming of Buck Owens. I think he has a little more Texas in his groove. Dwight Yoakum was kind of the same thing back when “Guitars & Cadillacs” hit MTV instead of Great American Country. Dwight made it with the LA Punk Rock crowd and Sturgill is hitting it big with the Alternative Festival scene. The great thing is Nashville likes Sturgill too. So, maybe this kind of Country does have a chance in this Twisted Sister era of Country Radio.   A great voice, great songs and a cracker jack band will not be denied.

“Turtles All The Way Down”, “Living The Dream”

steelisn  615 to fame3 –Steelism – 615 to Fame [Single Lock Records]

Okay, this may not be number one on the list, maybe because you can’t put an instrumental album there? This has got to be the coolest album on the list. I first heard Spencer Cullum [Jr.] and his brother after I found out that The Deadstring Brothers were playing at The Basement a half dozen years ago. Their album Sao Paulo had just come out and it was the best thing this side of Exile On Main Street. I figured not many people had heard of The Deadstring Brothers but The Basement was packed. I talked to Spencer at that show and found out the band had moved to Nashville. After seeing Spencer craft about any tone on his pedal steel into liquid gold, I thought they better never let this guy leave for Britain. We need him here. What a great band! What a great musician! Watching this band on YouTube play “Linus & Lucy” like a countrified Ventures project is pure Nirvana. I want to hear Steelism plays Zappa. I want to hear Steelism play Ventures. I want to hear them any chance I get.

“The Landlocked Surfer”, “Marfa Lights”

derobert and the half truths im tryin2 –DeRobert & The Half Truths – I’m Tryin, [G.E.D. Soul Records]

This GED Soul gem came out early in the year and may be a little lost in the shuffle as we tend to remember summer through fall as new releases. This album solidifies GED Soul as a major player in the retro Soul stack that includes Broken Bones, Daptones and even Back to Black Winehouse. DeRobert proves to have great vocal chops and solid pitch. There is something soulful but very sunny about DeRobert’s grooves. GED Soul gets together solid engineering and mixing that sounds great on the turntable. I personally like this over the much more publicized and still great St. Paul & The Broken Bones material. Just keep pouring on great arrangements and songs and DeRobert will not be denied.‏ Bonus- The Batman Building featured prominently on the cover.

“Ooo Wee”, “Get On It”, “I’m Tryin’”

???????????????????????????????????????1 –Ray Price – Beauty is…The Final Sessions [Amerimonte LLC]

Ray Price worked with studio veteran Producer Fred Foster to put forth true blood, sweat, tears, money, guts, glory…I could go on. This was a love letter mostly to his wife, but, it was the final effort of a man in his 80’s with cancer known as one of the greatest voices ever laboriously getting the best take and building a Countrypolitan opus with strings and everything great about the Country crossover hits that come out in the 60’s. Ray may have been honored by Oxford American in their Texas issue this year, but this album is pure Nashville as Ray made several trips to Tennessee to complete Beauty is… Ray was a man on a mission to make one great final album and he succeeded.

“An Affair To Remember”, “I Wish I was 18 Again”

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom
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Dead Fingers 2014 Interview

Dead Fingers, photo Courtesy Pipe and Gun

Dead Fingers, photo Courtesy Pipe and Gun

Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor better known as Birmingham, Alabama’s Dead Fingers took a few minutes to reflect on their adventures that took about two years and resulted in their sophomore release Big Black Dog on Birmingham’s Communicating Vessels .

Taylor and Kate took a much needed break when they became first time parents and found themselves with new material at a crossroads in the music business that is affecting even smaller regional labels.

After much reflection and at a point where they felt like they were ready to get out on the road, they ended up working with Birmingham, Alabama’s Communicating Vessels which has had national success with The Great Book Of John as well as regional favorites like The Grenadines.

The album was recorded in Mississippi with Bruce Watson [Fat Possum/ Big Legal Mess] long before the release date and label decisions were made and finally released with Bruce’s blessing right in Taylor and Kate’s own backyard.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: I have been listening to this album and it seems to be more organized then the first release in the sense that it is not as random as the other album. Does that make sense?

Taylor Hollingsworth / Dead Fingers: Yeah, I could see that for sure, yeah. We tried to have a direction, you know, in the recording. We tried to have, like a cohesive sound.

TNB: There are more concentration on the harmonies and also more of a focus on the country sound.

TH: I decided I am just a country musician you know. I’m like psychedelic country.

TNB: It works. I liked how you put “Big Black Dog” on the front end because that was kind of like the most off-beat and different from the rest. It looks like the first push is with “Free Tonight.”

TH: Yeah.

TNB: You’ve been around for at least a decade now. As a solo artist, you were with Brash Music out of Georgia. You worked with Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band . You’ve been with Big Legal Mess / Fat Possum out of Mississippi and now you are working with Communicating Vessels out of Birmingham. I guess it makes it a little bit easier to work with distribution and all of that.

TH: Not necessarily on the distribution, but it makes it easier for like, I don’t know, I thought it was making it easier until the last couple of days. No, I’m just kidding, I mean , it’s like easier when we can go to the office and actually discuss things face to face rather than by e-mail or just a phone call. I can bug them more frequently and make sure things are like getting done, I guess.

TNB: Communicating Vessels has pretty decent distribution. I remember seeing The Great Book of John and some of their other releases here in Nashville. They also concentrate on doing some vinyl, don’t they?

TH: Yeah, they are definitely doing vinyl. They are really cool people that do the label. I have really been excited about doing it. I hope that they can survive in this day and age in the music business. Obviously, it’s like a f*****n’ s**t show out there.

TNB: It’s weird. Jack White made an album that had three speeds on it to create more interest and it ended up being number 1 on Billboard. Lazaretto sold like 40,000 copies the first week. But, it’s like a piece of art.

TH: Well, he’s on a whole ‘nother plane.

TNB: When you guys tour are you going out with any other Alabama bands or just going out by yourselves?

Dead Fingers, Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

Dead Fingers, Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

TH: We just have this one tour booked as of right now and that’s just us by ourselves with local support in all the cities. I think that is usually good, you know, because you get local bands that help you with the draw.

TNB: Are you doing recording pretty much the way you used to, like, are you pretty much taking control of your work?

TH: This new album we did over at the Fat Possum studio at the same place as we did the first Dead Fingers album with Bruce Watson. We both kind of, you know, produced it like I come up with a lot of ideas of arrangement type stuff and instrumentation. Like adding certain things to make it sound a certain way, but I really don’t have anything to do with, like, what mic we are going to use or what stuff like that. Bruce is on top of that because I’ll just grab any kind of mic there is and just put’em on shit to record, but he knows which mic to use and to do it the proper way.

TNB: Well, he’s worked on a lot of stuff. My favorite Black Keys album was Chulahoma, the Junior Kimbrough stuff. That was awesome.

TH: Yeah man, Bruce has got his name on some cool records.

TNB: Ok, so you did it over there, was it originally going to be on his label, or?

TH: Yeah. The music business is eating them alive like he is losing money on a lot of records. He lost money on our first record. So, he was kind of thinking we would just release this record just digitally then I said there is a Birmingham label. I told him about Communicating Vessels. I was like, what if we got them to do the vinyl and you do the digital, but it kind of got to be like nobody is going to want to spend all this money on vinyl and not have the digital release so, we just decided to go with Communicating Vessels. We thought about it and they kind of offered us to do the vinyl and offered to help us with some of the core stuff. We also liked the idea of them just being down the street from us. I mean they are literally like a two minute drive so, we talked to Bruce and he was totally cool with the whole thing. I mean he was like I would love to say I could give you enough money to do all that but he just can’t.

TNB: It is kind of weird how Birmingham had evolved into where there were a lot of great bands that came out at a certain period of time. Like beitthemeans, Model Citizen, Universal Joint and your band The Spider Eaters. I can think of at least a dozen bands; Through The Sparks has made it through that whole thing. But, now Birmingham has its own label and other things going on so they can promote their own scene, which is kind of cool.

TH: Yes, it’s really cool, you know, I hope that they can expand beyond Birmingham. They certainly are trying real hard. They are goin’ through the motions. They are living and learning. They are hiring all kinds of publicists and radio people and I mean they are doing it.

TNB: Are they trying to get over to England?

TH: Yeah. They are actually hiring print over in England.

TNB: I was thinking, how say like The Drive By Truckers broke over there as well as Kings of Leon.

TH: Yeah, we went to Europe last year. On our last record, we had a European label as well as the Stateside label and we did a European tour which went over really well for us on our level. But, the label we were on, over there, went under. They lost their ass on every one of their records and now we don’t have a label over there. Labels are just going under right and left.

TNB: Jack White’s Third Man Records can sell a lot of his own records but he has recorded a lot of other people that don’t do much like even the Neil Young record he did is way down on the charts so it’s maybe selling like a couple of thousand.

TH: Bruce just told me they released the Iggy & The Stooges new album and didn’t even sell 10,000 copies. Iggy & the f*****g Stooges! That is insane and they spent a fortune on that record.

TNB: I know Infinity Cat put their label right behind the United Record Pressing plant here in town.

TH: Yeah, that is where we pressed our last record.

TNB: They have got things going on where they do limited runs on everything and they keep changing it up whether it is the type of vinyl or the sleeve. They change it up every tour because they have core buyers. They have guys that will buy three different versions of the same record to just get the different covers of a Jeff The Brotherhood release.

TH: Well the truth is the reason we are not on Bruce’s label is what really happened on the business end and that his distribution was losing so much money on all these small records that weren’t selling enough numbers and they were getting shipped back from stores. They had to change their way, so their new approach in order to distribute your record is to have you buy a package plan and it was four grand for just the cheapest package. That was just to get your record into the store and that added four grand to our cost which used to not be a cost at all. They made money per record off a percentage but now they don’t take a percentage they charge a flat fee because those records weren’t even selling enough for them to make a percentage. You know what I mean? Not making anything, losing money.

TNB: It’s kind of the trend right now that they are putting everything back on the artist. I was talking to Ryan Hurtgen [former Nashvillian in Rene Breton]of Perfect Beings and he said out there in California, the pluggers are charging the bands and you don’t know if they are out plugging your music or not. They are trying to suck the musicians dry…Hey Kate, are you there?

Kate Taylor / Dead Fingers: I’m here.

TNB: You kind of have your own thing, but it fits more with Folk Alliance or the Americana Music Festival here in Nashville for promoting, you know what I mean? I didn’t know if you were going to try to get into some of those things. The Americana Music Festival here in town is huge. People are flying in from all over the world.

TH: Is that where I played with The Dexateens last year?

TNB: You probably did. I know the Dexateens are pretty solid. I didn’t go last year.

TH: Yeah. I would love to do that.

TNB: Is the new album stuff you worked on a while back or is at all new?

TH: I don’t think we had it written during the last album but it is now like two years old though. I mean, most of the songs I wrote before our daughter was born. Kate, your songs are probably before she was born too?

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

Kate: Yeah, we were probably working on that album just as we just finished the tour of the first album. We had just come out from there and I was pregnant. So, when we finished the tour we just went straight back into the studio. Knowing you’re pregnant you are anticipating the lull. I mean, we obviously had to take a little time off from touring and not be able to work as much. So, even when we were on tour we went back and forth to Mississippi every other weekend while I was still pregnant and then we finished it. I think Taylor ended up going one or maybe two times after she was born. I mean she was just teeny tiny like three weeks old or something. We went back a couple of times to finish everything up. But, then there was the switching of labels and all that kind of stuff and that ended up taking much longer than we had anticipated.

TNB: So you are like ready to record again, probably?

TH: Yeah, we haven’t written any songs.

Kate: Yeah, we had the baby and stuff.

TH: I was going through my notebook last night and I realized I probably have an albums worth of stuff written. Old songs from back then.

Kate: We are just getting to the point where we can record again. You know, our daughter is getting to be not quite two actually, she will be in November. Just like little things, you know, even right now. She is usually not a night owl. We don’t have to wait until forever and ever, at bedtime she goes to bed.

Taylor: That just now started.

TNB: Life kind of changes when you got kids, that’s for sure.

Kate: So, we are just getting to a point where we can get the things out in front and start working again. Like at first, we were not writing anymore and not playing anymore.

TH: I’m about ready to start playing full time, just like locally you know.

TNB: What are you doing locally nowadays? Are doing like acoustic gigs somewhere? Or kicking it with a band?

TH: I have a cover band that I am playing with and stuff and then I work. I’ll do some acoustic gigs like, I do every second Friday at Parkside Cafe in the back bar up there. It’s like the cool bar now in Birmingham. All of our friends are hanging there. Lauren, from The Grenadines, tends bar at Parkside. It’s a bunch of cool folks. I think I am going to put together kind of like my own songs but then a bunch of country songs, cover songs that I can just play at bars to make a living. Make enough to get by without working the road. That is what I hope for.

TNB: Sounds good. It is a challenge. It’s kind of weird because it’s like when you released Tragic City, you were right on the edge of when the whole music business was goin’ down. I remember Tower Records was getting behind that album and then they went bankrupt.

TH: Yeah, they had a lot at Tower Records and like I remember it was like in Best Buy and shit like that. It was really getting pushed out there, but it was all right there at the end. I didn’t have a business minded head on my shoulder whatsoever anyway.

TNB: You were pushing everything at 100%.

TH: I just didn’t have the team behind me.

TNB: I definitely promote Birmingham when I get the chance.

TH: Yeah, I know you do.

TNB: Dude, good to hear that you guys are still pressing on. I was going to tell you that one of the highlights for me in Birmingham, probably 2006. You were playing with the Spider Eaters and Matt Patton from Model Citizen…

TH: Oh yeah Matt.

TNB: Yeah, he got up on stage and you guys did Ramones’ “Commando.” That was cool. It was good talking to you. Wish you the best man.

Taylor: Alright man, always good to talk to you.

Kate: Thank you so much.

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Pipe and Gun

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Pipe and Gun

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom